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Harris Corp: Well-Grounded

Howard Lance
Harris CEO Howard Lance [Photo: Jeffrey Camp]

Howard Lance hits the five-year mark this month as president and CEO of Melbourne-based Harris Corp.

Florida Trend: What is causing such strong growth, and how do you expect that to play out in the future?

Howard Lance: A good portion of that has come from increased investments we’ve made in research and development. If we went back just two years ago, only about 15% of our revenue was coming from new products. In the quarter just ended, that number has grown to almost 35%. The other half is where we’re doing large system integration programs and providing services for different U.S. government agencies.

FT: Harris has been selling a lot of Falcon radios to the U.S. government. What happens during peacetime?

HL: One of the other fundamentals of my business philosophy is not to be overly dependent on any one business or product. We’re much more diversified as a company than we were five years ago.

FT: Do you anticipate substantial staff increases in the next one to three years?

Over the past five years
» Sales have more than doubled from $1.87 billion to $4.2 billion.
» Earnings have more than quadrupled from $86.2 million to $391 million.
» Market cap has nearly quadrupled from $2.2 billion to about $8.5 billion.
» Stock price has quadrupled from $15.93 to about $65 a share — a record high.
» Employment has nearly doubled from 9,500 to nearly 16,000 globally and has climbed from 4,900 to about 7,000 in Florida.
HL: Our Florida-based growth might be at a little slower rate than in some other parts of the country. That’s a function of which of our businesses are growing and at which rate. And also, we have seen a little more of a challenge locally in bringing new employees to Florida because costs here are going up faster than in other parts of the country.

FT: People say you’ve changed the culture at Harris. What was your intention, and what kinds of results have you seen?

HL: My goal wasn’t to change everything but to build on what I thought was a really good foundation. A lot of people who’ve been here awhile would say today we think a little differently and we’re willing to do things differently to expand the business. We’re willing to think outside of the traditional box in looking at new customers, new markets, new technologies.