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February 18, 2021

Founder and chairman of Cognex to step down

A grey building with yellow trim around the top and "COGNEX" lettered on the side Photo | Grant Welker Cognex's Natick headquarters

Natick machine vision systems and bar code reader manufacturer Cognex Corp. has announced that the company’s founder, Robert Shillman, will resign from the company’s board of directors and as an executive officer of Cognex. 

Courtesy | Cognex
Cognex Founder Robert Shillman

The resignation will go into effect on May 5. Shillman, who is now 74, has served as chairman of the board since he founded the company in 1981. Shillman was CEO of Cognex from 1981 through March 2011.

Cognex had 537 employees, as of March, along with $726 million in annual revenue. Ranked by employees, it is the 16th largest manufacturer in Central Massachusetts, according to WBJ Research.

According to a release from Cognex, Shillman will retain his current title of chief culture officer until June 1, after which he will remain a Cognex employee as an adviser to company CEO Robert Willett and to the board of directors. 

“Doctor Bob’s contributions to Cognex’s ongoing success over these past 40 years are truly remarkable,” said Willett in the release. “Doctor Bob’s brilliance and enthusiasm shaped the unique ‘Work Hard, Play Hard, Move Fast’ culture at Cognex, and we intend to carry on his vision for what an exceptional company should be well into the future.”

Anthony Sun, Cognex’s lead independent director, will succeed Shillman as chairman of the board.

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