From the tumultuous Sudan, his family moved to Ethiopia and sent their son to boarding school in Egypt for nine months a year. There he developed a love for running—racing to acclaim in his homeland as well as winning collegiate titles in the United States.
He still jogs a therapeutic run from 3 to 10 miles five times a week, but he is also running the company he founded with the same kind of dedication, discipline and persistence. Optimation Technology Inc. celebrates its 25th anniversary this summer as a global design, engineering and fabrication company with headquarters in Rush, N.Y., offices from Houston to Buffalo, and clients around the world.
For his successful business efforts, William K. Pollock, founder, CEO and president of Optimation Technology, was named recipient of the 2010 Herbert W. Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award by Rochester Institute of Technology’s E. Philip Saunders College of Business and will be honored during a luncheon on April 22 at Oak Hill Country Club.
“This is a very prestigious award, a very high honor and I very much appreciate RIT and all the talented people there,” Pollock says. “Our company has a close association with RIT: We hire RIT students, I’ve taught classes there, and we’ve been involved with the incubator center, the entrepreneurship program, FIRST Robotics and even the Corporate Challenge road race.”
During the past year, Pollock says the economic downturn was difficult and his company had to “hunker down” but overall remains on an upward trend with 360 employees and sales revenues that increased from $6 million in 2002 to $50 million in 2008. Optimation made the Rochester 100 list of fastest-growing private companies several times, most recently ranking second in 2008 and third in 2009.
As Saunders College Dean Ashok Rao says, “Bill Pollock combines the best attributes of technological entrepreneurs—an engineer with business acumen, close ties to his employees and a strong sense of doing social good. He gives freely of his time at RIT telling engineering students of life as an entrepreneur. And Bill and his wife will typically ‘vacation’ each year in Africa working on a community project.”
That project is in the offing: Pollock and his wife, Carolyn, are going to Kenya this summer to help build two dormitories for 36 handicapped children and AIDS orphans who are now living in a single dwelling home.
To attend the award luncheon, contact Donna Slavin at (585) 475-2199 or dslavin @saunders.rit.edu.
Note: RIT’s Herbert W. Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award was created in 1984 and annually goes to a successful individual who developed a business that improved the Rochester economy or whose innovative management skills have changed the course of an existing business. Past recipients include Kitty Van Bortel, president of the Van Bortel Group, James Hammer, president and CEO of Hammer Packaging Corp., Richard Kaplan, president and CEO of Pictometry International Corp., and Arunas Chesonis, chairman and CEO of PAETEC Corp.