It started as a business in the basement of Donna Johnson’s house, but in 22 years, Pinnacle Technology, Inc. has grown into an award-winning high technology company with an international reach.
Johnson, who is president and CEO of Pinnacle, was an energy expert and oceanographer who had worked for the U.S. House of Representatives and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory before coming to Kansas City. By 1995, Johnson decided to strike out on her own and chose Lawrence for its proximity to metropolitan areas, the presence of the University of Kansas and, its great quality of life. One year later, her brother, David, who holds a doctorate in electrical engineering, joined the business as a co-owner and chief technology officer.
The company creates products that researchers use to better understand the brain, how it works and is affected by different diseases or drugs. The Pinnacle team includes biologists, chemists, electrical engineers and software developers as well as those that have backgrounds in manufacturing, marketing, IT and administration.
“Many of them joined us right out of college or the military, and it is because of our employees that we have gained an international reputation for quality products and customer service,” says Johnson.
Pinnacle Tech sells its research, instrument and software products to research and government laboratories, universities and pharmaceutical companies. Approximately 40 percent of the company’s overall sales are international, going out to 38 countries.
Johnson credits Kansas agencies for helping her firm get off the ground. She says that KU’s Small Development Center helped in the early stages of the company and that the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation (KTEC) kicked in with loans that enabled the company to do initial research. That funding then allowed Pinnacle to compete for federal grants to develop commercially viable products. Next, the Kansas Bioscience Authority (KBA) matched federal grants used for marketing products, a move that exponentially increased sales.
“We have a successful business because of the help the state gave us at crucial points in our development,” Johnson says.
It is because of our employees that we have gained an international reputation for quality products and customer service.
Award Winning Advances
Pinnacle Technology, Inc., has won these awards for its work that focuses primarily on designing, manufacturing and selling tools for researchers to study the brain.
- Tibbett’s Award (a national award from the Small Business Administration for technology companies)
- Success Against All Odds Award (from the Association of Caring Entrepreneurs in Kansas City)
- 150 Kansas Scientists List (by Ad Astra Kansas, an affiliate of the Kansas Space Grant Consortium)
- Excellence in Commerce Award for Technology (from Lawrence Chamber of Commerce)