3 Ways CEO Jeff Meredith is Turning an Established Hardware Company into a Launch Pad

Meredith’s three points of focus are creating a culture of bold thinking, risk-taking and truth-telling, transforming the Chamberlain Group into a next-generation tech hub.

Written by Brigid Hogan
Published on Sep. 21, 2023
3 Ways CEO Jeff Meredith is Turning an Established Hardware Company into a Launch Pad
Chamberlain Group
Brand Studio Logo

In 51 million households across the United States, Chamberlain Group automatic garage door openers are part of daily life — so embedded that it can be hard to imagine life without them. And CEO Jeff Meredith believes that the next generation of Chamberlain Group’s products are well on their way to holding the same place in routines for homes and businesses worldwide.  

For much of its history since its 1954 founding, Chamberlain Group has focused on building hardware that keeps residences and businesses safe and makes access simple. Fast forward to today, however, and that focus shifts to include software innovation.

At the center of the company’s next generation of products is the myQ suite, which enables smart, simple access to homes with tools like a video keypad and automobile integration, with partners including Tesla, Volkswagen, Mitsubishi and more to come. With myQ, users can manage access to their homes in real time, seeing when kids arrive home from school, the dog walker stops by or a package is left using Amazon Key in-garage delivery.

As Chamberlain Group continues to refine and expand the possibilities for connected tools, Meredith spends his day focused on three key objectives:

1. Helping his team think boldly
2. Empowering talent across the organization
3. Aligning work and goals for rapid transformation 

Built In sat down with Meredith to learn more about these points of focus and his vision for the future of Chamberlain Group.
 

Chamberlain Group team members talking, laughing while eating lunch. 
Chamberlain Group

 

 

1. Think Boldly

“At the top of my list each day is to help our teams think in a transformative way about how we make access simpler for our customers,” Meredith said, noting that this progressive mindset is built on a legacy foundation.

“For 50 years, we’ve been a one-off hardware company,” he explained. “We sold you a garage door opener or a gate operator or a commercial operator, and when it broke in 10 to 12 years, we would sell you a new one. Our interactions with customers were limited to those sales. But as we build out software and drive more frequent engagement, we want to think about the experience beyond the purchasing process, all the way through.”

With nearly 10 million app users in 7 million homes, the possibilities are expansive as Chamberlain Group shifts away from its hardware-first approach. For what Meredith calls “old-line” industrial manufacturers, software was considered an overlay to the base hardware product, and the customer experience was reliant on the functionality of the end product.

But according to Meredith, Chamberlain Group has inverted that approach. “We start with the customer experience we want to deliver, and the hardware is considered in conjunction with the software we need to create that experience.”
 

We start with the customer experience we want to deliver, and the hardware is considered in conjunction with the software we need to create that experience.”

 

That has meant expanding a data analytics team to understand user behavior, building machine learning and AI capabilities to streamline both user experience and maintenance alerts, and partnering with Volkswagen, Tesla and Amazon to extend the myQ capabilities beyond Chamberlain Group hardware.

Collaborating with larger technology companies helped Meredith and his team confirm the power of their work and the talent of its engineers and developers.

“Being able to create collaboratively with Amazon highlighted how our capabilities matched as our developers worked hand-in-hand,” he said. “When we partner with the best, it validates that we’re on track and that we can play in the big leagues.”

 

Two Chamberlain Group team members eating lunch together.
Chamberlain Group

 

2. Empower Talent

“I also spend a lot of time focused on identifying the talent that we need to empower the business transformation,” Meredith said. “Whether that means figuring out how to advance careers, give top performers more responsibility or find opportunities for nontraditional growth.”

In order to help Chamberlain Group’s team level up, Meredith hasn’t shied away from taking risks that have the potential to transform work across the organization. When he arrived in 2018, the engineering team was 30 percent software engineers, with the rest focused on hardware. Today, that ratio has flipped and then some, with 75 percent of the engineering team working in software.

“I stay at the forefront of what talent we need to pull off what we are trying to do here,” he said. “I’ve moved finance people to be general managers and people from IT into product. Beyond looking outside the company, we need to consider who our top talent is and make sure they are being challenged.”

When he looks across the spectrum of professionals who have thrived at Chamberlain Group over the last five years, Meredith sees commonalities in both approach and how colleagues gravitate toward those exhibiting commitment and passion.

“Risk taking is at the top of the list — in bold. When people can take the logic and analytics and have the courage to pursue that project, we start doing things we’ve never done before,” he said. “People flourishing here have bold thinking and creativity, and they have built strong followership.”

 

“People flourishing here have bold thinking and creativity.”

 

Building a team that embraces a collective vision and takes action has been an integral part of Meredith’s mission since stepping into his role as CEO and bringing the company’s  mantra of “ONETEAM” to life.

“ONETEAMERS” have not only worked to reimagine the products Chamberlain Group builds but have also been at the forefront of determining fresh company values to reflect a changing culture, brought their voices to transparent all-company meetings and helped form business resource groups supporting women and people of color.

“We are breeding a culture of authenticity,” Meredith said. “Raw truth telling can be tough, but authenticity is at the core of who we want to be.”

 

CHAMBERLAIN GROUP’S DIVERSITY INITIATIVES

Truth and transparency haven’t always been simple as Chamberlain Group advances. When Meredith took over as CEO in late 2021, he began a process that led to publishing diversity statistics for the entire company and at every level, particularly in terms of gender and race along with targets for how the team needed to become more diverse. In one key example, Meredith saw that while his senior management team was half women, the director level lacked the same gender equity. As the team set hiring goals, Meredith started setting clear time to check in with women across the company to understand their experiences at Chamberlain Group.

“When we publicly say that we want to improve, we have to deliver on it. But you can’t just go out and hire people — you have to build a culture where people want to stay or they’ll leave as fast as they came in,” he said. “Diversity has to be more than just our numbers. We need to have an organization and culture that embraces differences and has room for people to grow.”
 

 

3. Align and Amplify

“Third, I spend a lot of time making sure that there’s an understanding and alignment across the organization, which is crucial when you’re transforming fast and changing rapidly,” Meredith explained, concluding his three points of focus in his role.

The unifying goal at Chamberlain Group is clear: “We want to make access simple.”

“It’s a lightning rod in the organization,” Meredith said. “When we ask the engineering or customer service team if something is truly simple, it makes for a quick gut check. If I have to climb on a ladder and press a button to install this, is it truly simple?”

 

“If I have to climb on a ladder and press a button to install this, is it truly simple?”

 

With a single central goal, clear visibility across teams and organizational alignment across objectives and key results helps everyone see how their work supports Chamberlain Group’s ONETEAM.

“When people are aligned on common objectives, they see how their work is amplified by other teams and manifests itself into a major accomplishment,” he said. “Our traditional hardware business and our software services aren’t in conflict but work in concert.”

That combination of the legacy core business and the newer startup approach offer employees a unique opportunity, as well — one that offers room for innovative technology work with the stability of the long-established business.

“We offer a compelling tech environment,” Meredith noted. “We’re using advanced analytics, predictive technology and AI, but we have a base business that is performing year in, year out, which gives us a foundation to support and fund our growth.”

For Meredith, that strong foundation is more like a launch pad as he continues to push Chamberlain Group’s vision for the future of smart home access ahead.

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Chamberlain Group.

Hiring Now
Teachable
eCommerce • Edtech
SHARE