Remember the guy from your high school days- the guy who was always savvy with technology and equipped with a passion for computers, even at the time when computers were cumbersome and incredibly basic, to say the least. Try to remember a kid who aced science and math as if he wrote the textbooks; picture him as a ham radio operator who loved to talk to people around the world.

That is Jim Sieminski, now chief executive officer of Rain Master, in Simi Valley, California. He adored electronics and computers. At a time when technology was beginning to inch toward the starting line, Sieminski was among the minority who knew it would prove to be a Formula One race car, not a compact sedan. He was among those who would turn out to be right.

His wireless career stated at 16, when he earned his General and Advanced Class amateur radio license as well as commercial radiotelephone licenses. He built his own radio equipment; transmitters, receivers, and antennas. These early escapades in the wireless realm of technology would come to be the groundwork behind the cutting edge technology implemented by Rain Master Irrigation.

At the time, however, as much as he loved technology, his first career path decision occurred while in college when he was forced to make a choice: become an electronics engineer, or as he put it, a computer ?geek.? Unfortunately, as much as he had a passionate interest for both, he had to make a choice between the two.

?I couldn?t decide,? Sieminski said. ?I loved both of them, but I wasn?t sure what I wanted to do. But when it came down to it, I saw too many computer geeks and decided I didn?t want to be one of them. I chose electronics.?

Originally from Worcester Massachusetts, Sieminski earned his Bachelor of Science of Electrical Engineering from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He migrated westward and eventually went to work for a company called Litton Guidance and Control-an aerospace company. He got on board in 1978 and Sieminski was happier than a clam at high tide, or in this case, an engineer submerged in all the electronics he could handle.

?Over at Litton, I worked on cruise missiles, guidance and control systems, and navigational systems,? Sieminski said. ?I would never have guessed I would become involved in landscape irrigation.?

But that was until he met Jonathan Duxbury, a man who he worked with at Litton Guidance and Control. Duxbury worked part time for an irrigation distributor while attending college. He realized that controllers were going through a change, from mechanical to solid state. Here was an opportunity to design and build a better controller. A better mousetrap was in the making and Duxbury created a company called Rain Master

?When Duxbury started the company, he came up to me and said that one day, I would work for him,? said Sieminski. ?At the time I was like, uh, thanks, but no thanks. Here I was in a stable company designing advanced defense related products in an environment with approximately 1,000 engineers. And there was Duxbury with a total of two or three people in his company. There was absolutely zero technical incentive to leave.?

Duxbury did seek Sieminski?s help in engineering new products. Sieminski was willing to give a helping hand, albeit a part time one, he wasn?t ready to quit Litton just yet. The more engineering work he did, the more he was getting hooked. ?By day I was heavily involved in the aerospace environment, while at night I was performing firmware development for new controller technology.?

Duxbury saw the need for central controls and realized that it was paramount for his company?s success. He approached Sieminski and offered him the technical challenge that would stretch the limits of his capabilities. Sieminski was chomping at the bit.

?Duxbury was able to get me to his company because he had something very significant he needed designed, and it crossed over three different disciplines. It involved radio communication, software development, and hardware development. The hardware was new to me, and I thought, wow, what a challenge. In 1987, I accepted the position as vice president of engineering.?

After Duxbury died suddenly, the company went through various personnel changes. All the while, Sieminski was working in engineering developing and enhancing an entire new product line. By this time there was a team of engineering personnel on staff.

In 1989, they launched a new central control system that offered a graphical users interface, and an open architecture. It also allowed the user to modify schedules on a PC and automatically distribute those changes to field controllers vial radio, phone, or hardwire communications. This was cutting edge technology.

Sieminski was offered the position of president in 1997. Today he provides the vision and direction for the company yet still maintains an active role in new product development, the love of his life.

With his wife Lisa, they reside in Simi Valley. They have three sons; Michael 25, David 23, and John 20. Both he and his wife are serious bowlers, both have 200 averages, and both have had the distinction of bowling sanctioned 300 games.

Next time you?re at a sushi bar look for Jim, he hangs there quite regularly.

august 2004