From humble beginnings
In its 29 years of business, Talan Products, led by CEO Steve Peplin and President Pete Accorti, has seen the expansion of overseas manufacturing change the industry, and it’s had to adapt.
Talan has employed automation, expanded its presence and focused on metrics to drive continuous improvement.
At its inception, the company’s batten strip production line was run by three people on out-of-date machinery utilizing an inefficient process that produced several hundred pieces an hour. Today, investments in automation mean one person, working on a modern, efficient machine, can produce 800 pieces an hour in a tightly controlled process that ensures uniform product quality.
The company has branched into new markets that include automotive, military and renewable energy. Attention to these high-growth markets, coupled with Talan’s focus on efficient manufacturing process management, helps safeguard the company against the ups and downs of the marketplace.
Talan has become a highly metric-driven company, measuring everything against the operational benchmarks it’s set to emphasize efficiency and results. The company is in the 90th percentile in both value-add per employee and sales per employee, the latter of which is more than double the industry average.
An emphasis on metrics has played a major role in feeding what it considers its most important statistics: revenue and employee retention. The company started with three owners, no employees and $2,100 in initial capitalization. It now boasts a workforce of 60 employees, all pulling in the same direction for a company that has grown its annual revenue into the millions of dollars.
Small but growing
Ventrac by Venture Products Inc.
president and COO
Over a five-year period, Ventrac by Venture Products Inc., manufacturer of compact utility tractors, has averaged 31 percent in annual sales revenue growth. CEO Dallas Steiner and President and COO Randy Kitzmiller attribute this impressive growth of the small but growing company to three key areas:
Flexible manufacturing processes. The company uses flexible, efficient, “grow-able” and repeatable processes. This puts Venture Products in a position to handle just about any customer demand.
Quick prototyping processes permit engineers to create new designs and have them prototyped within days, if not hours. 3-D CAD models can quickly be transformed into machine code for laser cutting complex shapes.
In the last five years, there has been a transition from a shop with paper blueprints to an electronically controlled database driving the workload. A combination of software packages and in-house software development has increased efficiency by automating processes.
Diverse marketing and distribution strategies. In order to diversify its market, Venture Products has launched four-season products, expanding its winter products such as four-wheel drive tractors with an array of cabs, snow blowers, snowplows, power brooms and salt spreaders. This permits the organization to capitalize in several ways on the resulting stability.
Good quality employees. Attracting and retaining quality people is a priority.
“We strive to create an atmosphere where people feel respected, valued and are treated fairly,” Steiner says. “What does that have to do with growth and success? When people feel valued, they stay engaged. When they feel valued, they feel less stressed, they work smarter, work harder, take more pride in their work and take ownership of what they’ve been entrusted with.”