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Steve Helmbrecht, CFO, Itron

Liberty Lake in Eastern Washington may not be an obvious headquarters site for a company with global reach. Itron’s CFO Steve Helmbrecht admits as much, that when talking to prospective customers, “Sometimes I have to point out Spokane on the map.” But the maker of digital smart-grid systems for electricity and water is riding a growing worldwide appetite for better resource management.

This shift to a global strategy is still relatively new to the 35-year-old company, driven by its more recent focus on metering systems in only the last eight years. Itron’s systems use computer networks to provide ongoing feedback and analysis, reduce waste and make sure that electricity or water are routed to where they are needed at the right times. Helmbrecht notes that the shift has also pushed the company to evolve into a comprehensive provider of solutions and services, rather than just a technology vendor.

Philip Mezey, who has played a key role in strengthening Itron’s global energy business and takes over as the company’s new CEO on January 1, said in his first conference call with analysts that Itron has a significant opportunity to take the integrated telecommunications, hardware and software services it is now offering to customers in North America to new customers overseas. “The world is moving toward connected systems and intelligence … to maximize resources, modernize the grid and provide for a growing populations,” said Mezey. “Itron is poised to take advantage of this shift.”