Bring the Company Back on a Path of Growth

Eric Joely, CEO of Coreflow, took office when the company was in a state of crisis. Strategic change and focus brought the company back on track to profitability and growth in the target market of flat-panel display (FPD) and semiconductor manufacturing. He now strives to develop additional growth channels where the company's technology can bring value

Bring the company back on a path of growth
Asaf Ronen

About Coreflow: "The company develops, manufactures, and markets advanced aeromechanical solutions for FPD and semiconductor manufacturers. With more than 800 installations worldwide, the systems produced by Coreflow are part of production lines at the world's leading FPD plants, including Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Sharp, etc. The company has recently launched a range of advanced aeromechanical solutions that offer innovative handling and conveying solutions for silicon wafers in the semiconductor manufacturing process, preventing backside contamination and handling ultra-thin and warped wafers. Coreflow brings decades of integrated aeromechanical expertise to the market, to deliver manufacturing solutions of unmatched quality, precision, and stability, which minimize risk and maximize manufacturing yield and throughput."

A model of coexistence: "Coreflow offices in Israel are located in the Druze village of Daliyat al-Carmel. They[NG1]  are a model of Israeli creativity and innovation, professionalism, and true pluralism. The company has sales and support offices in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China, and Germany."

Main challenges: "In general, I faced two main challenges. The first was to return the company to a path of profitability and growth in our original FPD market, after a slump; the second was to open up additional growth channels for the company, both within the FPD market, and in other markets where our technology can bring value. The goal was to restore the company’s position as a world leader in conveying substrates in the manufacturing of flat screens. I was amazed at how fast one can initiate and lead change. I made a daring and in retrospect correct decision to focus exclusively on complex and involved applications in this market. This focus returned us very quickly to center stage, and within a year we reached profitability and an annual growth trajectory of about 20% -40%. After positioning ourselves as a world leader, we expanded the range of our solutions to additional production processes, and at the same time invested in finding a new growth engine. We chose to focus on the semiconductor manufacturing market."

Breaking out of the niche market

Challenges in the age of Covid-19: "Most of our customers are in Asia, therefore we were exposed to Covid-19 threat at a fairly early stage. We focused on two main goals. Our first goal was to maintain employee health, reduce exposure, and minimize the risk of infection. We enabled employees to work from home even before closures began in Israel. The second goal was to preserve business activity and to ensure our ability to continue delivering systems to our customers. Fortunately, close to the outbreak of the crisis, we received a large order from a leading Korean customer and have been investing most of our efforts in adapting design, procurement, production, and logistics to meeting project requirements."

Work from home or from the office: "I’m a believer in F2F. I believe that in small organizations the presence of employees on the premises has great significance. Employees who work at Intel don’t have to physically come to the office to feel the strength of the place. The sense of identity and belonging in a small company is different. On one hand, it’s easier to identify with a small group of people, but on the other hand, the source of identification is in personal presence: fruitful conversations in the corridors, meals together, and the like."

The next challenge: "How do we break the glass ceiling of the niche market we’re in? We are currently investing strategic efforts in finding a third market to create a third leg that will stabilize the strategic base of the  company."

Eric Joely
Eric JoelyAsaf Ronen

"Before Covid-19, we enjoyed excellent momentum of our growth engines, which we had built in recent years through intensive strategic work, to increase our earning power by expanding our activity and presence in the world, and by expanding vertical integration in the range of products and services we provide. Nevertheless, this is a time of extremely high uncertainty. We must first get through the crisis that COVID-19 is causing, and will continue to adapt to a new reality  for some time. At the same time, we are obliged to continue to develop new markets. We must begin serial production of several products, which are currently being evaluated by leading semiconductor companies. And as I said, we need to find a third target market for Coreflow technology."

The opinion of each employee is taken into consideration

Contents of the personal toolbox: “I’m a learner, and always try to see how I can add something new to my arsenal of abilities in every situation. When I joined the labor market I learned to appreciate the many personal skills I had  gained during training in the navy, and in the course of my services as a ship commander and as commander of the officers’ course.”

Characteristics of the team working with you: “I'm afraid my answer will sound like a collection of clichés about a good team, but in our case it's merely the reality.”

“I believe in excellence. Excellence you achieve with excellent people. A company like Coreflow can’t afford to employ weak or mediocre workers. The company’s management team consists of experienced and outstanding people in their field. They are highly professional, endowed with extensive experience and relevant knowledge. They initiate and lead in the areas of their responsibility. I chart a course, help them as much as possible, and try not to interfere too much. We maintain an open and lively dialogue."

The example you set for employees: "Openness and listening. The opinion of each employee is taken into consideration. Directness enables us to unite the company around clear goals and decisions that drive the business activity. One of our values is “disagree and commit.” There are quite a few substantive debates around business and technological aspects, and you are entitled not to agree, but once a decision has been made you are expected to join forces at full steam. The work atmosphere encourages personal responsibility, development of new initiatives and ideas, free access of each employee to any level in the organization, and mutual assistance (you won’t find battles of egos here). This spirit welds together the different departments and creates a synergy that is reflected in the development and production of new solutions at higher than customary speed.”

Close up and personal: Eric Joely

Age and marital status: 56, married + 3.

Education: Bachelor's degree (cum laude) in mechanical engineering from the Technion. MBA from the University of Haifa.

Current position: CEO of Coreflow.

Management experience: Served in a wide range of positions, from technical manager, through operations manager for traditional technology companies, and later in a variety of positions in marketing, sales, and business development for technology companies.

A character you would like to meet: "Ernest Shackleton, a British explorer who participated in several important expeditions to Antarctica. I recently read the book Endurance and made the acquaintance of  a manager who was an extraordinary leader. On one hand, a groundbreaking, brave, and tough man. On the other hand, a sensitive leader who was aware of the needs and troubles of his team members. He knew how to navigate under inhuman conditions, and finally (spoiler alert), to bring everyone home safely."