President Doug Kovatch knew the timing was right to lead the multimillion-dollar plant expansion for Kovatch Castings Inc. After the company secured a $1 million grant in 2010 from the State of Ohio’s American Recover and Reinvestment Act, he now had the capital to combine the company’s own $2 million to expand its Green, Ohio facilities by 16,000 square feet, add 45 new employees and invest in new equipment.
“It was a $3 million risk to do this expansion and reinvestment into the business, but at the same time, I was very confident that it was the right thing to do at the right time,” Kovatch says.
Financing aside, there were a lot of other aspects of growth to think about. Facing the logistical challenges with moving equipment, altering processes, and making sure production continued to move efficiently, he also had to keep customers satisfied and employees engaged throughout the transition. What made it all possible was the company’s culture of teamwork and enthusiasm, which has been a key part of its success so far.
“We really felt that we were able to overcome that just with really excellent communication and leadership and the support that I have for my people,” Kovatch says.
While the new facility will enable the company to go from its current $16 million in sales to more than $25 million next year, there is still much unforeseen with the current economy. By keeping a focus on collaboration, Kovatch prepares his team to meet any setbacks or challenges ahead with positivity and creativity.
“That helps them feel that they are part of what we are doing and engaged,” Kovatch says.
Including people in the decision-making process during a growth period also encourages employees to accept the new level of flexibility it takes to adapt in an ever changing business environment. It means operational and structural changes, but also handling the ups and downs that come with an ebb and flow of new business.
“Some business will be lost and that’s just sort of how that goes,” he says. “We all have to come to accept that. But it challenges us to grow in automation, to constantly be focused on cost reduction, servicing customers, shortening lead times, doing these things that maybe the low cost providers don’t do as well.”
One way the company encourages teamwork is fostering a work environment that is committed to serving others, not just its own bottom line.
“We try to be a light and set a good example to other businesses around us,” Kovatch says.
“I think that really inspires people to do their best.”
Kovatch says it’s important to remember that just because you are growing successfully as a business, you shouldn’t start thinking you don’t need the input, help or advice of others, or stop giving yours.
“We don’t want to ever get too large that we don’t forget the people who are most important,” he says.
“We understand the importance of giving back, of understanding that we as a group are much bigger and have a bigger impact on the world around us than any one person alone.”
The company gives a percentage of its quarterly profits to both local Akron organizations and others all around the world, such as Samaritan’s Purse, which runs a project that takes shoeboxes and fills them with gifts for the kids during Christmas time. This year, the company’s 195 employees aim to send out 1,000 shoeboxes with clothing, toys and school supplies.
“With our employees, we had to remain adaptable to a changing environment, which means lots of problem solving along the way and keeping people positive and focused on the goal,” Kovatch says.
“There’s real power in group dynamics and in working together as an organization to impact the world around us.”
How to reach: Kovatch Castings Inc., (330) 896-9944 or www.kovatchcastings.com
As Kovatch Castings Inc. celebrates its 35th year doing business in Akron, President Doug Kovatch continues to be an advocate for the region’s manufacturing industry.
“Akron is a great location for manufacturing,” he says. “We have a terrific labor market here. We have materials. We have a supplier base. We have a reasonable cost structure. It’s been a very good place for us to do business.”
For Kovatch, Akron is also an attractive location because its low labor costs allow the company to do finishing operations such as machining and plating much more cost effectively than somewhere on the east or west coast, where labor rates are much higher. While the company has secured a significant amount of new business this year, it’s not just from promoting its own offerings.
“What we do is utilize trade shows and marketing promotions to promote this area,” Kovatch says. “We’re growing because we are actively pursuing new business all the time.”
He also participates in the local Akron Chamber group that brings together leadership from different industries to support a dialogue on regional growth. This organization is extremely valuable he says, because of the resulting wisdom that comes from many joining together to help on another.
“Those kinds of dialogues where CEOs can come together and help and support and feed off of each other’s ideas are very positive and very beneficial,” he says. “I’ve grown and I think improved as a result of hearing others perspectives.”