Humans of METSTRADE with Karen Dudden-Blake

Kim Hollamby
Thursday, 5 April 2018

Karen Dudden-Blake 

I grew up spending my summers on the water. When I met my husband, he told me he was designing a sailboat and was planning on travelling around the world in one year. I said ‘what’s your hurry?’

We met while on holiday in the Islands. I was living in New Jersey, working in commercial photography and dabbling in real estate. Mike was living in Texas and I later moved there.

The sailboat build eventually commenced in Virginia. We intended it to be 50ft and it ended up at 65ft. Mike designed it and we built it ourselves using the newest computer technology, even for cutting the aluminium plates. The older old school gentlemen who were helping us build the yacht said there was no way we could create it using a computer, but we proved them wrong and had it finished in two years.

We started our maiden voyages sailing around Virginia, then spent seven years going to the Caribbean, Mexico and central America. We thoroughly enjoyed it, but while living aboard Mike was always coming up with some software designs. At one point, Mike flew home to share the software concepts and I was left in Belize, accompanied by a man armed with a shotgun to protect me and the boat. I eventually said ‘this is crazy, let’s move back to the States’. We migrated with the yacht to Florida, because that’s where all the customers were. We don’t have any children so that was an easy change for us.

We had wonderful experiences out on the water, but everyone says that sailing is 95 per cent joyous and five per cent terror. And you know it’s that five per cent when you don’t know what’s going on with the boat where the underlying things have a domino effect. One thing starts to go wrong and that triggers bigger issues. You don’t realise until the catastrophe happens. So, that’s why Mike came up with a monitoring system where small issues are diagnosed before they can cause bigger ones.

We partnered with a company here in the States and started marketing SiMON, our first monitoring system with them, and Palladium Technologies has been growing ever since.

Our customers have driven where we have gone as far as our product releases. We’ve expanded from monitoring systems to AV entertainment, cabin control, CCTV, cyber security, IT Networks, and now into bio security such as retina scanning, fingerprint control and things of that nature. We’ve been growing in leaps and bounds based on the newest, latest and greatest technology.

Mike is always saying he likes to be at the bleeding edge of everything, so he lives on a computer and is always looking at what are the newest things coming down the pipe. He loves going to things like the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas so he can see what is out there, what is coming and how can we utilise it for our products and customers.

We have 26 people now, it’s quite a bit different from the early days of working out of the 200ft2 of our first office to the 8000ft2 of our main offices and 4000ft2 of warehouse and production facilities at Palladium Technologies today.

There’s been another change too. We still love being on the water, but the big boat we lived on for 11 years had to become someone else’s boat in 2008 because we didn’t have the time to use her when the business was keeping us too busy. We have a little 19ft runabout instead that we take out on the ICW with our two dogs and with friends, when we get a chance. 

In the immediate future, we’re planning a company rebrand and a series of new products in the Fall, ready for METSTRADE and the other shows around that time. We’re also looking at doing more with AR and AI technology and you’ll be some of that coming out as well. As a past category winner of the DAME Awards, we’re hoping to enter some of those products because it’s always fun to get that exposure at METSTRADE – it’s such a great show.

Karen Dudden-Blake is the executive vice president of Palladium Technologies, with responsibility for marketing, HR and the many other things that she gets involved with from her broad experience as a founding officer of the company.

Palladium Technologies is based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It develops and produces high technology solutions for the superyacht sector. The company has been in business since 1991, has been attending METSTRADE from around 2004 and has been located within the Super Yacht Pavilion since 2009.

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