The task seemed simple back in 1994: Create a world-class US membership organization based on a German technology that has no market share outside of Germany. And you have no money and no members to start this organization. And the largest automation company in the US will hate you. And those are the positive points.
Twenty Years of PROFIBUS and PROFINET in North America
So began the adventure into a technology world filled with new buzz words, all translated from German to English. And no one knew what they meant. After a year of endless head butting into walls, I finally met the folks given a similar simple task: Set up a Competency Center for PROFIBUS in Johnson City. As time went on, I met the president of SE&A (Siemens Energy and Automation as it was known at that time) Roy Slavin. He listened to what I proposed and gave me the tools to go build an organization quickly. Then Roy did a crazy thing – he went to Wonderware and gave me Carl Henning to form the 1st Board of Directors. So with Siemens and Wonderware’s support, I set off to build the PTO (catchy name, huh?).
Building an Organization
Now that I was on my way, I needed people to help (actually do the real work). And in those early years, many people pitched in to build the PTO brand. We expanded and added Endress+Hauser, GE, Phoenix Contact, and Softing to the Board of Directors. The membership has grown from roughly 60 companies to over 150 members. As the journey and the adventure and the technologies mature, we have a new crop of best friends: some we’ve known forever elsewhere in the industry, and some new faces. And while it’s nice to work with companies we’ve known for decades, it’s exciting to see new people join our membership.
So, “what next”, you ask? Well, we are structuring PI North America (not quite as catchy as PTO) for the next 5 years because no one can plan any further than that with the technology environment we live in today. The membership is strong, the financials are strong, the marketing is still strong and relevant, and the application stories are getting better and better. As an organization we still help and educate and promote – the three things we have done since the beginning. And will continue to do. And what have we accomplished – a worldwide membership of over 1400 paying members, nearly 50 million PROFIBUS devices installed, nearly 10 million PROFINET devices installed and operations in 29 countries. Not bad for that simple task 20 years later.
– Michael Bryant
Executive Director, PI North America
Deputy Chairman, PI