Like an artist, Sid Green is a visionary: He can imagine the future and has the tools to create it.
Green, chairman/president of Terra Tek Inc., was honored Thursday as 1991 Entrepreneur of Year by MountainWest Venture Group.Reading the inscription of the giant-size artist's brush presented to Green, Mountainwest board member Roy S. Jesperson said Green "always sees the big picture. Not only has Sid seen the big picture: Here in Utah he's painted the big picture."
Green grew up in a small Missouri town. He holds a number of degrees from the University of Missouri, Rolla, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford University.
Until 1970, Green worked as an engineer for General Motors Corp. - a company that in 1969 gave him a big bonus, a department head's title and a new Corvette.
"A year later, my Corvette was a year old, my bonus was gone and being a department head no longer fascinated me," he said.
For all the perks of corporate America, one thing General Motors couldn't give him was a chance to build his own business. Wayne Brown, former University of Utah dean of engineering and founder of several Utah companies, could.
So Green moved to Utah to help build Terra Tek Inc., a geoscience services company in energy and mineral resource recovery and development.
In the beginning, Green and Brown had no employees and no sales. Today, the company, which was the first full-time resident of the University of Utah Research Park, now resides in three buildings, employs 140 people and has annual sales of about $15 million.
One reason for Terra Tek's success was "we made some very right decisions," among them broadening its focus to a broad-based energy company. Another major payoff came from developing research into commercial products.
But the evolution of Terra Tek has had its downside as well. "First, we missed our window to go public in 1980. . . The window hasn't been open since," he said.
When the oil and gas market took a nosedive in the mid-1980s, so did Terra Tek's markets. Said Green: "Our markets didn't go down 20 percent, they went down to 20 percent."
Another blow was Brown's untimely death in 1988. He and four members of his family were killed in a plane crash in New Mexico.
Somehow, Terra Tek withstood the adversity. "We hung in there. We've played square with our banks and it worked out," he said.
Upon accepting the award, Green offered other entreprenuers a few bits of advice:
- "Building a business is like skiing or chess - it's something you work on all your life."
- "Try not to let your head get too big during the good times."
- "A simple goal: have fun and make money. If you can't do one without the other, something's wrong with you. But if you have too much fun this year, you many not have nearly as much fun the next."