Steven Koles points to a clip on his computer. “Check this out,” he says, running an old Communist propaganda film. In it, a farmer tells tales of an agrarian utopia: tractors transform into automated machines that plow fields by themselves. “Funny, isn’t it?” he says. Yet, strangely prophetic.
Koles, president and CEO of Hemisphere GPS, is leading the 250-employee company to a future when John Deere tractors will sow and plow fields without a driver. It already sells GPS-guided steering systems that can let a farmer put his feet up while the vehicle follows a preprogrammed pattern around the field.
In 2006, Koles came along to put Hemisphere back on track. Then named CSI Wireless Inc., the company was aimless. Besides GPS, it had ventured into wireless telecommunications and telematics. It was floundering in
three directions; its stock withered like weeds sprayed by Roundup.
After Koles came over from AOL Canada Inc., where he was vice-president and general manager of Internet services, he sold off everything but the GPS business. Then he dramatically returned the renamed Hemisphere GPS to record profitability. The stock shot up from $1.67 to a 52-week high of $4.92. That’s like hitting a grand-slam for Koles, an avid skier who was a member of the Alberta Alpine Ski Team in his teens, and has played club soccer all his life. “I just like winning,” he says. “It’s a factor that that governs almost everything
Koles’ next goal is to garner more recognition for the innovative technology work that’s going on in Alberta. “On a national basis, I don’t think Alberta gets its fair crack,” he says. “Part of me really wants Alberta to get noticed on the map.”
Way Days of Sharing
of Internet Providers
Inc. (later renamed
Netera Alliance Inc.)