2014 Evolution of Manufacturing Winners

Martin Ellis CEOAir Enterprises LLC
Martin Ellis, CEO
(330) 794-9770 www.airenterprises.com 

An enterprising solution

Air Enterprises meets the challenges of climate control as demands increase 

The climate in the company data center needs to be controlled for optimum performance of computer servers. More heat is generated all the time and rack density keeps increasing over the years.

That’s just one area that Air Enterprises LLC focuses on to deliver air handling solutions.

For more than 45 years, the company has been a leader in delivering best-in-class air handling solutions to the automotive, medical facilities and high technology, pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries.

Air Enterprises recently joined forces with KyotoCooling, of the Netherlands, acquiring the exclusive license to market, sell, manufacture and commission KyotoCooling technology in North America. This allows Air Enterprises to combine the patented “green” cooling technology of KyotoCooling and the leading energy recovery wheel from Thermotech Enterprises to offer the most energy-efficient data center cooling solutions.

This patented technology is 70 to 85 percent more efficient than traditional data center conditioning solutions.

Air Enterprises, under CEO Martin Ellis, also installed a new air handling system on the Cleveland Clinic’s bone marrow transplant and leukemia floor.

This features a custom filtering system for the entire floor, which was previously handled by individual equipment in each patient’s room.

Air Enterprises’ proprietary SiteBilt process enables clients across the globe to benefit from the most sustainable and energy efficient air handling solutions in the market, without geographical limitations. They are factory manufactured and assembled on-site of aluminum components, which do not rust.


Eric Hauge, vice president, general managerArcelorMittal Cleveland
Eric Hauge, vice president, general manager
(216) 429-6000 | www.usa.arcelormittal.com

Filling the gap

How ArcelorMittal Cleveland is developing its workforce of the future

The U.S. steel industry is facing a critical workforce challenge: Thousands of skilled workers are needed over the next decade and beyond to fill vacancies created by the retiring baby boomer generation and a declining interest in manufacturing careers. ArcelorMittal Cleveland, an integrated steel manufacturer, is projecting it will lose up to 34 highly skilled maintenance technicians a year for the next five years to attrition and retirements.

To address this problem, the company, under Vice President and General Manager Eric Hauge, has partnered with the United Steelworkers Local 979 and local community colleges to develop Steelworker for the Future, a 2 ½-year program in which individuals attend classes at a participating college and gain hands-on training at ArcelorMittal while working to achieve a two-year degree and a sustainable career within the manufacturing sector.

The aim is to facilitate knowledge transfer from experienced employees to new hires, promote manufacturing career paths, overcome misperceptions about manufacturing jobs, balance the development of prospective workers’ real-world technical competencies and their job-readiness skills, and distinguish ArcelorMittal as an employer of choice.

Steelworker for the Future launched with Lakeland Community College in November 2011 and later with Cuyahoga Community College in May 2012. The company has also partnered with Max Hayes High School and other local youth-targeted organizations to introduce the opportunity to high school students.

Approximately 60 students are enrolled in the program and 17 have participated in paid internships at ArcelorMittal’s Cleveland plant. The first graduates are expected this summer.


Darice Inc. Mike Catanzarite, CEODave Catanzarite, CEODarice Inc.
Mike (Left) and Dave Catanzarite, co-CEOs
(866) 432-7423 |

Crafting a plan

How the Catanzarite brothers keep raising the bar at Darice

Mike and Dave Catanzarite have faced plenty of challenges in helping Darice Inc. stay on top of its competition. The nationwide recession forced many consumers to trim spending and that could have been bad news for Darice, which launched in 1954, becoming a leader in the wholesale craft industry.

But the diligence that Mike and Dave, the company’s co-CEOs, bring to every aspect of their work keeps the company going and keeps customers coming back.

Darice opened with one retail store and now has more than 80,000 product SKUs that are supplied to retailers of all sizes. They range from mom-and-pop stores to big-box retailers like Wal-Mart and Target to craft stores such as Jo-Ann and Michael’s. In addition to its wholesale business, Darice also successfully runs the 28-store regional craft chain Pat Catan’s.

To stay on top, Darice has expanded its China operation with 5,000 square feet of work space as well as 21 employees dedicated to merchandising, sourcing and factory compliance, finance, creative design, direct import operation and quality control/product compliance.

Sourcing is another key component in the success of Darice. Each new supplier goes through a qualifying process to ensure that it can provide the quality that the company and its customers have come to expect. Once on board, suppliers are also subject to a scorecard review that includes inspection and testing failures, delivery and capacity.

The scores are then used to determine whether a supplier is worthy of more business.


Grant Cleveland, founder and CEODuneCraft Inc.
Grant Cleveland, founder and CEO
(800) 306-4168 | www.dunecraft.com 

Game on 

How DuneCraft gets customers what they want and goes to great lengths to do so 

Grant Cleveland isn’t just trying to sell his customers a product at DuneCraft Inc. The company’s founder and CEO wants to sell them the right product, and he’s willing to go to great lengths to make sure that happens.

“Cleveland and the DuneCraft crew will actually make a product suggestion list, in advance of a meeting, to help focus the customer on key items that are correct for their consumer,” says Jay Jacobson, a sales consultant for University Games/Playroom Entertainment. “This helps the buyers make decisions faster and shows the keen interest that DuneCraft has in making sure that the customer is well-taken-care-of.” 

DuneCraft has become the leader in themed terrariums and a contender in sprouting kits and science novelties. The company is in thousands of mass, online and catalog retailers, and Cleveland is proud that all of its items and subcomponents are made in the United States. 

DuneCraft has developed a proprietary software system, called Steel Stage, that integrates all levels of its manufacturing into an automated system that organizes, stores, tracks and displays information. Steel Stage is divided into 14 different modules and allows managers to see progress and reports in real time, as well as track inventory and quality control and many other aspects of manufacturing. 

The company also uses a ticketing system to ensure that team members complete what is expected of them to allow everyone to move ahead to the next level of productivity. The result is a decrease in cost and a much higher level of productivity.


Roger Sustar, presidentFredon Corp.
Roger Sustar, president
(440) 951-5200 | www.fredon.com

Lighting a spark 

How Fredon Corp. gets high school students excited about manufacturing

Two Northeast Ohio teachers are grateful for the strong commitment that Roger Sustar and Fredon Corp. have continually demonstrated for getting young people excited about manufacturing.

It began in 1992 with the Cannons of Fredon, an innovative apprenticeship and training program for local high school and vocational school students. The program teaches students about modern machining and metalworking and about the viability of a career in manufacturing. 

The learning continues to this day with the RoboBot competition that Fredon launched in the fall of 2010. RoboBot teams are formed and compete against each other in sanctioned local competitions. They each have the chance to move on to compete against schools from across the United States.

 “Fredon has also worked with each team to provide manufacturing support and capacity with their industry partners,” says Yvonne Schiffer, a career and technical education teacher at Cleveland Heights High School. “I have students who used the opportunity to gain employment opportunities on their way to college and some on their way to employment. They have provided each team with manufacturing mentors who have changed the way our students view manufacturing and engineering.” 

Cleveland Heights High has participated in this competition for three years and has been recognized for sportsmanship, design documentation and design presentation. Beaumont School has taken part with an all-female team and won the Ohio competition last year. Both Schiffer and fellow teacher Gretchen Santo from Beaumont cite numerous examples of the difference that Sustar and Fredon are making in Northeast Ohio in preparing students for success.


Dmitry Shashkov, CEO of the fabricated products business unitH.C. Starck
Dmitry Shashkov, CEO of the fabricated products business unit
(216) 692-3990 | www.hcstarck.com


Green efforts

H.C. Starck embraces sustainability at its Ohio fabricated products facility 

German-based H.C. Starck’s Euclid facility, the company’s fabricated products business unit, continues its development as a leading manufacturer of specialty metal products for the aerospace, nuclear, military and medical industries. One of 12 manufacturing facilities in the global company, the Northeast Ohio facility is led by Dmitry Shashkov, CEO of the fabricated products business unit. 

The year 2013 began with a yearlong contraction project. As the company streamlined physical operations, the Ohio facility still had to maintain past improvements in production efficiency, product quality and on-time delivery. 

At the same time, H.C. Starck expanded its green efforts through an aggressive sustainability program. The business unit’s goal was to have a net reduction in energy usage of 2 percent, and by the end of October 2013, energy per kilogram of material produced dropped 5 percent, well below the targeted goal. 

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency recently commended the company for recycling 100 percent of its former hazardous wastes.

The effort is ongoing. H.C. Starck is working to develop a comprehensive waste-recycling program that will take 98 percent of all wastes generated. In addition, chemical monitors on wastewater are providing a $30,000 per year cost savings in reduced chemical usage. 

The sustainability efforts also focus on employee health, and the types of products manufactured and their end-of-life use. 

With tight margins, the company continues to improve management, manufacturing efficiency and quality, while maintaining steady employment. In 2013, H.C. Starck implemented the Total Production Maintenance program to increase production while increasing employee morale and job satisfaction. ●


Eric Lofquist, co-owner, president and CEOMagnus International Group Inc.
Eric Lofquist, co-owner, president and CEO
(216) 592-8355 | www.magnusig.com

Growth from sustainability

Magnus International Group turned renewable materials into a sustainable business

In 2007, on an idle 25-acre plant in Painesville Township, Eric Lofquist and Scott Forster started Magnus International Group Inc., a private holding company that soon established three companies in quick succession after converting the plant into a sustainable products manufacturing facility. The companies produced industrial and consumer waxes, alternative liquid fuels, could recover oil and water emulsions, and could make carbon energy for blast furnaces.

The holding company transitioned out of the petroleum industry and shifted its focus to transforming reusable food industry co-products into renewable materials.

To this end, Magnus constructed a one-of-a-kind prill tower facility that produces, packages and distributes custom animal feed products for the cattle, swine and equine industries, and processes food industry fats, oils and greases that would otherwise end up in landfills.

Its success led to the construction of a second prill tower that was built in 2013 to manufacture exclusive varieties of solid animal feed ingredients.

Sustainability is also important for company operations. For example, its Hardy Animal Nutrition business saves on natural resources by utilizing lake water and running on methane gas recovered from the Lake County landfill.

The company says its manufacturing technology is unprecedented, and it has developed products and processes that are an industry first. The once idle plant now employs 50 people, and the administrative offices employ another eight. Magnus reports revenue growth of 2,700 percent between 2007 and 2011 and it serves clients such as Cargill Inc., Perdue Farms and Land O’Lakes Inc. They also do smaller-scale projects that address individual customer requirements.


Barry Cik, ownerNaturepedic
Barry Cik, owner
(800) 917-3342 | www.naturepedic.com

Building a better bed

The Cik family is turning Naturepedic into a household name 

Ten years ago, Barry Cik, owner of Naturepedic, didn’t want to put his first-born grandchild on any available crib mattress. His mission to create a better crib mattress that incorporated improvements in structural, chemical, allergenic and fire safety, as well as comfort for the baby, led to the creation of a multimillion-dollar company. 

Barry and his sons Jeffrey and Jason built Naturepedic from their garage into a 50,000-square-foot production facility. They also helped change governmental regulations and established GREENGUARD third party certifications for mattresses. 

From a single crib mattress, Naturepedic’s line grew to include 11 models of crib mattresses along with infant pads and accessories, such as sheets and changing pads. The company soon expanded into making certified organic cotton mattresses for older children, and in 2012, developed an adult line. 

As the company continues to expand its lines of mattresses, it has added employees, bought more equipment and completely revamped its production line to handle increasing demands. The company has added a 9,000-square-foot warehouse, opened another warehouse for product distribution in California and is in the process of opening a West Coast showroom in Los Angeles. 

Naturepedic has grown from zero to more than $10 million in annual sales within a decade, and its products are being sold at more than 600 stores nationally and internationally. The company also donates infant pads to more than 100 hospital neonatal units and gives products to the community, organizational and educational groups.


Doug Hartley, President and CEOPortage Precision Polymers Inc.
Doug Hartley, President and CEO
(330) 296-6327 | www.pppmixing.com

A recipe for success 

Portage Precision Polymers mixes up record sales growth by adhering to core values 

Founders Doug and Rick Hartley started Portage Precision Polymers Inc. in Ravenna in 2002 with just six employees, producing and selling 1 million pounds of rubber compounds in a single month.

 The company, which develops and produces custom mix elastomer compounds for manufacturing and fabricating businesses, has continued to evolve and grow under the leadership of President and CEO Doug Hartley. The company now has 70 employees. 

Custom elastomer compounding is a highly technical, complex industry, but Portage Precision Polymers has found a recipe for success by adhering to its core values — safety, quality, integrity and customer satisfaction.

 The Ravenna facility’s 179,000-square-foot rubber and elastomeric compound manufacturing operation can mix 60 million pounds annually. It also has a full-service research laboratory and testing department with an on-site team of development chemists. 

In 2013, Portage Precision Polymers celebrated the opening of its new silicone custom-mixing facility in Mogadore. Silicone is a rapidly growing niche market, as customers use it for its sustainable and economic benefits. The state-of-the-art 17,680-square-foot facility has 20 million pounds of annual mixing capacity with a full-service research laboratory. 

The company is the only compound mixer able to blend both organic and silicone compounds. 

In fact, many of Portage Precision Polymers’ customers use the company’s sustainable materials to obtain their desired Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification. ●


Matt Hlavin, CEORapid Prototype and Manufacturing LLC (rp+m)
Matt Hlavin, CEO
(440) 930-2015 | www.rpplusm.com

Paving the way

Rapid Prototype and Manufacturing LLC is at the forefront of 3-D printing

Within the past five years, 3-D printing has become in high demand as a technology that can save time and money. As a result, Rapid Prototype and Manufacturing LLC was founded with CEO Matt Hlavin at the helm.

In traditional manufacturing, a company must purchase tooling that costs thousands of dollars and takes weeks to build prior to sampling a part. If anything was wrong with the tooling, it would need to be shipped out and repaired; again, costing more money and time.

But with rp+m’s technology, customers can create prototypes within hours rather than weeks. Ultimately, this allows manufacturers’ product development time to drop dramatically and permits more time for making additional products.

In addition, rp+m gives customers the ability to 3-D print end-use parts, rather than just prototypes. This is having an impact in the aerospace, industrial, medical, automotive and consumer products industries.

rp+m also has received several grants to help develop new 3-D printing materials for various markets.

It expanded into metals in 2013 and is the first 3-D printing company to be printing tungsten. rp+m is able to additively manufacture (3-D print) metal parts with complex shapes within hours.

Due to high machine usage, rp+m recently purchased two additional 3-D printers to keep up with demand, and the facility runs 24/7. The employment growth rate is more than 600 percent, and the company expects to add even more jobs in 2014. 

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