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Class Notes May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

Bill Raggio, Warren '82
Glass Works

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According to Bill Raggio, Warren '82, self-confidence is a key ingredient to financial success. Even though Raggio spent most of his time on academic probation, his talent as a physicist came out in the laboratory.

"You gotta step out of the box," says Raggio. "What is that quote? 'Dare to be different'? It's not, in our case, different as a matter of rebelliousness, but different because that just might be the way you're supposed to be."

It's a life motto that the scientist has applied to all his endeavors, including San Diego-based Rayotek Scientific Inc., named for a mesh of the words "tech" and "ray." Founded on a whim in 1992, Rayotek—which specializes in designing and manufacturing sapphire, glass, fused-silica and fused-quartz products—began when the onsite glass blower at the engineer's old job approached Raggio to tell him that he planned to strike out on his own. A year later, the glass blower was gone and Raggio learned to do the job himself, calling up friends and scientists to let them know that he now made glass.

Soon, NASA and other companies began asking Raggio how to create certain products, and Raggio discovered that he could charge more for his services.

"It took me about 12 years to figure out that I could have a viable business and not just some form of entertainment," says Raggio.

Today, Rayotek boasts three product lines, 18 employees, a 30 percent growth each fiscal year and 500 different customers across 30 countries.

"We're currently in a contractual relationship with Triton Submarines and we're in the process of building a seven-foot-diameter glass sphere that three people will be sitting in," says Raggio. "We were also contacted by NASA to be the sole supplier of the Orion space program."

And though Rayotek is continuing to rack up fans, Raggio keeps ingenuity high on his priorities list.

"I've already decided that I'm going to be quitting Rayotek one day, because it's become my paradigm," says Raggio. "I'm going to go back to school. I'm going to go back to college, and like it."

—Neda Salamat, Muir '12