Henry O’Donnell – Surfer Dude to Entrepreneur Making Waves

by Bill Tucker on September 21, 2015

Henry O’Donnell, co-owner of Automation, Inc., a light manufacturer and distributor of high tech robotic devices.  His company has about 50 employees in a 40,000 square foot space.  You would think Henry would be very successful, and you would be right. The past does not always indicate the future though.

After graduating from UCSB, Henry decided to live the surfer-dude lifestyle including the long curly hair, holding a variety of menial jobs to get by.  After a year of being broke, he moved to Orange County, California, to change up his lifestyle.  Henry cut his hair and used his uncle’s spare office to seek his future.

He took a job with West Co., an electronics manufacturing and sales company.  THE SMALL THING:  After 8 months of management training, he decided he didn’t want to be in management, but wanted to be in sales, where the action was.  The company reluctantly agreed, and provided him with the first of his 16 Ford Tauruses.  Imagine that!!!

His family moved from California to Minneapolis, where he took a chance selling for a little company called Automation Fluids.  Eventually, the two owners decided to retire, and Henry, along with his partner, bought the original owners out and changed the name to Automation, Inc.  That sale culminated in 2008, right before the market crashed.  On top of the market crashing, Automation’s top three sales people left to start their own company shortly thereafter.  But Henry and his partner persevered, and now the company is more successful than ever.

But long ago, had Henry stayed in management, as West Co. wanted him to do and not followed his heart and intuition, the ownership and success at Automation, Inc. would never have happened.

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