Terry Neimeyer was vacationing on the Outer Banks of North Carolina when Hurricane Diana devastated the region in 1984. Neimeyer, then executive vice president of the consulting engineering firm now known as KCI Technologies Inc., was impressed to see a travel companion charting the hurricane’s path with a personal computer and spreadsheet software Lotus 1-2-3. “I thought to myself, ‘Gosh, this thing is just going to revolutionize word processing, spreadsheets and engineering,’” says Neimeyer, who now is KCI’s CEO.
Neimeyer’s epiphany led the multidisciplined firm to a new focus on advanced technology. KCI invested in PCs to replace existing “dumb terminals” connected to a VAX mainframe “the size of most people’s bedrooms,” Neimeyer says. The move positioned KCI well for the modern era of CAD, born in 1987 with the groundbreaking 3D program called Pro/ENGINEER. The firm also had the foresight to rename itself KCI Technologies in 1991, a few years before the tech boom.
The Sparks, Md.-based company has aimed to keep pace with emerging technologies ever since, not only because the market demands it, but because technologies have given public-sector clients more bang for their limited bucks. KCI was among the first firms in the region to design fiber-optic cabling and server infrastructure for telecommunications and broadband networks. Two decades ago, KCI started a geographic information systems group for spatial and geographic data management that has evolved into programming, asset management and environmental compliance. The firm continues to try to stay ahead of the technological curve. In one notable step, KCI has established an innovation incubator program in which employees pitch ideas for new endeavors for the firm to pursue.
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