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iBase-t: Widow’s Odyssey From Near Bankruptcy to Success

Ladeira Poonian took over software company iBase-t Inc. and steered it from pending disaster to profitability after the sudden death of her husband a quarter century ago.

Today, it ranks as a leading local software firm.

The transition was difficult at first for the family-owned firm.

Poonian asked one employee why he didn’t leave as things were looking bleak for the company’s future.

The employee’s answer: “I feel the obligation that I have to stay back to help you.”

That employee is still with the company.

Poonian is the majority owner and chairwoman of iBase-t, which helps companies manage complex manufacturing processes.

Lake Forest-based iBase-t was one of five honorees at the Business Journal’s Family-Owned Business Awards in the large firm category on May 30, held at the Irvine Marriott.

Poonian held the 300 guests at the event spellbound with the tale of how she was suddenly in charge of the business with little or no preparation after Amrik Poonian’s death in 1998.

Poonian and her son, Naveen, who is president and chief executive, spoke to the Business Journal the day after the award.

Naveen said iBase-t chalked up $51 million in revenue last year, with $54 million projected for this year, with a $65 million goal in 2026.

Complex Production

iBase-t’s customers include General Dynamics, Textron, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney.

“We’ve developed software that companies use to build and maintain highly complex products” including rockets and satellites, the CEO said.

The company was founded in California in 1986 by the Poonian family, who saw a need for aerospace and defense manufacturers to better manage their production and quality processes.

Solumina, iBase-t’s flagship technology, establishes a digital ecosystem to drive innovation and improve operational performance across a wide array of industries, the company said.

“We still have a lot of legacy people in the company who even worked with my father almost 30 years ago,” Naveen said. “Some, they really are family.”

The journey has been about “continuing and carrying on the legacy” of the company founded in 1986.

“We went through a lot of growing pains and scary times and near bankruptcy,” he said.

Sees Bottlenecks

Today, the company has 100 employees in OC, 50 to 60 across the U.S., 10 in Europe and 120 in India.

With offices in the U.S., UK, France and India, iBase-t customers also include space agency NASA that used Solumina to help build the James Webb Space Telescope and the Artemis moon mission.

Starting as CEO of iBase-t in 2020, Naveen has overseen the launch and continued advancement of Solumina iSeries. He has successfully led the company’s transition to a cloud-first development cycle.

Under Naveen’s leadership, the company has expanded its rapidly growing digital manufacturing solutions business across France, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The company’s computer system uses data to let bosses see where bottlenecks are and where problems are arising, while also keeping track of the supply chain.

iBase-t placed No. 18 on the Business Journal’s list of the largest Women-Owned Businesses last year, ranked by revenue.

The Poonian family is also well known for local philanthropic work, including Feed America, the Red Cross and International Sanctuary, which aims to stop trafficking of women and girls.

As for the mother-son operation, company Chairwoman Poonian says:

“When we’re at home, we’re at home as a family.”

The workplace, she emphasized, is a “different dynamic.”

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Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung joined the Orange County Business Journal in 2021 as their Marketing Creative Director. In her role she creates all visual content as it relates to the marketing needs for the sales and events teams. Her responsibilities include the creation of marketing materials for six annual corporate events, weekly print advertisements, sales flyers in correspondence to the editorial calendar, social media graphics, PowerPoint presentation decks, e-blasts, and maintains the online presence for Orange County Business Journal’s corporate events.

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