John Haake: A bright future in diode lasers

“Entrepreneurs need to stay focused on what is important,” says entrepreneur John Haake, EE’86, MS EE’88, co-founder of Nuvonyx Inc., the United States’ only manufacturer of high-power industrial laser systems. And Haake has stayed focused on his business goals with laser-like precision.

“You need to recognize the applications of new technology, and if you have a good idea for a technology application, you should jump out and do something about it,” he says.

Haake has been involved in the development of lasers and applications for direct-diode laser systems for the past 18 years. He was with McDonnell Douglas and Boeing for 10 years before founding Nuvonyx in 1998 with Allen Priest and chief executive officer Mark Zediker.

Nuvonyx, located in the St. Louis suburb of Bridgeton, Mo., manufactures high-power direct-diode laser systems for materials processing applications including welding, brazing, heat treating, paint stripping, cladding, surface treating and curing. The company has grown to approximately 35 employees.

Haake lives in St. Charles, Mo., and serves as the company’s vice president of technology. Even before co-founding Nuvonyx, he was constantly following his ideas and dreams. He holds 25 patents. “I also have several pending,” he says. “I was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug quickly after I graduated.”

During college, however, Haake says he had no clue what he would be doing for the rest of his life. “I figured I would be doing something with engineering,” he says. “I didn’t have a complete vision of my future.”
Now, Haake believes vision is an important possession for all entrepreneurs. “You have to see trends, see the big picture,” he says. “Entrepreneurship is more of a visual thing than technical. You need to recognize when you see something, be able to communicate this vision to others, especially to investors, and have the drive to support your ideas.”

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