Top Workplaces special award for work/life flex: Lake Shore Cryotronics
The instruments Lake Shore Cryotronics makes can measure temperature down to five thousandths of a degree of absolute zero, but they can’t measure the magic that goes into building a workforce that clicks. That’s CEO Michael Swartz’s job.
Lake Shore provides sensors, instruments and systems that help researchers characterize semiconductor and magnet materials used to advance materials science—“The types of materials that might end up in your cell phones five or 10 years from now,” says Swartz.
Cryotronics refers to the extremely low temperatures Lake Shore’s tools can measure and help maintain, useful for probing, among other things, semiconductor materials that operate faster at temperatures close to absolute zero—about -459 degrees Fahrenheit, colder than the temperature in space.
Lake Shore Cryotronics was founded in 1968 in Minerva Park by Swartz’s father John Swartz, an Ohio State University engineer, and his uncle, David Swartz. The company has remained family-owned ever since.
The company has grown steadily over time and is now based in Westerville with 158 employees and another 39 in Boston at a newly acquired subsidiary, Janis Research, which makes complimentary low temperature cooling and control systems and equipment.
For Swartz, the path to success has always been to create an atmosphere of autonomy and accountability. “I want to create an environment where people are comfortable making decisions, have the authority and enough information to make them,” he says.
Swartz has studied management philosophy, and it shows. He earned an MBA from Ohio State University in 1989 and says that opened his eyes. “I think it’s important to be continually trying to learn, and learn from others,” he says.
The effort clearly pays off, proven by an average tenure of 10 years and
Latisha Sanders has worked 20 years in electronic assembly and says her last six years with Lake Shore have been the best experience she’s ever had.
Sanders loves the chance to choose between four 10-hour or five eight-hour days. She also appreciates the company’s encouragement toward personal growth.
The company’s care helped carry everyone through the pandemic, Sanders says. Though only half of the company was able to work remotely due to the amount of manufacturing Lake Shore does, Sanders says the changes the company made helped everyone feel safe.
Lake Shore also works hard to instill a sense of mission.
“I know that one of our products was on the rover that recently landed on Mars. The company is really good at acknowledging whenever we meet big commitments, or have projects like that, so everyone can congratulate that team,” Sanders says. “We’re taking part in the science that’s changing people’s lives, so I think that’s motivating to a lot of people.”
Cynthia Bent Findlay is a freelance writer.
Lake Shore Cryotronics
550 Tressler Drive Westerville, OH 43082
Business: Scientific measurement and control systems
CEO: Michael Swartz
Revenue: Would not disclose