MIAMI TWP. — In the world of business, Patrick Hood, founder and chief executive of Cornerstone Research Group, has “won the lottery,” as he put it in a recent interview.
Now the question is what to do with the winnings.
“I’ve been given this tremendous blessing,” Hood said in a recent interview at his company’s 8821 Washington Church Road home. “This has been a giant faith walk for me.”
Steeped in defense contracting, manufacturing and talent-nurturing, what Cornerstone Research Group (CRG) and its affiliates bring in today in annual revenue — Hood put it in the range of $65 million to $70 million — is 170 times greater than what the company earned in its first year, back in 1998.
The list of companies CRG has spun off or nurtured since the 1990s remains long: Spintech Holdings, Rushlight Ventures, Advantic, Kineticure, Lectratek, PositAssets and others.
The privately held business that started with 1,200 square feet in Beavercreek, today has nearly 200,000 square feet in a former Mead facility, with plans for two additional buildings on 63 acres, with construction possibly starting as early as this fall, Hood said.
“We are right now in the middle of planning for about (an additional) 25,000 square feet out by the lake there,” the CEO said, referring to a body of water to the north of the building CRG purchased in early 2020.
The campus off Washington Church Road will serve as a home for tenants and CRG businesses. Hood envisions a “community area,” with another building offering new production and warehouse space. There will be headquarters space and space for employees to confer.
“It’s important for the business units not to be caught up in the chaos of a big organization like CRG,” Hood said.
“He didn’t mean chaos,” Andrew Cothrel, Rushlight Ventures president, said with a smile. “He meant the relentless drumbeat of daily production.”
“He meant chaos,” CRG President Chris Hemmelgarn replied, also smiling.
These construction plans are still young. Hood hopes to work through zoning issues with Miami Twp. this summer.
CRG has an annual payroll in the neighborhood of $12 million, Hemmelgarn said. He said the company will add probably 20% to that this year, and he sees the possibility of doubling the number of employees in the next two years. Today, CRG has about 100 Dayton-area employees.
Last year, CRG notched a strategic partnership with Los Angeles-based Karman Space & Defense, a deal that gives Karman ownership of a material that can be used in hypersonic flight.
Terms of that deal were not made public. But Hood called the outcome “enough.”
“It was enough to create some free cash flow,” he said. “And we’re still in the middle of realizing some of that ... But it was enough free cash flow to start exercising other parts of my vision.”
At a healthy 62, Hood is looking well beyond the 36-year-old who started his company with $500 in the late 1990s. He has moved beyond daily operations and is talking about “legacy.” He says he wants to leave his employees, and his community, in a good place.
Asked if he’s planning a transition, Hood said: “We are in it. We are in the transition on different business elements.”
Three years ago, he brought in Cothrel to lead Rushlight Ventures, the “studio” that commercializes defense and civilian technologies, through start-ups, licensing, joint ventures, asset sales — whatever it takes.
“We are officially agnostic as to how to create value from an asset,” Cothrel said.
Hood wants to set up a board-managed system to achieve his goals, among them: Making real estate productive, continuing and stabilizing cash flow through CRG and “creating something out of nothing” — nurturing intellectual property and bringing new technologies to market when that makes sense.
“Our success is in throwing out the ideas and allowing the customer to pick them,” Hood said. “And then we focus on those and develop those.”