The VEXpro Story
In 1996 two long-time FIRST® Robotics Competition mentors (Tony Norman & Bob Mimlitch) founded Innovation First, Inc. (IFI) in Greenville, TX. Building originally out of a garage, Tony and Bob's company was founded on the belief that innovation is necessary very early in the design process to produce simple and elegant product designs; a principle learned from their time mentoring FIRST® Robotics Competition students. Starting with the Victor 883 Motor Controller, IFI would go on to be a leader in educational & competitive robotics products as well as high-tech consumer toys. Now headquartered on a 13 acre complex that houses an advanced metal fabrication plant, distribution center and corporate offices, IFI has over 200 employees worldwide including over 150 in Greenville, TX.
As IFI grew, so grew their support of the program which inspired its founding principles. Innovation First International would go on to support FIRST® Robotics Competition teams, events, and the program itself as a crown supplier. Most tellingly, IFI holds competition robotics experience in the highest regard, valuing employees who have spent time participating on, mentoring, or leading teams. As such the company now has employees in all aspects of their business who come from, and are still involved in the robotics community. At IFI there are literally hundreds of years of robotics experience under one roof.
In December 2012 (for the 2013 FIRST® Robotics Competition season), VEX Robotics (a subsidiary of Innovation First International) launched their "VEXpro" line, starting with over 120 distinct products. The VEXpro line was an opportunity for Tony & Bob to leverage IFI's global resources to develop new products specifically aimed at the FIRST® Robotics Competition marketplace. The VEXpro engineering team simply designed the products they would want to use. This focus on ensuring superior performance, and emphasis on high-value lead to the VEXpro mantra of: "Does More, Costs Less."
Since these items were designed together from the ground-up, it allowed the VEXpro engineers to utilize their experience designing VEX EDR to make VEXpro a "system of products." All the components are designed to "just work" together ensuring a frustration free build experience.
For the 2014 season, the VEXpro line was enhanced further with 150 additional products, and product improvements. In particular, IFI focused on partnerships with other organizations also working to support FIRST® and FRC teams.
Now in 2018, the VEXpro line has continued to expand, with new products, new partnerships, and more improvements based on customer feedback.