HID vet Grillo joins XceedID board of directors

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

GOLDEN, Colo.—Roughly six months after saying his goodbyes at Assa Abloy, Joe Grillo has reemerged in the access control industry, taking a board position with XceedID, a card and reader supplier focusing on RFID solutions. Grillo certainly knows the market, having led HID, before becoming CEO of the Global Technologies Division at Assa Abloy after it bought HID in 2000.
“I have nothing but good experiences and memories from HID and Assa Abloy,” Grillo said, “but in the end I was ready to move on. Things get stale after a long time in one place.”
So Grillo spent some time looking at buyout opportunities, focusing on the RFID space outside the security-and-lock industry. But the tightening debt markets and his own pickiness kept him from making a big splash. Eventually, he met with old HID colleague John Menzel, who left HID in 2003 to start up XceedID.
“I always liked John a lot,” Grillo said. “He was a high potential guy who we just couldn’t promote fast enough. When he left the company and took two of the best engineers with him, it created a level of consternation on our part, but this is America where you can go do that sort of thing ... They’ve continued to grow an interesting company with good technology.”
Grillo said his role will be of an advisory nature—“I don’t have an operational or full-time job with a salary”—but he does have an opportunity to participate as an investor. “I just want to help a small start-up company,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working again with some guys I had worked with for a long time in the past.”
He acknowledges the company has a tough road ahead as competitor to his former company, a globally recognized industry leader. “I’m not going to make it sound easy,” he said. “HID has incredible brand strength, distribution, customer support capabilities, high quality and all that,” but XceedID will look to leverage its technology and some of Assa Abloy’s natural competitors to gain a foothold.
He noted a recent win at Fidelity as a positive sign: “It’s an indication of the opportunity on the technology side for a little company that’s entrepreneurial.”
Look for Grillo to possibly get involved with another company in the first quarter of 2008.