Xact Metal’s CEO Juan Mario Gomez spent decades working as an executive with GE before leaving to pursue a more entrepreneurial environment. A seemingly kismet meeting started what’s now a fast-growing company.
After leaving GE, Gomez connected with Invent Penn State and the Happy Valley ecosystem, including Ben Franklin Technology Partners and the angel investor community. He ultimately received an invitation to an angel investor event that coincided with the graduation of Ben Franklin’s TechCelerator program. It was there that Gomez met a young group of graduating students who were passionate about metal 3D printing.
“They were trying to do things around multi-metal printing technologies,” he explains. “In the process, they realized they needed a metal 3D printer, but they were students with little money. They couldn’t buy a printer, so they decided to build one.”
That initial printer actually worked and the group printed a part. It was small and didn’t perform well, but it was still a success. When Gomez and the group put their heads together, they realized that there was an interest in multi-metal printing, but a greater need for the industry lay in low-cost, metal 3D printing.
And so, the stars aligned and Xact Metal was born. We sat down with Gomez to learn more about Xact Metal and his experience as a Happy Valley CEO.
Gomez: Absolutely. We never sacrifice print quality but focusing on cost has allowed us to introduce an affordable printer that typically costs one-third of others on the market. We’ve taken technology that traditionally only large, very rich companies could afford and made it accessible for small and medium enterprises. We’re also trying to give companies the ability to decentralize the technology so companies can have it next to the relevant people who use it, rather than outsourcing these processes.
“The value we’re providing is very real. We only had a small decrease in sales from 2019 to 2020 and in this past year, we’ve grown the company 2.7 times. So, we’re growing the company and we have built a network of 26 resellers around the world who believe in us, which shows us that there is real value in our hypothesis, that this is something the market really needs.”
COVID was difficult for us as [it was for] any other company, but it also made us realize that the value we’re providing is very real. We only had a small decrease in sales from 2019 to 2020 and in this past year, we’ve grown the company 2.7 times. So, we’re growing the company and we have built a network of 26 resellers around the world who believe in us, which shows us that there is real value in our hypothesis, that this is something the market really needs.
Gomez: A company is defined by its people. It’s the combined holistic group of people who create a culture, how we treat our customers and how we treat each other.
We have a policy here that you have six weeks of vacation the day you start. It’s a way to help our team balance work and life. Having downtime is so important. It allows you to do things like write a book, climb a mountain, go around the world — whatever you want to do outside of work while you’re still able to, not just after you have retired. We want our team to have a balanced life and to feel like they’re really living.
Gomez: Out of all the places in the world, this is one of the greatest to start a company. The ecosystem is very strong for entrepreneurs. It’s also home to one of the top universities in the world, granting us access to both talent and technology here. We find that, right here in the region, there are skilled, committed people who love the lifestyle that Happy Valley has to offer. That makes it really special.
To learn more about Xact Metal and how it’s using breakthrough technology to make 3D metal printing affordable, visit https://xactmetal.com/.
Gomez: My days are highly diverse. I can’t tell you that any one day is the same, but a “typical” day for me starts with me coming in and tackling financial tasks. Then I spend a lot of time focusing on commercialization activities, including talking with our sales team and our dealers to get a better understanding of where they are and what’s going on with the pipeline. I also spend a lot of time with Abigail, our marketing manager, developing social media, marketing campaigns, website generation and our other marketing efforts. Then the remainder of the day starts being about product development and what we can do to continue moving forward.
I also try to walk every day for about an hour in the evening. It helps me deal with COVID and stress and helps keep me fit and healthy. I find that it’s a good time to change my focus, meditate and think about where we’re going next.
Gomez: Our focus is on price, which is the value we bring to the market. We offer the same quality product to customers as our competitors, our competitors just have more expensive machines. But what makes us really different is that when people meet us, they like us. They like who we are, what we’re doing, how we treat them and how we talk to them. They like our honesty. And that goes a very long way. We have people saying, “We love Xact Metal.”
“But what makes us really different is that when people meet us, they like us. They like who we are, what we’re doing, how we treat them and how we talk to them. They like our honesty. And that goes a very long way. We have people saying, “We love what you’re doing here.”
That happens very organically because they appreciate the culture of who we are and how we behave. That makes Xact Metal special in our eyes. It’s not just about being the less expensive option, we’re also delivering an experience that makes our customers like us and want to work together.