Tuesday, March 20, 2012

David Jorgensen’s Company History, Including Katun Corporation

You could call David Jorgensen a company man, but only because he developed the skills to co-found businesses where none existed. His companies have included Occidental Publishing, which produced college textbooks; Computer Synectics, which engaged in measuring and improving computer performance; and Katun Corporation, a supplier of OEM-compatible parts for imaging equipment. David Jorgensen honed his business skills working for others at Boeing in Seattle, Washington; Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International) in Menlo Park, California; and Dataquest, Inc., in San Jose, California.

Occidental Publishing, a “nights and weekends” enterprise that was started on a shoestring, did not succeed, but Mr. Jorgensen still thinks he and his partner, who worked for The McGraw-Hill Companies and had an intimate knowledge of the business, identified a viable market opportunity. In 1969, David Jorgensen traded writing his Ph.D. dissertation for the excitement and challenge of co-founding a startup. That company, Computer Synectics, produced monitors for measuring and improving computer operations. Jorgensen and his partners built up the company to more than $1 million in sales, even in the weak economy of the early 1970s, but Computer Synectics failed to make it in the face of competition like IBM.

In 1979, David Jorgensen established Katun Corporation with a partner, which played a significant role in legitimizing the aftermarket for office equipment. From the kitchen and garage of his partner’s home, Jorgensen helped Katun grow into a major competitor in the industry, expanding to Europe and building multiple distribution centers. The men also forged partnerships with key manufacturers, acquired several businesses, and opened a subsidiary, Minco Manufacturing, LLC. Private-equity investors bought Katun in 2002 after it reached sales of $350 million, enabling David Jorgensen to focus on philanthropic efforts. He now utilizes his business skills for nonprofit organizations, including the David and Annette Jorgensen Foundation and the National Philanthropy Board of the Pacific Legal Foundation.

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