What does it take for a small, family-owned business with older, yet functioning equipment to compete in today's market?
In an article in Industry Week magazine this question was tackled in its article Small and Mid-sized Manufacturers: Flexible and Focused.
Quality Float Works Inc., a 93-year-old family business in Schaumberg, Ill. The company builds ball-like metal floats used to control liquid flow in applications ranging from water desalinization to gas tanks.
In describing the company IW said "The behemoth 1950s-era hydraulic press and the grease-infused air that permeates inside Quality Float Works Inc.'s cramped machine shop hearken back to a different age of U.S. manufacturing. It was a time when craftsmanship and innovation were demanded as much as price and volume. At the company's only facility ... you won't see cutting-edge robotic equipment or high-tech computerized machines going to work. Also absent are colored bins, kanban cards, and other tell-tale signs of the lean manufacturing initiatives championed by 'modern manufacturing' gurus."
To remain profitable (and alive) in a global economy, Quality Float Works had to create new niche offerings and embrace free trade, according to owner, president, and lead engineer Sandra Westlund-Deenihan. Implementing this plan involved Westlund-Deenihan's son, Jason Speer, who serves as company vice president and general manager, visiting more than 80 countries over the past two years to drive new product and market development.
The article presented an example of how this initiative benefited the company. During his visits, Speer found that water purity was a concern in developing countries, so the company began producing water storage products and desalinization floats with priming valves to help create fresh water.
Marketing the valves and the metal rods that connect them to the floats was a major step forward for the company. "We created a niche market that increased our international sales," Westtlund-Deenihan said. The global expansion has helped boost the company's revenues 105 percent since 2003.
As the IW article subtitle states, "By targeting niche products and staying nimble, small and mid-sized manufacturers prove they can play with the big boys."
How is your company holding up against the big boys? Has it done anything other than business as usual to compete?
Larson note: There is way to succeed. All you need to do is get out of your box and see what is out there. The US can compete world wide with what we have. Look, See Think!
Now as you know I personally don’t believe in “Free Trade” as it is presented to us because with most countries free trade is not free. And as most of you know I believe the USA should pull OUT of the World Trade Organization (WTO) not because I don’t support world wide trading and trading partners but because the WTO does not support open free markets going both directions. Yet the USA is able to find ways to compete in a tilted world.
Larson & Associates
Telesales & Target Marketing Professionals for new account acquisition
Making good businesses great and great businesses even better