Manufacturer expands operations globally
Tim Shuttleworth, president and CEO of Eriez Mfg. Co., talks about the opportunities and barriers to the company's growth.
Erie, Pa.-based Eriez Mfg. Co. is a global manufacturer of magnetic, vibration, and inspection solutions for manufacturers. It has embarked on a global expansion of its manufacturing operations, including a new facility in Erie, and plans for others in Canada, China, and India. Tim Shuttleworth, Eriez president and CEO, talked about the opportunities and barriers to that growth.
PE: What specifically is driving Eriez’s growth in 2012? What do you see as positive about this market right now?
Shuttleworth: The company’s broad product offerings for many diverse industries contribute to Eriez’s unprecedented sales growth. When one market is soft, we have the ability to focus on another market that is thriving. For example, right now sales of our recycling industry equipment are strong and steady, due in part to the considerable investment we’ve made in the past several years to new product development, personnel, our sales organization, and aggressive marketing efforts.
Innovation has been a part of Eriez from the very beginning. We’re not innovating just to call a product new; we’re delivering serious improvements that will add to customers’ bottom lines. Like our customers, we’re investing to stay ahead of the curve. You should also know that there is more concern for product and personnel safety, productivity, and ROI than we’ve ever experienced before in the industries we serve. Our products match customers’ needs.
PE: You’re growing not only in the U.S., but also in Canada, India, and China. What are the opportunities for growth on a global basis for a U.S. manufacturer?
Shuttleworth: Customers are assured of consistent product quality and fast response from whichever plant is closest to them. Eriez sales engineers and service teams throughout the world reflect the same customer-oriented philosophy. There are many international growth opportunities for the industries Eriez serves.
PE: What are the barriers to growth?
Shuttleworth: The barriers to international growth come from a more crowded playing field. To take the example of the recycling industry, Eriez has 20% to 25% of the U.S. scrap/recycling market. Our international market share is less. Europe, for example, is more competitive than the U.S. as far as the number of companies making magnetic and eddy current separators—there are double or triple as many companies making those products. To stay competitive, we must be constantly aware of what other companies are doing to ensure we beat or meet them in terms of price and performance.
PE: How are you recruiting, training, and retaining your skilled workers? What are the challenges in this process, and what can you do to make it easier?
Shuttleworth: Finding the right person to fill any open position in manufacturing has never been an easy task, especially considering our specific needs and high expectations. It’s a challenge to keep production moving while trying to find, and train, qualified individuals. We seek out only the best (people) and then offer further training to familiarize them with Eriez’s processes and standards.
To retain our employees, we offer fair wages, excellent benefits, and many employee education, wellness, and incentive programs. We are fortunate to have very low turnover. We work closely with the local high schools, trade schools, and colleges to pinpoint the talent we need. However, we are not afraid to look outside our state for special skills if we cannot find them in Pennsylvania.