Susan Pyle spent many years trying to convince her two business partners that Packings & Gaskets was falling far short of its full potential for growth. But the Chagrin Falls sealing manufacturers steady annual sales of $2.5 million made her fellow co-owners reluctant to tinker with their time-proven formula for success.
Despite the companys prosperity, Pyle believed there was an inherent danger in standing still.
You reach a level where you feel comfortable, especially when everybody is making money. You dont have to press and you have a good market share, she says. But the longer you sit at that level, the tide is taking you farther and farther out. And you dont realize it.
So in April 1993, Pyle bought out her partners and embarked on a series of moves designed to take Packing & Gaskets to the next level. She purchased $400,000 in new equipment, increased annual sales to $5 million and moved the operation to a new production facility twice the size of the old one.
Assess your limits
The main obstacle to growth was Packings & Gaskets inability to compete in the profitable large-volume market. That, Pyle decided, would require capital investments in equipment to increase production capacity.
We were really going to go after more OEM (original equipment manufacturing) business, which is what most of the large volume is, she says. Now were doing a million-and-larger piece runs. It really opened a new door.
Draft a growth strategy
Before trying to secure the financing to buy the expensive equipment she believed was the companys key to growth, Pyle put together a detailed report outlining the benefits of such a large investment.
We did a pretty comprehensive portfolio, showing the ways we could save time, produce parts we couldnt before, and industries we were going to go after, she says.
Since 1993, Pyle has bought nearly $400,000 in new equipment, but each piece was purchased and installed separately. It ensured all quirks would be ironed out and Pyle could determine the machines true benefit to the company before investing in another piece.
The first machine we got right away probably within three to four months after taking over, she says. Then we added a new piece of equipment, probably just about one every year or so.
Give yourself time to succeed.
From the beginning, Pyle planned for it to take the better part of two years to get the new large volume side of her company rolling. She was right.
It probably took us a year and half to get up and running with the machinery, she says. Also, it normally takes anywhere from four to 12 months to get into the larger OEM companies, do quoting, prototypes and actually land the orders. Its kind of a long process, but we knew that and we put that as part of our plan.
How to reach: Packings & Gaskets, (216) 543-8108
Jim Vickers (firstname.lastname@example.org) is associate editor at SBN.