Applied Image’s new owner, Glenn Jackling ’97, is readying
the photonics pioneer for even bigger things
October 27, 2022 | By Benet Career Management Center Staff
Glenn Jackling ’97 was at home with his family on New Year’s Eve 2022 when he received the news: He was now the owner of Applied Image Inc., a global supplier of precision-imaged optical components and calibration standards.
Earlier in the year, the company’s owner had begun exploring options to sell. Several potential buyers expressed enthusiastic interest, but none could guarantee closing by his year-end goal. Working with a mezzanine financing company, Jackling, who was already CEO and president, put in a bid and closed the deal on December 31.
Jackling got an early taste of business-growth leadership at Eastman Kodak Co., where he worked for 13 years. Among other roles, he was part of a team that developed a strategic plan for a half-billion-dollar business unit. As his interests turned from engineering to business he enrolled in the Executive MBA program at Simon Business School.
His focus on strategy and finance at Simon propelled Jackling to move into a career of executive and consulting stints during a time of regional upheaval as Rochester’s Big Three employers—Kodak, IBM, and Xerox—downsized.
“I was able to step into executive and leadership roles in an industry-agnostic way,” he says, “quickly evaluate the situation, put a plan together to right the ship, and create a new trajectory for the business to drive profitable growth.”
Jackling says at Simon, he gained the courage and confidence to apply the quantitative coursework the school is known for to real-life business problems. As a result, he regularly encourages MBA students to seek challenging coursework and the broad experiences to put it into practice.
“Don’t cast your net too narrow because opportunities could come from any experience,” he says. “Finding (a job applicant) who checks all the boxes is different from finding someone right for the job. We value people who come with curious minds and can articulate how they can help us.”
Founded in 1978, Applied Image is a pioneer and industry leader in photonics. The technology uses light sources such as LEDs and laser diodes in almost every conceivable application—from cell phone cameras to calibration testing for the camera systems on two Mars Rover missions and the International Space Station.
Applied Image is among 150 Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster members, along with the University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics and RIT. Far from its Big Three days, Rochester today is a multi-company center of science and technology, education, and research, and the photonics imaging industry plays a leading role.
Jackling joined Applied Image in 2013 for a yearlong project. The retiring president tapped him for the role as the project was winding down. Part of the deal was to serve undercover for three months in operational roles. What he learned was eye-opening: The company had a clunky ERP system, which hampered formal scheduling, job order costing, and data-based decisions. It also lacked a certified quality system and accredited laboratory. He led upgrades in those areas, bringing more structure and establishing more credibility in the market.
Jackling understood that capturing manufacturing and process data and implementing rigorous analytical measures was crucial to position Applied Image for future opportunities. So he tapped what he learned at Simon to make it happen.
“From the Simon perspective, my organizational architecture was balanced out on the ‘three legs of my stool,’ supported by clear measures, incentives, and having decision-making authority in the right place,” he says.
The photonics industry is exploding, and Jackling has ambitious plans for Applied Image. “We have investors that want to see the business grow, so we’re starting to think outside the box in that regard.”
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