Interview with SolidWorks COO Jeff Ray

I had a few minutes during SolidWorks World to sit down and talk with Jeff Ray, chief operating officer of SolidWorks. Jeff’s been with the company for two years now, and this is his second SolidWorks World event. Jeff is a well-known “channel guy” so I focused many of my questions on the channel program.

Q. SolidWorks is growing, clearly evident by the size of this year’s event. How do you plan to hold on to the uniqueness of the company as it expands?

A. What gets many companies in trouble when they expand is a loss of focus. They forget where they started, and after a while, they’re not doing anything at all very well. Our goal is to stick with what our customers find important, which is developing software that supports building the world’s best products.

Q. What are your goals for the channel program? In other words, how are you going to bring SolidWorks from a quarter billion to a half billion dollar company?

A. The beauty of the channel program is that we live and die by each other’s success and failure. If we want to grow 20 to 30 percent a year, than each of our channels have to grow at that same rate. Our responsibility is to go beyond what other companies to. Many companies play games with their channels, for example, they bring in resellers who are not qualified just to have more resellers. Our goal is to help our resellers become better business people. We give our resellers tools to address basic business issues, such as how do you recruit and hire great people? How do you develop a better marketing program? We work with our resellers as business consultants to offer them programs that address their individual needs. Some of our programs are personal and direct in nature, others are more general.

Q. Where are the opportunities for growth at SolidWorks? What areas of the world are you looking to expand in?
A. We don’t really work that way. It’s much more precise than that. We take it down to a zip code level and look for specific areas were we need to either strengthen a reseller or add a new one. But we break it down by zip code or specific areas.

Q. What new industries is SolidWorks expanding into?

A. We are seeing a lot of growth in the consumer product industry with our focus on surfacing tools in SolidWorks. And the medical products industry finds SolidWorks attractive because they need precise products and integrated analysis tools. COSMOSWorks provides proof of how designs function to make it easier for many medical design company to get insurance. And in some cases, COSMOSWorks enables companies to speed the FDA approval process. And then we find the unexpected, people like Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, who use SolidWorks to design some of the products on their TV show “Mythbusters.”

Amy Castor

Matthew West

SolidWorks alumnus. I like plate reverb, Rat pedals, Thai curry, New Weird fiction, my kids, Vespas, Jazzmasters, my wife & Raiders of the Lost Ark. Not necessarily in that order.