Four decades after co-founding National Instruments, James Truchard steps down as CEO

Truchard co-founded the company in 1976; he will be replaced by chief operating officer and chief financial officer Alex Davern.

Posted August 29th, 2016

James Truchard, the longtime CEO and co-founder of National Instruments, is retiring in January, the company announced late Monday. 

He will be replaced by Alex Davern, the company's chief operating officer and chief financial officer.

Truchard, 73, has been National Instruments' CEO since the company was founded in 1976. He started the company with William Nowlin and Jeff Kodosky. The men were UT researchers who thought PCs could be used for high-end testing.

National Instruments was one of Austin's first tech companies, and helped build the city's then-burgeoning identity as a tech center. 

National Instruments makes testing and measurement software and hardware for engineers, academics and scientists. 

"It is the right time for me to retire as CEO," Truchard said in a written statement. "I have worked with Alex Davern for more than 20 years. He is an exceptional leader and business strategist, with a demonstrated track record of success."

"Over the last decade, in the face of a weak industrial economy I have focused my efforts on helping ensure that we were making the long-term strategic investments necessary to set NI up for future growth," Truchard said. He said National Instruments is "well positioned" for the coming decade.


Davern saidthat Truchard has built an "extremely capable senior leadership team over the years" and that he is "honored and excited to lead NI int o its next phase of growth and profitability."

Davern has served as chief operating officer since 2010 and chief financial officer since 1997. 

The company said its board of directors picked Davern, 49, to succeed Truchard effective January 1. 

National Instruments said it is beginning the search process for a new chief financial officer and expects to complete it by the end of the year. 

Truchard will remain chairman of National Instruments' board of directors. He is known for his low-key style, eschewing a large windowed office for a cubicle on the 8th floor of his company's Austin headquarters off MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1).

National Instruments employs 2,700 in the Austin area. The company went public in 1995 and reported $1.2 billion in revenue last year. 

In its most recent quarter, National Instruments reported disappointing earnings, with lower-than-expected revenue. The company blamed exchange rates, the ramifications of the Brexit vote and a weakened manufacturing sector for its performance. 

And in 2015, the company reported revenue and profit that was lower than it had been the year before. 

Its stock price is roughly unchanged since the start of the year, though it has declined 16 percent in the last two years. It closed on Monday at $28.24.