Turning Technologies Founder and CEO to Retire

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The founder and CEO of Turning Technologies, one of the downtown’s most successful companies, will retire effective at the close of business Thursday, a spokeswoman confirmed this morning.

Michael Broderick, who launched Turning Technologies in 2001, had been considering retirement for several months, but wanted to ensure that the right person is in place to lead the company, said Sheila Hura, vice president of marketing.

That person is Ethan Cohen, Turning’s chief operating officer and chief technology officer, who will take over as CEO on Friday.

“We brought Ethan on as COO and CTO, and he and Mike have worked alongside one another, and now is the time when he can take the company forward,” Hura said.

Turning Technologies produces audience-response software and hardware systems that are widely used in the education and training markets. The company’s headquarters are downtown, and staffs offices in Scottsdale, Ariz., and international offices in Belfast and Amsterdam.

Broderick says he will remain active on the board of directors and as its second-largest shareholder. A private equity fund, Brockway Moran & Partners in Boca Raton, Fla., is the largest shareholder.

“When we did our last recapitalization in August 2010, part of that was I signed a five-year employment contract. That was up 14 months ago and we’re been positioning over those 14 months to the right time and process for me to slow down personally,” he told The Business Journal.

Broderick’s retirement and Cohen’s appointment come at a time when Turning Technologies is transforming a portion of its business to a software-as-a-service company, often referred to by the acronym SaaS.

The transition called for Turning to merge its customer service and project management divisions to form a “client success team” that could respond more effectively to customer demands, Hura said. She noted that  a “handful of layoffs” have resulted.

Some new employees were hired, Broderick said, emphasizing. “This is not a workforce reduction.”

Over the last 2 1/2 years. Hura said,   Turning has been making the transition of its software division to align its business model to a SaaS platform that offers annual subscriptions, rather than the company’s original model of a one-time only fee.

“In the past, you would purchase our hand-held devices and software and would have it forever,” she said. “It was a one-time perpetual license.” This system included interactive hand-held devices that could provide immediate audience response to questions presented by a lecturer or trainer.

However, technology has changed so rapidly that many are using their own mobile devices, and Turning Technologies had to adapt, Hura noted.

“We are not getting rid of hardware,” she emphasized. “It’s still very important to us. But we needed to get the software portion to an SaaS model.”

Broderick was interviewed earlier this year as part of the Business Journal Daily’s “Thought Leaders” series.

“The world has changed a lot since 2001, 2002 in technology,” he said at the time. “We’ve undertaken a whole process over the last two, three years to take our products from a computer desktop base that connects to different hardware in the classroom to putting it into the cloud, and creating truly enterprise-level solutions that work with both proprietary hardware and other types of mobile devices.”

Turning Technologies was founded in October 2001 and soon became one of the fastest-growing businesses at the Youngstown Business Incubator.

In 2008, the company moved next door into the Taft Technology Building and today employs about 275 people, 160 of whom are downtown. In 2007, Inc. magazine ranked Turning Technologies as the fastest-growing software company in the country.

Pictured: Turning Technologies CEO and founder Michael Broderick was interviewed for The Business Journal’s Thought Leaders segment earlier this year. His final day as the head of Turning is Oct. 13.

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