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Innovation Assists Alumnus Jeff Haggerty as Change Agent

August 6, 2013

Jeff -haggerty -digitrace -photo

Alumni Award Winner: Jeff Haggerty, a 1993 mechanical engineering alumnus, has been president and CEO of Digitrace Inc. since 2009. He was one of three Class of 1993 class members receiving the Alumni Association’s Career Achievement Awards this year. (Photo provided)

Innovation takes many forms, and looks quite different depending on the industry and location you’re in. Those are the lessons learned by Rose-Hulman mechanical engineering alumnus Jeff Haggerty, whose engineering career has gone from manufacturing production to leadership of a service organization.

Since 2009, Haggerty has been president and CEO of Digitrace Inc., a Michigan-based onsite testing, calibration, and repair company serving the cable television industry. The Federal Communications Commission enforces high technical standards in the cable business, requiring operators to undergo periodic calibrations and proof-of-performance testing. That’s where Digitrace comes in.

Haggerty implemented changes in the testing equipment and the way the work and workforce were organized—with impressive results. A round of testing 110 systems that once took about eight weeks was transformed into a five-week testing period covering 147 systems. That made it easier to keep up with the workload, and reduced travel expenses. In three years, company revenues grew from $1.7 million to $3.3 million, while adding just two people to the original nine-member workforce.

Earlier success stories came in management for Associated Spring, bringing innovation to leading the startup of a production facility in Monterrey, Mexico.

“I took all of the company’s best practices and put them into practice in one facility,” Haggerty recalls. “We figured as close to a perfect process as we could.”

The result was a much shorter production time, using significantly less manufacturing space, and generating only one-third the amount of scrap. Lean manufacturing principles led the way, along with the applied logical processes that Haggerty developed at Rose-Hulman.

Haggerty returned from Mexico in 2007 and became a business unit manager for the spring maker, overseeing a $30 million facility. He implemented the same types of innovations and improvements there as well.

Earlier this year, Haggerty joined 1993 classmates Steven Bakota and Jeff Papa in receiving Alumni Association’s Career Achievement Award.

Change was also a part of Haggerty’s life Rose-Hulman. As Student Government Association President, he helped lead student efforts that brought coeducation to the campus landscape. “We did a lot of research that analyzed the benefits and consequences,” he recalls. “Our primary focus was how coeducation would enhance academics and recruiting. I’m proud that Rose-Hulman took the necessary step to move forward, and am happy with how my college has prospered from that decision.” He was also active in the residence life staff and Triangle fraternity chapter.

Haggerty graduated two years before the first female students arrived on campus. He married a 1993 St. Mary-of-the-Woods College alumna and the couple has three children.