Motorola Solutions is closing in on a lease for one of what may be three downtown offices where 400 of its workers will work by year’s end, company CEO Greg Brown said Wednesday.
The office in negotiations will be near train lines, and will house 100 Motorola Solutions employees. The Schaumburg-based company is the walkie-talkie and bar-code scanning portion of the old Motorola Inc.
Brown declined to specify the location, but said he likes it so much he would spend time there rather than at the company’s existing Loop office space on the eighth floor of 233 N. Michigan Ave.
Brown, who told the Executives’ Club of Chicago at a Wednesday breakfast program that he insisted his portion of Motorola Inc. keep the Motorola name alongside Motorola Mobility, announced in June that the company would move workers in systems integration and customer-focused services to the Loop. The employees will be new hires and those who work at other sites. The move is part of a series of announcements that Mayor Rahm Emanuel has made with companies with headquarters in the suburbs and elsewhere that plan to locate employees in Chicago.
“There is a lot of young talent here,” Brown said. “We will be better served.”
Brown said of Emanuel, “He is relentless, passionate and I think has done a good job as mayor.”
Brown said his fight with the cellphone, smartphone and TV set-top box division of Motorola over the well-known brand name turned into “the bloodiest fight” of the company’s split into two publicly traded companies earlier this year.
“I said, ‘No way in hell’” when asked to relinquish the Motorola name, Brown said, noting that Motorola invented the police radio and the bar-code scanner.
He realized when he first became CEO of Motorola Inc. in 2008 that the then-hot-selling Motorola RAZR cellphone masked problems in the money-losing wireless telephony business ranging from a surplus of platforms to untenable economies of scale, he said.
He lost 30 pounds in his first 30 days at the top, struggling with issues ranging from activist investor Carl Icahn’s demands, to filing a lawsuit against Blackberry maker Research in Motion, to the need to spin off the smartphone business, he said.
“It was a lonely time,” he said.
Brown took the audience by surprise when he said while walking around his house at 3:30 one morning, bemoaning his problems, his wife, Anna, told him to pull back his shoulders, get tough and be the leader that the company’s 65,000 employees expected him to be.
Anna, Brown’s high-school sweetheart in his native New Brunswick, N.J., could be a CEO herself and never plays the reticent spouse role, Greg Brown noted.
Indeed, another family discussion led Brown to start his day at 4 a.m. while his son and daughter were growing up, and he said he missed only one of his son’s 250 basketball games.
Brown advised up-and-coming entrepreneurs and business leaders to “grow a thick skin” and never let criticism cause you to become callous.
As for Illinois’ corporate environment, which Caterpillar and other company CEOs have criticized as being too expensive, Brown said the state government must resolve its pension situation, in which costs continue to spiral, and its corporate tax structure, including looking at “absolute” tax rates.
New York and New Jersey could be models of how to open the budget process to the people, he said, noting that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie held 300 town hall meetings in his efforts to overhaul that state’s budget.