Changing without fear

After more than 30 years of doing business much the same way at RBB Systems Inc., Bruce Hendrick, the company’s president and CEO, decided it was time for a change. And this wasn’t going to be a minor tweak or just a fresh coat of paint. It would be a transformational process that would touch every aspect of the business.

Unfortunately, the full-service provider model that had worked so well for so many years was beginning to show its age. Even though most of the business fell within a set of core parameters, the company was now servicing all electrical and electronic design and assembly services.

There was a market for assembling small batches of high-quality customer electronics that RBB just had to jump into. The company was completely retooled to profitably and responsibly deliver these small-batch assignments that other companies won’t touch due to the unpredictable nature of this niche.

To accomplish this, RBB consolidated its operations into a single facility in Wooster. It eliminated all of its capabilities that were not related to the company’s core offering of small-batch assembly and test services. RBB implemented lean techniques and creatively worked with customers to jointly lower assembly costs.

Sales and quoting processes were redesigned to remove waste and improve competitiveness, communications and customer service.

The company also completely rebranded itself, from the Web site through literature and other materials.

Doing all of this has improved productivity by 22 percent, reduced lead times by more than 50 percent and reduced average quoting time from five to six weeks to four to five days.

Work-in-process inventory has been cut by more than 70 percent and operating income has increased by more than 40 percent.

The company was hit hard by the recession, resulting in some job reductions, but the payroll is beginning to grow once again, and the future looks bright.

In the first nine months of 2009, the company built more than 150 new assemblies, a figure that Hendrick is confident will continue to grow.

He is also confident that RBB is emerging from the economic challenges with a larger and more diverse customer base and a stronger brand message from which to continue to drive revenue growth.

How to reach: RBB Systems Inc., (330) 567-2906 or