Tuesday, 31 January 2012 19:01

Reaching full stride

Eric Lofquist, Scott Forster and the rest of the employees at Magnus International Group Inc. are no strangers to innovation and evolving the manufacturing field. Lofquist, co-owner, president and CEO, and Forster, co-owner, vice president and COO have led the sustainable global products manufacturer to two previous Smart Business Evolution of Manufacturing awards and an Innovation award over the years.

Founded in 2007, Magnus International is uniquely engaged in

businesses that transform vegetable oils, oil and water emulsions, and renewable energies into all-natural, sustainable global products. The company has developed groundbreaking systems for salvaging materials that otherwise get cast aside. The company’s nonpetroleum feedstock is used to manufacture one-of-a-kind green products such as animal feeds, industrial and consumer waxes, renewable liquid fuels and freeze conditioning agents. Magnus’ energy- and cost-saving initiatives are setting new standards for environmental sustainability.

Annual sales for the company are soaring 20 percent higher than projected and more than 60 percent over last year’s $28 million in sales. Magnus even hired 10 new employees to it’s already 61 during the past three months. The increased activity is due to Magnus’ Hardy Animal Nutrition (HAN), which processes vegetable-derived products used in specially formulated feed for the dairy, cattle, poultry, swine and equine industries. HAN undertook a massive four-year, $3 million effort to become a full-service, in-house producer and distributor of custom-made, all-natural animal feed.

Due to these advancements, HAN no longer needs to have another company prill, bag and transport the feed to its final destination. HAN is able to do it all and do it from a single site, which saves costly and time-consuming steps in the production process. These changes have helped transform Magnus into the U.S.’s first fully self-contained all-natural custom animal feed producer, quality controller and distributor. Magnus’ commitment to corporate, social, and environmental responsibility has helped give the company its best year yet and keeps it looking to do more in the near future.

HOW TO REACH: Magnus International Group Inc., (216) 592-8355 or www.magnusig.com

Published in Akron/Canton
Tuesday, 31 January 2012 19:01

Bright Ideas

Mentor-based Eye Lighting International of North America Inc. attributes its successful adoption of lean manufacturing principles to its relationship with its parent company, Iwasaki Electric Co. Ltd. of Tokyo, Japan.

Led by President and COO Tom Salpietra, Eye Lighting makes high-performance lamps, luminaires and lighting products for the commercial, retail, industrial, utility and specialty lighting markets in North and South America. The company says it subscribes to four guiding principles that provide the framework for its overall strategic direction: a “customer-centric” approach to doing business, an ongoing effort to continuously improve all of its processes, a focus on financial metrics to sustain company growth, and an emphasis on constant enhancement and development of all of its employees’ skill sets.

Eye Lighting holds cross-functional production quality process improvement meetings every two weeks, and two years ago, an external lean manufacturing specialist trained all employees in lean manufacturing principles. In addition, every employee in the factory was cross-trained on every manufacturing job within the plant. Today, employees rotate between various jobs and departments on a daily basis, an approach that the company says helps everyone appreciate how all the various roles interrelate. The constant rotation of duties also fosters an atmosphere of accountability throughout the organization, according to the company.

Eye Lighting’s improved overall efficiency has enabled it to begin expanding its focus into new technologies and product development. The company is developing new products for the horticulture industry and for solar-simulation clean energy, among other new offerings under development.

The company is using the cost savings from improved manufacturing processes to fund new research, development and technology objectives, and Eye Lighting officials say they regard lean manufacturing as the engine that enables it to sustain its success.

HOW TO REACH: Eye Lighting International of North America Inc., (440) 350-7000 or www.eyelighting.com

Published in Akron/Canton
Tuesday, 31 January 2012 19:01

Heavy metal

Before 2009, ACS Industries Inc. had sold few hot slag buckets used in the production of steel to carry away the slag byproduct, in part because the company had no steel mill customers.

At the end of 2011, that situation had changed significantly ­? ACS was servicing 62 steel mills on an exclusive basis and had produced more than 360 new hot slag buckets.

How it happened boils down to the addition of new and lean manufacturing techniques.

ACS, under President and CEO Joseph Zeno, got the ball rolling in 2008 with the purchase of new semi-automatic and robotic welding technology. That same year, two of the company’s product lines were redesigned to optimize the returns from the new manufacturing technologies and provide better value for customers.

Even though the launch of the new technologies occurred during one of the worst economic times, the results were immediate, sustainable and exceeded company expectations.

During this time, ACS also concluded that there was compelling logic to redesign and remarket an existing product line so the company could better serve customers with older or legacy equipment. The acceptance of the redesigned legacy attachment line has been excellent, and sales have increased every month since the product was introduced. Some other key factors in regard to this product is that it is value-priced and ready for immediate delivery, which are important advantages in today’s competitive market.

A spring expansion of the company’s factory in Kent is planned in order to house new equipment including more robotic welders and lean manufacturing techniques so that another product line may be produced.

Company leadership also plays a large part in ACS’s success. The leadership has a unique understanding of manufacturing dynamics and is committed to the practice of value-based leadership, building a successful team of quality employees and maintaining a positive culture in which the people work and achieve.

How to reach: ACS Industries Inc., (800) 321-2348 or www.acs-coupler.com

Published in Akron/Canton

Effective growth is the product of a number of factors set in motion at the same time. You need a vision for where you want to take your company, a strategy for how to get there, marketing to drum up new business and an ability to turn setbacks into something positive in the long term. While there is no one right way to grow, and while the circumstances that affect the growth of your business might not affect another business in another industry, there are some common concepts to keep in mind as you grow your business. Below, some of the leaders who recently appeared in the pages of Smart Business Orange County share some of their thoughts on how to grow a business.

“You can’t focus on 20 different things. You have to focus on a small number of things and work hard on branding that name. When we go to a dinner or to a Rotary Club meeting, we take a bunch of inexpensive hats with us, and every kid there gets a hat. A lot of people think if you give away hats, they won’t buy them in the store. We don’t care right now. We want to see every kid in Orange County, in the whole Los Angeles area, wearing an Angels hat.”

Dennis Kuhl, chairman, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

“Just remember, don’t put your eggs in one basket. As you grow, probably eight out of 10 things won’t work the first time, but the two that do work make up for the eight that don’t. If you try only one thing at a time, when that one thing doesn’t work, you’re six months behind the eight ball again. You’re in an even worse position. That’s why you need to have that multifaceted approach.”

Chad Hallock, co-founder and CEO, Budget Blinds Inc.

“When I was playing in high school, the coach told me, ‘As the quarterback, you have to try to use everybody around you to win the game. You have to use the players around you to win the game.’ My coach wasn’t going to judge me on my statistics. He was going to judge me on wins and losses. It’s the same way running a business, which is why you have to get to know the people around you and try to bring out the very best in them.”

Steve Plochocki, CEO, Quality Systems Inc.


Narrow your area of focus.

Don’t become discouraged when you encounter setbacks.

Utilize your whole team.

Published in Orange County
Thursday, 17 February 2011 12:46

About our sponsors

Smart Business Evolution of ManufacturingHyland Software

Developed by Hyland Software Inc., OnBase is an enterprise content management software suite that combines integrated document management, business process management and records management in a single application.

More than 9,000 organizations, including many manufacturers, use OnBase to streamline their processes and share electronic information with their employees, business partners and customers. In a supply chain environment, timely, accurate information is of the utmost importance.

Whether deployed as a hosted or premises-based solution, the result is reduced time and cost of performing important business functions, increased organizational efficiency, and improved governance, risk and compliance. And, with more than 900 employees, Hyland Software is a recognized leader in its industry.

For more information, contact Hyland Software at (440) 788-5000 or visit www.onbase.com.

Meaden & Moore

Meaden & Moore provides a wide variety of accounting and financial management services for the manufacturing industry. The firm’s Manufacturing Services Group is focused on understanding topical issues that affect manufacturers and helping them develop solutions that reduce costs, adapt and implement innovative management systems, and re-engineer business processes.

Among the services Meaden & Moore offers for manufacturers are cost accounting design, analysis and interpretation, product line profitability studies, internal financial reporting, critical performance measures, rate of return and capital expenditure analysis, strategic planning, pricing techniques and strategies, budgeting, cash flow analysis, lease versus buy analysis, and financial transactions.

For 90-plus years, the firm has focused its expertise and resources on providing the highest quality assurance, tax and business consulting services to organizations throughout the country. It recognizes that hard work and dedication translate into building trusted business relationships. With almost 200 professionals, we extend integrity and competence to each of our long-standing client partnerships.

For more information, contact Meaden & Moore at (216) 241-3272 or visit www.meadenmoore.com.

Herbruck Alder

For more than 45 years, Herbruck Alder’s benefit consultants have created cost-effective solutions that help employers maximize the value of their company’s group insurance, retirement plans and executive benefits. Herbruck Alder recently became part of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., and specializes in servicing clients ranging in size from those with less than 10 employees to others with more than 3,000. The firm has created specific divisions to assist companies with wellness programs as well as individuals with personal health care coverage. Herbruck Alder continually strives to create employee benefit plans that meet the financial objectives of its clients while enhancing their employee’s work life.

When you engage Herbruck Alder, it becomes an extension of your human resources efforts. The firm brings to this role years of experience dedicated to building benefits programs that not only foster employee financial security but also contribute to shareholder value by attracting and retaining talented staff. Its team delivers creative benefit solutions, responsive customer service, effective communication, expert advice, and technology tools and efficiencies.

For more information, contact Herbruck Alder at (216) 623-2600 or visit www.herbruckalder.com.

Key Bank

Key Bank has worked as the primary financial provider for manufacturing businesses for nearly a century, establishing strong client relationships with advisers who understand the industry, where manufacturers have been and where they are going.

At Key, you’ll work with an adviser who is acutely aware of your market, your competition, your industry’s history and the latest trends. Drawing on a team of product specialists, your adviser will leverage deep expertise and resources, resulting in value-added ideas, insights and solutions in a wide range of fields, including commercial financing, treasury management services, equipment lease financing, foreign exchange, international trade services, interest rate risk management, syndicated finance, investment banking, asset management, private banking and wealth management.

For more information, contact Key Bank at (800) 600-2680 or visit www.key.com/commercialbanking.


Ohio.net is a full-service Internet technology provider with one of the largest service areas in Ohio and product offerings that range from high-speed access products to security and firewall-related services. With an extensive history in communications, Ohio.net has developed its network with a high level of adaptability and growth for an ever-changing Internet market. The firm has a history that extends more than 100 years. Owned by Doylestown Communications Inc., Ohio.net is part of a communications consortium that includes local phone service companies, a cable television company and other Internet providers. Ohio.net has leveraged this background and experience to stay ahead of the technology curve and make development decisions that form steady growth.

For more information, contact Ohio.net at (888) 881-0805 or visit www.ohio.net.

Hughie’s Audio-Visual & Computer

Since 1953, Hughie’s Audio-Visual & Computer has been considered the one and only source of quality and professional audiovisual equipment in the Northeast Ohio marketplace. From its inception, the company has placed the client’s happiness and success as its primary goal.

Through the years, this has been achieved by upgrading and purchasing new, technologically advanced equipment, including flat-screen monitors and plasma screens, and staying one step ahead of the competition. This proactive stance, combined with a team approach toward projects and productions, makes Hughie’s a true innovator in its field.

For more information, contact Hughie’s at (216) 361-4600 or visit www.hughies.com.

Roetzel & Andress

With more than 220 attorneys and 12 offices located in Ohio, Florida, New York and Washington, D.C., Roetzel & Andress attorneys serve a broad spectrum of clients on a regional, national and international basis. Since 1876, our firm has been guided by the core values of innovation, client service, integrity and excellence in practice. Over the years, the firm has strategically grown in breadth, depth and strength of legal services offered in response to an ever-expanding client base and scope of legal needs.

Our commitment to excellence in client service includes investing the time to listen to our clients and thoroughly understand not just their legal issues but also their organizational structure and business goals. This, in turn, allows us to provide better counsel and offer our clients practical insight in matters that may affect their business. Roetzel’s entrepreneurial philosophy encourages our attorneys to think like our clients — with business minds, ready to embrace new challenges and implement innovative approaches.

For more information, contact Roetzel & Andress at (216) 623-0150 or visit www.ralaw.com.

Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit health plans, serving more than 8.6 million members. In Northeast Ohio, Kaiser Permanente addresses the health care needs of approximately 130,000 members in a nine-county area. Services are provided by more than 180 Ohio Permanente Medical Group physicians, 3,000 network affiliated physicians and more than 1,900 nonphysician employees. In 2011, Kaiser Permanente of Ohio celebrates 47 years of providing care in Northeast Ohio.

As a health care organization in the 21st century, we have a mission — to provide quality care for our members and their families and to contribute to the well-being of our communities. Our medical decisions are made by physicians and their patients working together. All patient care provided at a Kaiser Permanente Medical Center is united through an innovative, nationally award-winning electronic medical record (EMR) information system that greatly enhances the physicians’ capacity to offer coordinated care to members — whether in the Ohio region or in any of the other Kaiser Permanente regions.

For more information, contact Kaiser Permanente at www.kp.org.


Stancato’s has been serving Northeast Ohio for three generations with its continued Italian traditions of meeting customers’ needs. We are still family-owned, focused and dedicated to quality, value and service. Beyond our restaurant, our catering offers many different services — from complete or customized meals for up to 3,000 people. Delivery, full service and drop off are available anywhere in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. Last-minute orders are available, and we offer easy Internet ordering at your convenience. First-, second- and third-shift orders can be placed serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Corporate charge accounts can be set up with detailed billing services. From the very start, our passion has been to be the taste you’ll remember.

For more information, contact Stancato’s at (440) 886-6242 or www.stancatos.com.

All Things Eventful

All Things Eventful, a Bountiful Baskets Inc. company, is the premier source for creative solutions to your special event and gift-giving needs. In 1999, Bountiful Baskets began designing custom-filled baskets and expanded in 2003 to offer special event design and theme decor, as well as promotional products and keepsakes — then, accordingly, updated its trade name and corporate branding during the past year. Whether your company needs decor help for an open house or recognition dinner, giveaways for trade shows, apparel for employees, or gifts for clients or referral sources, you can count on the integrity, expertise and value of All Things Eventful!

For more information, visit www.allthingseventful.com.

Published in Akron/Canton
Thursday, 17 February 2011 12:31

Finding a rhythm

Scott and Steven Balogh both have musical training in their backgrounds, so it means something a little different when they talk about being tuned in to what their customers need at Mar-Bal Inc.

The brothers, with Scott as president and CEO and Steven as vice president, view their custom molding company as though it were a jazz combo and symphony orchestra. The manufacturing plants have to operate with a conductor and hierarchy that maintains and improves quality and cost control.

The sales and engineering organization operates like a jazz combo, improvising and innovating with customers and each other to create and develop new products and services.

When they observe what’s happening outside the business and integrate those ideas into the operations at Mar-Bal, it’s as though they were playing a little improvisational jazz. They could be playing a song that’s been played thousands of times by hundreds of other artists. But by adding a touch of creativity to the performance, or in this case, the quality of their product or service, the brothers make it their own, and that’s what people remember.

This approach has helped Mar-Bal adapt to the global economy and evolve its manufacturing operations to consistently give customers what they are looking for and more.

The company utilizes an easy-to-understand metrics and recognition program that helps ensure quality and excellence. Training programs take place at all levels of the company, including the senior management team. An outside advisory board reviews and critiques the performance of the company’s leaders at the top.

Every aspect of the company is scrutinized for possible ways to improve, leading to a culture made up of employees who are always looking to get better at what they do.

“Frankly, we were shocked that a small, Midwest manufacturing firm could reach communication and learning metrics similar to the best organizations in Silicon Valley,” says Valdis E. Krebs, chief scientist at Orgnet.com, a Westlake firm that has analyzed Mar-Bal’s performance.

“To our expert eye, we see a well-poised, expertly trained and highly performing organization, very similar to the best in the world,” Krebs says.

Mar-Bal’s efforts continue to pay off. In December, the company introduced Thermital, a thermoset composite that looks like steel but offers much more flexibility in terms of how it can be used.

How to reach: Mar-Bal Inc., (440) 543-7526 or www.mar-bal.com

Published in Akron/Canton
Thursday, 17 February 2011 12:27

Defying the stats

In an industry that isn’t known for efficiencies, Kohler Coating is making great strides.

The company manufactures precision thin film metering technology systems for corrugating and coating applications, which are used in the production of corrugated board. The corrugated board industry produced 93.5 million tons of containerboard in 2009, which was worth roughly $45 billion. Nearly half of that was produced by Asia and almost one-third by the United States. While there’s a lot of production going on, there aren’t a lot of efficiencies to accompany it. The average corrugator has less than 27 percent process efficiency that consumes between $250,000 to $1 million a year in energy, $400,000 to $800,000 a year in adhesive and $30 million to $50 million a year in paper consumption.

Recognizing these inefficiencies, under the leadership of President Herb Kohler, Kohler Coating has developed equipment that doubles the energy efficiency of some corrugated plants and reduced the adhesive consumption by more than 40 percent. By doing these things, the company is teaching its customers to operate greener by using less adhesive, water and energy and by generating less carbon dioxide. For example, if Kohler was able to reduce the weight of all boxes by only 20 percent, this would save 20 million tons of paper per year, which is a $12 billion savings, and also save $240 million of natural gas per year. That same initiative would also eliminate 40 million tons of carbon dioxide.

Kohler has developed the Iso-Thermal process in response to its customers’ desires to reduce their manufacturing costs and production waste while producing lighter and stronger board. They do a complete analysis of each board manufacturer’s current process and facility to determine the needs of that manufacturer. Because of the analysis, the machinery and adhesive chemicals required are specific to each customer, which results in higher success and customer satisfaction rates.

Because this process is individualized for each customer, research and development is crucial to continuously improve the manufacturing of corrugated board. To do this, Kohler has established the only corrugating pilot line in the world to test different aspects of the Iso-Thermal process and board processing. The pilot line is housed at Kohler’s Canton facility, and the company received a $750,000 grant from the state to improve the pilot facility and create the Canton Corrugated Paper Center to further create cutting-edge technology for the production of lightweight, high-grade corrugated materials.

How to reach: Kohler Coating, (330) 499-1407 or www.kohlercoating.com

Published in Akron/Canton
Thursday, 17 February 2011 12:22

Balancing act

As a company that prospers off of helping people be healthy, Vitamix Corp. understands that healthy people know how to bring balance to their lives. When it comes to having a healthy, growing business, balance is just as important.

In 2010, Vitamix sales grew 50 percent over the previous year, led by Jodi Berg, chairman, president and CEO of the company. It achieved this record sales year in a difficult economy in large part by utilizing a systems thinking approach to business that focuses on bringing balance to product and process quality, customer satisfaction, and cost.

It accomplished this by developing increased flexibility in operations, which allows processes and products to be adapted quickly for changing consumer, supplier or company needs. As a result, the company was able to release three new products in 2010.

Vitamix employs a built-to-order process for products, which allows flexibility and adaptability in its customers’ changing needs. From the start, customers have maximum flexibility in designing their product objectives. Vitamix, in turn, can also ensure cost efficiency as customer requirements change.

This flexibility is also present in the company’s assembly process, which now includes certain assembly lines that can shift usage around as needed based on a customer’s specified product and production requirements. Adding more lines in short order has also helped the company meet production demands without taking on nonvalue-added costs.

Focusing on cost management rather than cost cutting, Vitamix is always looking for ways to streamline inefficiencies so it doesn’t have to sacrifice quality for cost. The company sees inspecting product quality at the end of production lines as a misguided and costly way of doing business, both financially and in customer satisfaction. Instead of waiting until the end of assembly to recognize poor quality products, Vitamix monitors quality measurements throughout the process to make sure specifications are met on the first attempt, saving itself and its customers time and money.

The company’s balanced business model has been the key to its exceptional financial success in 2010, while also helping the company achieve its goals to deliver high-quality products and meet the ever-changing demand of its customers.

How to reach: Vitamix Corp., (440) 235-4840 or www.vitamix.com

Published in Akron/Canton
Thursday, 17 February 2011 12:16

High and dry

At Tremco Commercial Sealants & Waterproofing, manufacturing is all about getting products to the customer with minimal waste of time or money.

It’s why the RPM Building Solutions Group-owned company has been implementing a change to a culture focused on lean manufacturing. In addition to streamlining the manufacturing process, Tremco’s lean culture is designed to maximize employee involvement and ownership as it relates to continuous improvement.

During the past year, the organizational structure at Tremco, which is led by RPM Building Solutions President and CEO Randy Korach, has been modified to include the use of lean manufacturing tools such as business products excellence teams, kaizen events, small “k” initiatives, 5S methodology events, visual factory management, accountability boards, multiple skill set training for operators and sustainability initiatives.

Through the efforts of employee-based business product excellence teams, Tremco realized cash savings of $479,000 through the first six months of its current fiscal year, and through its sustainability efforts, it has realized a savings of $416,000 through the first six months of the fiscal year. Included in those savings are energy usage reduction, waste to landfill reductions and water usage reductions.

Aside from the economic benefits, Tremco’s transition to lean manufacturing culture has energized their employees, increased engagement and improved responsiveness to customer needs — factors that are critical to Tremco’s long-term success. Tremco’s leadership believes that the company’s employees are the key to increasing competitiveness on a continuous basis, both domestically and globally.

Tremco’s transition to lean manufacturing has allowed the company to respond more efficiently and effectively to customer needs. Service levels have improved dramatically from 65 percent of projects on time and complete to 90 percent on time and complete in the span of two years. Customer complaints have decreased by 30 percent over the same time period. Ultimately, Tremco has been able to grow market share during the current recession and increased operating revenue from last fiscal year to this year.

The company’s increased engagement of employees has spread into community involvement. Tremco management and employees take part in numerous community initiatives, including the United Way, Harvest for Hunger, MedWish, Habitat for Humanity and various other activities aimed at supporting the company’s sustainability efforts. Tremco’s goal is to have every employee participate in a “green” community activity.

How to reach: Tremco Commercial Sealants & Waterproofing, (216) 292-5000 or www.tremcosealants.com

Published in Akron/Canton
Thursday, 17 February 2011 12:12

Forward thinking

When you were younger, your parents probably told you your taste buds would change over time, or maybe you even used that line on your own children to get them to try new foods. Well, the folks at Sandridge Food Corp. are constantly on the quest to find innovative ways to better please their customers’ taste buds.

Sandridge Food Corp., a manufacturer of fresh deli salads, soups, entrees, desserts, sauces and dips, has grown to be recognized as a leader in taste, technology and food safety in the North American refrigerated foods industry.

With the growing consumer demand for great-tasting food, CEO Mark Sandridge, has made it his company’s mission to do whatever it takes to adapt to the changing manufacturing world.

One way Sandridge offers its customers the best food products is by developing state-of-the-art technology to help deliver it. Last April, Sandridge Food Corp. unveiled its new investment in high-pressure processing (HPP) capabilities along with a 7,000-square-foot HPP center. HPP is a groundbreaking food processing method that uses cold water under high pressure as an alternative to the traditional thermal process and preservatives to provide safe, minimally processed foods.

During the HPP process, the product is packaged in a flexible container and loaded into a high-pressure chamber filled with cold water and then pressurized with a pump. The pressure is transmitted uniformly, which allows the food to retain its shape, and because no heat is needed, the sensory characteristics of the food are retained while still destroying bacteria.

Because HPP kills bacteria, the need for harmful chemicals — which can give food an “off” taste — to preserve food and extend shelf life is eliminated. For Sandridge customers, HPP results in bacteria-free foods, further eliminating the chance of recalls and food-related disease. And because the foods stay fresher longer, Sandridge is able to reduce product spoilage and waste. The enhanced shelf life also enables their chefs to expand their processing capabilities and utilize a greater variety of ingredients.

Sandridge Food Corp. has evolved its manufacturing and adapted to the global economy through HPP, invigorating products, growing “greener” and a commitment to food and people safety. The results of their innovative drive are better-tasting products, no matter what age your taste buds may be.

How to reach: Sandridge Food Corp., (330) 725-2348 or www.sandridge.com

Published in Akron/Canton