Surprise – 2021 Turned out to Be a Lot Like 2020


The problem with making predictions and publishing them is that you can’t hide from how incredibly wrong you were. This time last year, I wrote, “Good Times and Bad Times – 2020 has been a year to remember.” And at the end, I made predictions for 2021. It actually says, “Like most people, we will be working under #covidrules through the first quarter and maybe even a bit into April or May.”

Well, we got that wrong.

Although vaccination and safety measures have allowed many of our employees to return to the office, and we have been traveling much more through 2021 than the previous year, we are still working under #covidrules. The rules are different, but we never got to the “new normal” that we all anticipated. That is the bad news. The good news is that 2021 turned out to be another good year for PADT.

The good news is that everyone is healthy, and although a few employees and their family members got sick, everyone has come through it OK. And being the amazing people everyone at PADT is, they adapted to every curveball that the year sent their way. And as the months quickly moved by, we continued to add to our sales and support capability while still excelling on the technical side.

The First Half of 2021 was all About Growing Sales and Support Capability

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We started the new year off with the addition of Jim Sanford as our new Vice President of Sales & Support. After years of growth in both personnel and customers, we needed a strategic leader who could build on the success PADT has built over the years to become an Ansys Elite and Stratasys Diamond Channel Partner. His leadership experience at Siemens, MSC, and Dassault has proved invaluable and served the team and our customers well as we increased our sales and support capability across the first half of the year.

Stratasys recognized our multi-year success in March of 2021 by elevating PADT’s status from Platinum to Diamond Channel Partner. PADT has been using, supporting, and selling Stratasys 3D Printers in the four-corner region since the late 1990s. In March, when Stratasys announced the status change, we had sold 883 printers to 506 customers in the region. Our sales and support team in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah worked hard through 2021 to add to those numbers.

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Other digital manufacturing OEMs noticed our success, and PADT became a reseller for EOS Metal 3D Printers in March, then optical and laser scanning systems from #HandsOnMetrology in April. EOS is the leading provider of metal, Laser Powder Bed Fusion systems in the world. #HandsOnMetrology is the result of ZEISS and GOM merging their 3D scanning solutions to create the leading provider in that area as well.

All of that growth required a larger, restructured team. So in June and July, we reorganized the Simulation and 3D Printing sales and support team to better respond to customers. This included promoting Ted Harris, Alan McNeil, and Kathryn Pesta to Director level positions overseeing simulation support, enterprise solutions, and sales operations, respectively. To assist Ted, long-time Ansys technical expert Doug Oatis took over as the leader of the application engineering team. We also added three new engineers to support simulation and 3D Printing customers.

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Looking back at the end of the year, all of these improvements turned out well. The growth of simulation, 3D Printing, and scanning use at existing and new customers is just one metric. We have also successfully added new products in both the Ansys and Stratasys family as well as the two new product lines mentioned above. All while keeping our customers productive as they grow and adapt to the changes 2020 and 2021 have delivered.

The Second Half was About Technological Innovation

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PADT’s growth and success in Sales and Support is partially a result of the company’s long tradition of technical excellence. When engineering organizations are stressed, they count on partners who step up and step in to help. That is what PADT’s engineers did across 2021. This was highlighted in the second half of the year in several ways.

The first was the release of PADT’s tool that converts Ansys Mechanical results into a 3MF file. PADT’s unique position as expert in both 3D Printing and Simulation enabled our engineers to create this powerful tool that can be downloaded from the Ansys Store. “AM Result Printer” is also a great example of PADT’s ability to use the open API in Ansys products to create customer utilities and applications.

Speaking of our unique Simulation and 3D Printing expertise, NASA awarded PADT a Phase III STTR Research Grant to continue our work with Universities to utilize bio-inspired geometries in space structures. In this phase of the research, PADT will work with Penn State University to integrate the optimization tools we developed in-house with their CFD optimization tools to do multiphysics topological optimization.

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The final recognition of technical achievement came in November when PADT employees were listed as Co-Inventor on two patents. A little research showed that current or former PADT employees were listed on 16 total patents in 2020 and 2021. That is an impressive number and a strong endorsement of the innovative capabilities of PADT’s technical team.

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We Did Have a Chance to Get Together

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Although many events were hybrid or virtual-only, we were able to safely gather for a few important forums. We exhibit and present at the Design & Manufacturing | MD&M Show in Anaheim, the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, the New Mexico Tech Council’s experienceITnm, and multiple Arizona Technology Council events, including this year’s Governor’s Celebration of Innovation. I was able to attend the signing of the Arizona Angel Tax Credit Extension, Venture Madness, and UnMet in person. But best of all, we were able to hold our annual Nerdtoberfest open house at PADT in October. It was mostly outside, but still a great gathering.

Many salespeople and support engineers were able to visit customers, and a few customers visited our offices every week. We also held a few teambuilding events both in person and virtually and many of our employees were finally able to take a vacation and see family and friends around the world. Not as much travel or interactions as we had hoped, but it was good to bring a pocket full of masks and get out and about.

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PADT is Ready for 2022

We learned our lesson last year. There will be no predictions for 2022.

What we do know is it will surprise us, our customers will count on us to be there, and we know for certain that PADT’ outstanding employees will rise to whatever challenges the year brings.

Our goals for 2022 are:

  • Venture out and about as much as possible
  • Continue to support local, regional, and national events wether virtual, hybrid, or in person.
  • Build on the growth we saw in 2021 in our sales and marketing team.
  • Continue to devlop our technical leadership
  • Make the best of whatever the year throws our way

As Always, Thank You!

Like last year, PADT is extremely fortunate to have had a good year both personally and professionally. It has been much worse for many people and we are thankful for our partners, our customers, and our employees.

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