|Jim Kevlin/HOMETOWN ONEONTA|
Ioxus President/CEO Mark McGough takes a call from a prospective investor following a walkthrough at the company’s new headquarters, the former National Soccer Hall of Fame.
Yes, there is order in the universe.
When Ioxus President/CEO Mark McGough (pronounced ma-gew) graduated from high school outside Pittsburgh, he had to make a choice: semi-pro soccer or Notre Dame.
“I always wanted to be in the Hall of Fame,” he said, although he chose South Bend, then went on for an advanced engineering degree at New Jersey Institute of Technology.
But lo and behold, there he was the other day, key in hand, doing a walkthrough of the National Soccer Hall of Fame’s former headquarters, which soon will house the innovative ultracapacitor-manufacturing company.
If the soccer link makes the building a natural for McGough, the futuristic architecture is a perfect fit for a company in the process of reinventing the nation and world’s energy future.
Ioxus is making ultracapacitors – devices that can deliver a charge without degrading the power source. Think electric cars. Think national grid.
The Generation One and Two products being produced at the company’s current Winney Hill Road plant is outfitting long-lasting flashlights and other small appliances. Gen Three and Four, top secret for now, were so exciting to McGough he walked away from two attractive CEO offers to come here.
A couple of days before McGough, an intense 40-something executive with sandy hair and an open smile, sat down for this interview, a contingent from General Electric’s Schenectady plant had visited, examining the local product for electric buses.
Ioxus was founded in 2008, a spin-off from Custom Electronics, Inc., and has been expanding steadily in the former Agway across Winney Hill Road from Family Dollar.
To move to the next step, the company is hosting a Job Fair, 4-8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 25, in the Hall of Fame lobby, looking for a controller, a facility manager and various types of engineers. One the Hall is renovated for manufacturing, Ioxus will be hiring 150-200 production workers.
Talking to McGough, he soon emerges as an ideal candidate for the job he assumed in September.
Since 1995, after a dozen years with a public utility and a clean-energy consulting firm, he was asked by a client, PacifiCorp., Portland, Ore., to assess Maxwell Industries as a prospect for investment.
When he reported back positively, PacifiCorp made the investment and installed McGough as president of Maxwell Advanced Engineering Products, one of the company’s five subsidiaries. It manufactured ultracapacitors, and sales soon reached $11 million.
After three years, he shifted to president/CEO of Envinta Corp., energy-efficiency consultants, and after selling that to Tersus Energy in 2006, he joined Pentadyne, an energy-efficient flywheel manufacturer.
As that company was being sold off in mid-2010, McGough received two CEO offers from energy-related companies. About to accept one of them, he received a call from Braemar Energy, the venture capital firm that helped launch Ioxus: Don’t make a decision until you go to Oneonta.
Michael Pentaris, Ioxus founder and acting president/CEO, was visiting family in Cyprus, and Braemar offered to fly McGough to that Mediterranean island to meet him. McGough demurred, but when he met Pentaris, he was quickly sold by the company’s technical vision.
When McGough came aboard, Pentaris, who remains on the Ioxus Board of Directors, returned fulltime to Custom Electronics, where he is president/CEO.
Braemar, along with state and federal grants, came up with the original “series one” financing, $5 million, McGough said. Negotiations are nearing completion now on “series two” financing, $20 million, with Braemar participating again.
“That’s a lot of money for a company like this,” he said. “It would last us for years.”
Meanwhile, Ioxus continues to get queries from all over the nation and world about its product, most recently from Bosch, the German-based multi-product appliance and tool maker. Right now, said McGough, Ioxus lacks the logistical band “bandwidth” – people and production – to serve the field, but the new financing will allow things to ramp up quickly.
Ioxus’ start-up status should help attract top recruits, McGough expects, since there’s the potential for an equity piece. He also foresees a San Jose atmosphere on the Susquehanna: bright people, lively debate, relaxed workplace.
IBM started in Oneonta, but soon moved down the line to Binghamton. What would keep Ioxus here? The availability of talent, foremost: McGough said he would be delighted to sit down with SUNY Oneonta President Nancy Kleniewski to discuss what each organization can do for the other.
I-88 is an asset, for sure. But an airport would be even moreso. Oneonta Municipal Airport? Or better, Oneonta International.