Executive of the Year

James Takayesu

Award Sponsor: Bartlett, Pringle & Wolf LLP

It seems like Jim Takayesu was destined to work for or with the government from the day he was born, at a Nebraska Strategic Air Command Base. After completing a degree in Electrical Engineering at Mississippi State University, Jim followed his father’s career path and joined the Air Force. During two years of his time at MSU, Jim worked at the NASA Johnson Space Center on the Space Shuttle and Solar Power Satellite System programs.

Upon graduation, Jim was commissioned as an Air Force Officer and was stationed at the Los Angeles Air Force Base. During this time, he met his future wife Becky, also an Air Force Officer. Jim supported the Space and Missile Systems Center, worked as an engineering project manager, and was the liaison for implementing the Commercial Space Launch Act. In 1986, Jim left the Air Force behind and joined Tecolote Research as a cost analyst and was quickly promoted. In just seven years, Jim was named Senior Vice President for Operations. Two years later, Jim was elected President and CEO by the Tecolote Research Board of Directors.

In over 20 years of leadership at Tecolote Research, Jim has had a tremendous impact on the success of the company, the careers of hundreds of staff, and the enrichment of employee-stockholders. Today Tecolote boasts a staff of over 500, compared to the 50 employed when Jim joined in 1986. During Jim’s tenure as President and CEO, the value of a share within Tecolote’s ESOP plan has increased over 1,100% and annual revenues have risen from $23M to $114M.  In addition to 22 straight years of positive earnings, Jim has made sure that Tecolote families have been well taken care of by providing 100% company-funded health and welfare benefits.  Tecolote has one of the highest retention rates in the industry, consistently achieving over 90% retention.

Jim maintains a list of tenets which he uses to run the company.  Number one is to “Maintain a Company Where Skilled Staff are Provided a Good and Rewarding Environment in Which to Ply Their Professional Trade.”  Jim has achieved that and much more. Ever humble, Jim has said that he never set out to be the president of the company, but rather attributes his success to always trying to do the right thing by the company and the customers.