Mikohn takes tech turn with McMeekin

August 06, 2002 10:02 AM
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With an eye toward the future, Mikohn Gaming is betting on tech whiz Russ McMeekin.

The 36-year-old McMeekin assumed the reins as president and chief operating officer of the Las Vegas-based company last week. And after putting out a few "small fires,’’ he talked with GamingToday about moving from the world of high-tech telecommunications into the gambling arena.

As president and chief executive officer of ViaFone, the Canadian national led the charge toward a wide range of "mobile enterprise applications." He expects to bring that blend of portability and communications solutions to Mikohn as well.

"I’ve been very impressed. The technical aptitude (at Mikohn) is very high. There’s a top-notch nucleus here,’’ McMeekin said.

With a background in e-business, McMeekin sees big potential payoffs in gaming. "I hope to enhance the lens, to do things faster and smarter,’’ he says. By that, he stresses the importance of focusing.

"At a $110 million company, you have to prioritize. It’s better to do three or four things really well. Great companies know how to say ”˜no.’’’

Prior to joining ViaFone in the San Francisco Bay Area, McMeekin spent more than eight years at Honeywell in Phoenix, where he served as president of e-business. He previously was director of international business operations for SACDA, a process simulation software company in Canada.

Serving on a variety of tech trade groups, he met Mikohn Chairman and CEO David Thompson three years ago. And after leading ViaFone’s recent merger with Extended Systems of Boise, Idaho, McMeekin figured it was time for a change.

"The tech industry is oversupplied for the next two years,’’ he observes. "With gaming, there’s better growth potential and more control of your destiny.’’

McMeekin, who is married with two children, acknowledges he faces a steep learning curve when it comes to gambling. "I just put my first coins into a slot machine two nights ago,’’ he relates. "I didn’t win anything."

But he expects his luck ­­ and Mikohn’s ”” will be improving soon. "Look for some big announcements in September,’’ he says.