How Motorola Solutions Escaped Bankruptcy

April 25, 2017, 9:38 PM UTC

Greg Brown knows what disruption looks and feels like. He saw it up close when he was tapped to be CEO of Motorola in 2008. The company, known for inventing handheld cell phones, pagers, walkie talkies, and car radios, was being disrupted by Korean and Chinese manufacturers. Motorola was on the verge of bankruptcy.

Speaking with Fortune’s Susie Gharib, Brown said “we had to do something different. The company was in trouble actually. The cell phone business was losing hundreds of millions of dollars a quarter. So the benefit I had was the need for change was crystal clear.”

In the past 10 years, Brown has completely transformed the legendary company and even gave it a new name—Motorola Solutions. He got out of the cell phone business and focused the company’s expertise in communications technology on providing police and fire departments with high-tech video, radio, and network equipment to fight and predict crime.

The changes required a different kind of leadership. As Brown puts it, “I think actions speak louder than words. So we reshaped the portfolio. We reshaped the board. I think I relentlessly and persistently communicated the need for change.”

It looks like Brown’s leadership is paying off. Orders are at record levels and the stock is also moving higher. Motorola Solutions began trading on the New York Stock Exchange in 2011 at $37 a share—the stock now commands around $84.

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