Goeken Proves It Can Be Done MCI Founder's Business Turns the Impossible into Profitable

By Schmitt, Anne | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), May 29, 1997 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Goeken Proves It Can Be Done MCI Founder's Business Turns the Impossible into Profitable


Schmitt, Anne, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Anne Schmitt Daily Herald Business Writer

Jack Goeken already has a title in mind for his in-progress autobiography: "They Said It Couldn't Be Done."

He's seen the incredulous stares, the "you-can't-do-that" looks. He's heard the "buts" and the "that's-never-been-dones" faced by a man who's had ideas that others dismiss as too difficult or plain crazy, like the time he wanted to start a phone company - MCI - to compete with AT&T.

But the fun part for Goeken, and now his daughter and son-in-law Sandra and Paul Goeken Martis, always has been building companies from nothing, nurturing their early growth, then selling them as established businesses.

It's also where the biggest returns are.

"If you come up with something new that nobody has, you have a pretty good market to start with," Goeken said.

Those businesses have had mixed results once they were sold.

MCI has flourished since Goeken parted with the company in 1975 and now has revenue of some $12 billion.

Goeken's In-Flight Phone, on the other hand, has struggled. The company filed for bankruptcy in January and has slashed its work force.

In-Flight tried to differentiate itself from its rivals by offering interactive entertainment and news, rather than just phone service. But it didn't sign up airline customers at its competitors' pace. The service also lost customers because of technical glitches.

"They didn't want to talk to me," Goeken said. "I felt real bad it ended up like that. In my mind, they had a potential there that was really great."

Goeken's current ventures don't have the David-and-Goliath quality of his fight to create Microwave Communications Inc., now MCI, in the early 1960s. But neither has he abandoned the general MCI strategy: build up a company around infant technology that satisfies an unmet consumer need.

The newest businesses, being developed by The Goeken Group in a Naperville office building, include a wireless communications software company, a mayday service, an emergency medical information service and a distributor of illuminated safety clothing.

Wireless Works Inc. is closest to the Goekens' telecommunications roots.

Since 1995, the company has been striking deals, cementing licensing agreements or forming joint ventures with software companies developing technology for the emerging wireless telephone industry.

"What makes us unique is we find appropriate technology and the best companies that do it," said Sandra Goeken Martis.

The Goeken Group doesn't have the overhead of a company that's developing the software itself. But it can lend credibility, contacts, financial support and marketing experience to the small software companies.

"We have a more established reputation to bring to the big guys," she said.

The theory behind Wireless Works is that once the digital cellular technologies are more established, the telecommunications companies will want to be able to do more than just offer phone basic service. The Goeken Group is integrating cellular services that large communications companies will be able to offer their individual and corporate customers.

Take, for instance, Larry Dooling's Verbex Voice Systems in Edison, N.J. The company has developed speech recognition software that, when combined with cellular technology, will allow people to call their home or office computer and direct it, by voice, to look up phone numbers, place calls or read e-mail.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Goeken Proves It Can Be Done MCI Founder's Business Turns the Impossible into Profitable
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?