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From the Portland Business Journal

Hillsboro-based Mobile Tech Inc. (MTI) is heading into 2021 with a rebuilt executive team led by newly appointed CEO Mary Jesse.

Jesse joined the company as chief operations officer in February 2020, just at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. This month she was named CEO and appointed to the company’s board of directors. She is the first woman ever to serve on the 44-year-old company’s board.

“Mary has brought a focus on innovation and service on behalf of our customers that positions MTI to play a leadership role in developing the connected retail environments of the future,” said David Gelobter, managing director, MC Credit Partners, the company’s private equity owner.

MTI has more than 800 global employees with more than 200 at the Hillsboro headquarters. The company makes hardware and software used by customers in retail, hospitality and health care. Tablet devices are used for point-of-sale, concierge and self-serve kiosks. It also makes smart devices that are used by retailers to secure items such as cell phones and other electronics in displays.

In addition to the hardware, the company has a suite of software to deliver data and remote access to items. It also has a services business to fix and maintain not only its own hardware but other devices in the retail ecosystem.

“I looked at the company and thought this is the perfect fit,” said Jesse, who has two decades as a tech executive. “My tech background is in hardware and software and background in wireless and mobile and internet of things and strategy and business management. It really hits. I’m all cylinders on this.”

Within two weeks of starting at MTI the Covid-19 pandemic changed everything. Jesse was already planning to come in and make changes to help position MTI to better support customers’ digital transformations, something that can be challenging in the best of times. But almost overnight, revenue from retail dropped more than 50 percent.

“It was like skiing down a mountain and then an avalanche is following you,” she said. “You are racing to get in front of it.”

The company had some layoffs early on but has since brought people back. It has also seen the pandemic drive greater demand for its products as retailers and other businesses have been forced into digital transformations faster than they anticipated. Many are looking for devices to enable remote and contactless service. Plus, there is growing need for MTI’s security devices as fewer employees are on retail floors, Jesse said.

MTI’s smart display fixtures allow customers to have remote visibility and remote data gathering, which can make operations more efficient. As physical retail and other spaces evolve MTI sees its products allowing customers to keep up with that transition by connecting the consumer-facing elements and the back office.

“That is where retail is going — data driven. And this last mile is the retail location,” she said.

The company has hundreds of customers including top retailers and major device manufacturers.

Last year, the company streamlined the business and 2021 is set up as the year for execution. Jesse said the company plans to bring on large partners in the U.S. and internationally to grow sales channels.

The company is privately held and is controlled by MC Credit Partners LP, which has ample access to capital, she said. Last year also saw several other new executives join the team or get promoted. Craig Parietti was named chief financial officer, previously he was vice president of finance for HTC America; Tony Woods was named vice president of human resources; Vicki VanValin was promoted to vice president of global sales; and Parbin Chand was promoted to vice president of production and supply chain.

Jesse said the expertise of the company’s team was critical to working through the challenges of 2020. Much of the staff has been with the company for years — decades in some cases — and she has been inspired by that.

Right now the majority of the company is still working remotely, but Jesse hopes to bring people back to offices. The company is evaluating its remote work policies and will likely have a hybrid model.

“We have shown we can be effective working remotely, and for some people it’s really much better,” she said. “We want to be able to offer our staff the best possible work environment and for some people it’s at home.”

The company has several open positions, including director of global partnerships, and plans to hire across the organization throughout the year.

Malia Spencer

Staff Reporter

Portland Business Journal

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