Clinton H. Severson
Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame
Clinton Severson’s story illustrates the American Dream, complete with childhood jobs as a paperboy and grocery clerk. In Severson’s case, those jobs sparked an interest in business that would take him on an entrepreneurial journey destined to land him as Forbes Magazine’s 2007 “Entrepreneur of the Year.”
After working his way through Minot State University, the Minot, North Dakota native graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Business in 1973. His subsequent job search took him to San Francisco and a sales position with the diagnostics division of Dow Chemical. His decision to sell blood-testing equipment for Dow was to influence his entire career.
Severson spent the next eleven years working in diagnostic sales and management for Dow and for Syva, a division of Syntex Pharmaceutical. Then in 1984 he was recruited to a small, venture-funded diagnostic company called Axonics. There he discovered his true calling: turning small, start-up businesses into profitable companies. In 1989 Severson joined another small enterprise, Mast Immunosystems, where as president and CEO he nearly tripled sales and took the business from a loss position to a net income of over 3 million.
Severson’s latest success story is Abaxis, a medical device manufacturer specializing in point-of-care blood analyzers. Under Severson’s leadership sales have grown 34% compounded annually to a rate of over 100 million per year and reached an operating profit of over 17 million.
Severson, of Norwegian descent, lives in Palo Alto, California. In his free time he manages a Sonoma County vineyard, invests in real estate, travels and hikes.