In 2015, Meghan Summers-West was appointed President of CNC Software, the Connecticut-based developer of Mastercam. Founded in 1983 by her father, Mark Summers, CNC Software is one of the most prestigious companies in the PC-based CAD/CAM industry.
From the time she was just 12 years old, Meghan was primed to one day succeed her father. When she asked for a cat, her father required her to put together a business plan.
“If your decisions are well thought out, rather than just spur-of-the-moment, the outcome is generally better,” Mark told Hartford Business.
Remarkably, Meghan drew up a successful plan, and she got the cat, Buddy who stuck around with the family for 19 years. And much like her experiences with the cat, she wasn’t just handed the position of President.
Meghan wanted to run the company since she was 5 years old. This dream grew even more persistent when she accompanyied her father on a business trip to Japan at age 14.
After earning a business degree at Bentley University, Meghan was told by her father to get a job at another company and to build experience somewhere away from home. She subsequently moved to Hawaii, working as a Development Associate for the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. Here she also completed her MBA before returning home.
Even though she started at CNC in 2009, it would take some years to prove to her father that she was ready for the top job. Beginning in the Marketing department, Meghan rose through the ranks to become Operations Manager in 2011.
The big announcement came in April 2015, directly from Mark to his 200 employees via teleconference.
“As many people close to the Summers family know, this transition has been almost 32 years in the making. My daughter Meghan was born the same year that my brothers and I officially launched Mastercam and established CNC Software Inc. in 1983,” Mark beamed. “For the majority of you who have watched Meghan grow up in these offices and have been impressed by her warm and direct leadership style, her curiosity and willingness to learn, her product knowledge, and her overall intelligence, I know that you are certain, too, that the future of our flagship product Mastercam and our organization is in very capable hands.”
Only 50% of family-run businesses continue operating more than five years after the transition from first to second generations. Still, when it comes to CNC, they’re celebrating an anniversary they were prepared to achieve.
“We answer to our customers rather than a board of directors,” says Mark. “And we intend to stay that way.”