Q&A With Chuck Hoge
Hoge named Research and Technology Park’s Interim Executive Director
Published: Monday, October 14, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 14, 2013 15:10
Some may say Chuck Hoge is an interesting man. Not only has he served as CEO of Bobcat Company and Otter Tail Corporation, but he is now the interim executive director of NDSU’s Research and Technology Park.
Hoge is taking over for previous interim executive director Brenda Wyland, who took a position as director of marketing for Appareo Systems, according to a university press release.
Hoge has served on the Park’s board of directors for most of its existence.
“Chuck has been involved with the Research and Technology Park for many years and has spent much of his career as a business executive,” NDSU President Dean L. Bresciani said in the press release, who also serves as president of the Park’s board of directors. “He brings outstanding experience to this position, and we are glad to be able to tap into that for this arm of the university that helps commercialize NDSU research.”
With the recent $600,000 research and development partnership with Bobcat, Hoge’s experience will be invaluable. One of his and the Park’s goals is to commercialize new products and services and the part NDSU students will play in this process. Many of the clients in the park hire NDSU students as interns or for long-term positions.
“Companies in the park hire a very wide spectrum of academic majors,” Hoge said. “Most obvious are those in scientific areas, as well as engineering and computer science majors. In addition, there are skills required to support the full aspect of running a business from accounting, general business, human resources and marketing, just to name a few.”
Spectrum: What exactly does an “Interim Executive Director” in the Research and Technology Park do?
Hoge: I am serving as interim director until such time that a permanent director is hired. The RTP Board has asked me to lead a strategic planning process for the Park that will assess the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities of the Park. Timing for this plan is perfect as the new Vice President for Research and Creative Activity at the University, Dr. Kelly Rusch, just began a few weeks ago. The plan for the Park must be consistent with the plan for research at NDSU. Along with the planning process, my main focus is to serve the client companies of the Park. These include the research activities that are taking place by the university in buildings R1 and R2. We are also a host to John Deere Electronic Solutions, Appareo Systems, Candlewood Suites, Bobcat and another eight companies that reside in our business Incubator building. These companies are in various stages of evolution, from start-up to those that are beginning to take products or services to market.
S: What are the goals and objectives of the Research and Technology Park and the Technology Incubator?
H: The RTP exists to enhance the investments in NDSU by the people of North Dakota. Through a variety of partnerships with the NDSU research community, high technology businesses, national and regional centers of excellence, the RTP will achieve successful technology development and broaden the economic base of the state and region.
S: What is the difference between and interim executive director, and a permanent executive director’s job?
H: The job responsibilities are the same. It is just a matter of timing. I am serving the board until the strategic plan is far enough along to identify the skills and experience required to best accomplish the strategy of the Park. We expect the planning process to go into next year, so I would expect that the search for a permanent executive director to begin five to six months from now.
S: How does one go about getting this position?
H: Ha. Good question. I have been on the board of the Park for many years. I have a passion for NDSU and for what we are trying to accomplish at the Park. The Park has been extremely successful in the past, and I would like to see the park continue to be successful by implementing the strategy developed over the next several months.
S: What is the most important thing that past directors have done to make the Park so successful?
H: In my opinion, the single most important thing is to link the outstanding aspects of NDSU with our private-sector clients. In addition to commercializing new products or services, Park companies are involved with research activity at NDSU. For example, Bobcat recently announced a $600,000 research and development partnership with NDSU.
S: As former CEO of Bobcat Company and Otter Tail Corporation, how do you think your experience will add to the success of the Research and Technology Park?
H: I think the best thing is just having a bigger picture perspective and the perspective of private business. I have some experience in planning with larger corporations that also should help.
S: What is the process for finding a permanent executive director?
H: With the direction of the strategic plan, a position description will be developed for the executive director position. The research park board will establish a subcommittee to evaluate and recommend a person for the job that has the experience and skill sets identified in the planning process and summarized in the position description.
S: Do you think it will be different running a nonprofit business rather than Bobcat or Otter Tail?
H: Much is the same, as the business of business is consistent across industries and for profit/nonprofit activities. I think the biggest difference is that this position has so many interested people to keep involved in our activities and in our planning process. Obviously, NDSU and the park are very important, but the RTP is also very important to economic development at the Federal level, as evidenced by the recent Economic Development Administration grant.
S: What made you want to take this position?
H: I am proud of the past accomplishment and growth of the Park, and I am passionate that this success continue. Plus, I was ready to take on a new and exciting challenge.