The company’s CEO is Mark Stephens, whose path to the head of the company was unusual, to say the least. He met the three NMC co-founders when he was a 65-year-old taking classes in the drone program at the school, and they were the student instructors teaching his classes.
In 1980, he founded a plastic injection-molding company in Ironwood in the Upper Peninsula called Ironwood Plastics Inc. By 2010, when he sold it, it had 300 employees in Michigan and Wisconsin. He remained with the company for more than three years, then moved to Traverse City.
He didn’t move to Traverse City to retire. He knew he would be active in business, he just wasn’t sure how.
“I didn’t know a single person, so I started networking,” he said. “Four people told me someone needed to start a drone company because there was a great drone program at the college, but that kids go through the program then leave.”