May 29, 2014

Dexter Turner and Pam Neal
Dexter Turner with PDC Sr. Business Development Coordinator Pam Neal

Q&A with Dexter Turner,
President/CEO, OpConnect

Tell us your company story.

It’s always been a dream of mine to start a company. I originally started Optimization Technologies in 2001 to develop a low-cost cockpit instrumentation product for small aircraft. We found a lot of success selling a product called OpMessaging, which allows software applications to securely and efficiently exchange data across a number of wireless networks.

After selling the cockpit instrumentation business we started exploring other business opportunities. I’ve always been involved in projects to bring efficiency to transportation and one of the things I was interested in was electric vehicles. It was obvious that an extensive network of charging stations was going to be necessary to make them practical and I saw security of the communication within this network as a key requirement to make it successful. I realized that we were very well positioned to get into the EV charging station market. We had the engineering background to design charging stations and the network to support them, and we could put our OpMessaging network security product at the core of the solution. So in 2008 we began the engineering on our product and in 2010 we formed OpConnect.

What do you love about Portland?

I have a family and the thing that drew us to Portland was the quality of the public education system and safety. I also love our summers, where this is one of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever been. Finally, I have to mention the people. Portlanders may be a little weird, but we’re nice people and as an employer I think that we have a good work ethic and the ability to respect and get along with our co-workers.

What will keep you and your business here in the future?

Access to quality employees; access to capital to grow our business; support from public agencies like PDC and quasipublic entities like Drive Oregon; a safe environment for our families; acceptable returns on investment in real estate.

How has your relationship with PDC made a difference to you and your company?

We could not have successfully launched our new charging station product, the Mark II, without support from PDC. We’ve recently hired two new employees to manufacture and support this product and those jobs, and the others that we will create in the coming months can be directly traced to our loan from PDC.

What are your hopes for the future of your business?

This is a very young industry, changing rapidly as it matures. We want to innovate faster than our competitors, seek key partnerships that will result in both partners becoming stronger. We hope these two key strategies will result in rapid, and profitable growth, and in OpConnect’s recognition as the technology leader in EV Infrastructure.

What are your hopes for the city of Portland’s future?

I hope that Portland continues to be a great place to live and work. There will be a lot of components to this, such as investment in educating the next generation of our workforce, keeping Portland a safe place, and encouraging new business investment. I hope that Portland continues to see the value in using public funds to seed new business ventures to encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs, and convince those both here and outside of Portland that this is a great place to get a business off the ground.

PDC’s mission focuses on creating a more equitable city. How does that align with your own work and goals?

We have to address income inequity, not just out of a sense of fairness, but to make sure that we can have sustainable growth and even national security. I came from a family on the lower end of the economy but I had a lot to offer and was able to create a company that provides middle-class wage jobs with benefits and the opportunity for personal growth. I’d like to help others recognize their potential the way I was able to recognize mine and I support PDC’s efforts to help entrepreneurs who may not have economic advantages from their birthright.

This business profile originally appeared in PDC’s FY 2012-13 Annual Report. Download the report >