Peter Zieve is the CEO, President and Founder of Electroimpact, a Seattle, Washington-based manufacturer and designer of automation assembly systems and machinery for commercial aircraft. Zieve established Electroimpact in 1986, shortly after completing his Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Washington.
An accomplished engineer and entrepreneur, Peter Zieve initially founded Electroimpact as a way to leverage the innovative low voltage electromagnetic riveting tech he developed during doctoral research at UW.
Since that time, Electroimpact has grown into one of the top aerospace automation companies in the field, an engineer-driven enterprise that empowers employees with, according to Zieve, “with vertical responsibility for all work from concept to customer acceptance with minimal bureaucracy and barriers to success.”
Where did the idea for Electroimpact come from?
As part of my doctoral research at UW, I created a low volt electromagnetic (EM) riveting technology I believed had strong potential in the commercial sector, particularly for aerospace applications. I wanted to find a way to commercialize it, but I also had a vision for an “engineer’s company” of sorts where achievement was the main driver of workplace success.
I was able to realize both ideas with Electroimpact, which has flourished ever since.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I wake up and immediately go through my emails. Dealing with employees and inquiries and requests that need my attention. If I’m lucky I can do experimental work but you have to be incredibly productive as an employer of 500 people. I oversee 3 major divisions and everyone has to work together at all times. I’m constantly having to stay on top of things in a demanding environment.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Trying to get other engineers to get excited about new ideas. It’s important to get new ideas in the right hands to bring it to life. It’s all about finding the right engineer for the right idea.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The most exciting thing for Electroimpact is the foreign subsidiaries. The market in the U.S. is not good. So, using technology to supply subsidiaries to their own customers is key. Helping supply those needs to other countries such as France & the UK.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I keep an early and consistent schedule. I go to sleep early and I wake up early.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would say there is plenty of opportunity out there. Enjoy every step of the way. Do things slowly and deliberately.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
This is a common thing for me. I can relate the slogan “Anything that is not tested does not work.” to this question.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Everyone needs to try not to forget things. Calls and emails get filed away. Everyday I try to remember everything that I promise to do for everyone and work at what I haven’t done yet. I make notes to take care of those promised things.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I would say we have tried to adapt our product line to meet current customer requirements. We’ve added so many products in the past years and will continue to keep adding them.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
There are constant failures.Getting to know your customer is something that is so important. But it becomes, you know, it’s much more difficult now than it’s ever been because of the rules and the companies. They don’t send people to conferences anymore… So, it’s still… it’s the only way you can survive. So you gotta get to know your customer.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
In the world today my most important idea is to enjoy what you do, and I love what I do. Getting to know your customer is so important. It’s much more difficult now, but the only way to survive is to know your customer.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Events are always changing. It’s important to keep your history organized. Archiving history is key. One hundred dollars doesn’t do much, but…try to organize your history. That’s very handy… and it doesn’t cost much more than 100 dollars to do that.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I use all of Microsoft’s software. Microsoft Teams is the perfect platform for the current times that we are living in and is one of the most important tools for running a business.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Future Tech.” If you don’t read this book, you won’t understand the aircraft industry. This book is what makes this industry run and It explains how the industry works. It’s all about understanding the role of disruptive technology.
What is your favorite quote?
Trump – “the best is yet to come.” Ronald Reagan – “Socialism only works in two places: heaven, where they don’t need it, and hell, where they already have it.”
- Having a growth mindset – there is so much information available online, once you pick what you want to learn, finding the best educational tools to help you get there is key. But having that intellectual curiosity to continue to learn has paid dividends for both my personal and professional growth.
- Enjoy the now – It is very easy as an entrepreneur to be thinking 5-10 years out about your strategy, business plans, etc. But if you’re not enjoying it ‘in the now”, is it all worth it? I really enjoy all that I am doing and I love sharing these strategies with other business owners.
- Do not be afraid to fail. Every great entrepreneur learns from their mistakes and comes back even better having learned from the pain.
- Find a mentor to gain a new perspective.
- Learn that neither rejection nor failure is the end of the world.
- Use data to help you set goals and expectations.
- Read “What You Do Is Who You Are: How To Create Your Business Culture” by Ben Horowitz.
- Do things right the first time, even if it might take a long time.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.