Thursday, 17 February 2011 12:01


Masco Cabinetry LLC stays on its manufacturing game by staying flexible in its processes.

The company, led by President Karen Strauss, has been able to maintain an on-time, complete delivery rate of better than 99.5 percent to its external customers through the implementation of numerous operational and capital improvements aimed at raising the bar on manufacturing flexibility.

In particular, Masco has implemented three processes that have aided the company’s manufacturing flexibility.

First, Masco created a concept called “just in time” door cell operation, allowing the company to produce cabinet doors in a timely fashion at its Orwell, Ohio, facility. Prior to the investment and subsequent startup, cabinet doors were purchased from outside suppliers, which allowed staff at the Orwell facility to focus on frame building, finishing and assembly. But the demand from customers for shorter lead times on finished products resulted in the need to build doors quickly. The Orwell facility was outfitted with a state-of-the-art manufacturing cell capable of producing doors in minutes, instead of the days that were previously required.

The improvement led not just to shorter lead times, but to lower overall costs and higher numbers of on-time complete shipments.

The second process Masco implemented was screw-together frames at the Jackson, Ohio, facility. Traditionally, frame assembly in Jackson has used a drill and dowel process, which produces a high-quality, low-cost frame but is designed to be built in large lot sizes — which is impractical because product proliferation has resulted in significant lot size reduction.

The Jackson facility has now split its production between the drill and dowel and screw-together processes, accommodating smaller lot sizes while maintaining high quality and production levels.

The third process implemented was finish-to-order painting. Large numbers of products and short delivery times have required Masco to evolve from a finish-to-stock cabinet manufacturer to a finish-to-paint producer. The prior process required the Jackson facility staff to keep painted finished goods in a stocking warehouse. However, through the use of lean manufacturing principles, including setup time, TPM and just-in-time scheduling — along with Six Sigma projects — Masco’s Jackson facility is now able to finish frames to customer order, thus reducing lead times, warehouse space and cost.

How to reach: Masco Cabinetry LLC, (734) 205-4657 or

Published in Akron/Canton
Thursday, 17 February 2011 11:56

Leave nothing to spare

Eric Lofquist and Scott Forster take materials that many people view as just plain gross and make them quite useful at Magnus International Group Inc.

Magnus was formed in 2007 by its co-owners, Lofquist, who serves as president and CEO, and Forster, who is vice president and chief operating officer. Magnus acquired Twin Rivers Technologies LLC and changed the name to Hardy Industrial Technologies LLC.

It formed a second company, Recycling and Treatment Technologies LLC, which Magnus wholly owns along with Hardy.

The core business of Magnus is the application of recycling and treatment technologies to convert byproduct plant and animal fats and oils into materials that can be used as a substitute for petroleum-based feedstock in a variety of all-natural products including fire logs, candles and de-icing products. The products are better because they use fewer materials and have less of an impact on the environment.

The company’s approach is to get the most use out of every material that it comes in contact with. So when railcars arrive with incoming material, Hardy provides tank car cleaning services. The wastewater generated in this steam cleaning process then goes to RTT for pretreatment where even the smallest concentrations of fats and oils are removed. They are then reclaimed and blended to create all-natural fuel oil that can be used as a substitute for petroleum oil.

Magnus also takes advantage of the proximity of its business units to the Lake County Landfill by collecting landfill gas. This gas runs the company’s four boilers and two heaters, providing enough energy to heat more than 500 homes.

This use of landfill gas protects the public from the potentially harmful effects of subsurface migration of explosive methane and air pollution caused by surface emissions. It also reduces odor nuisances.

Magnus continues to search for new ways to combine its research and development expertise with its production capabilities. The company recently began work on three new projects that will use existing production processes at Hardy, along with newly developing technologies, to produce useful energy products, animal feed and high-quality wax.

The company is always focused on continued growth that is sustainable both from an economic and an environmental perspective. This approach makes Magnus a leader in implementing important pollution prevention and energy-saving initiatives.

How to reach: Magnus International Group Inc., (216) 592-8355 or

Published in Akron/Canton
Thursday, 17 February 2011 11:34

Moving forward

The past year was an exciting one, filled with growth and optimism for Kovatch Castings Inc., a Uniontown-based company that provides high-quality investment castings for the medical, aerospace, military and other commercial applications.

While the company was founded in 1976 as a small organization to meet the needs of many local businesses, over the past 35 years, it has grown into much more than that. Under the leadership of President Doug Kovatch, the son of the company’s founder, 2010 marked a year in which the company expanded its business in order to remain competitive. The company decided to install new and more efficient equipment and has added an additional 16,000 square feet to its current building. This additional space has allowed the business to add two new energy-efficient foundry ovens, a conveyor system, a dryer cabinet and new software. All of these new technologies enable the company to utilize a heat recovery system to heat the company’s operations and has allowed Kovatch Castings to become much more efficient, consistent and flexible. As a result of this expansion, the company has hired an additional 45 employees and expanded its business by a potential $10 million.

This expansion wasn’t just important to the business though. It also caught the eye of the state of Ohio, which sees the project as extremely important to pumping up the local economy. As a result, the state awarded the company a $1 million grant. The funds were allocated to the state from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and the criteria for the grant required that jobs are created and energy-saving improvements be implemented. The other exciting part of the grant is that this is the maximum grant amount awarded by the state, which means Kovatch Castings is heading in the right direction.

Kovatch and his employees are dedicated to providing superior products and service, and they pride themselves on the company’s success. They also strive to provide the best service and support to all of their customers and challenge themselves toward continuous improvement so that the company can continue to make these kinds of strides toward the future.

How to reach: Kovatch Castings Inc., (330) 896-9944 or

Published in Akron/Canton
Wednesday, 16 February 2011 17:24

A retooled approach

To best serve customers, you have to be where your customers are.

As a global competitor, Kennametal’s reach extends to more than 80,000 customers throughout 60 countries. However, simply being global isn’t enough. To utilize the advantages of having a global company, the company has had to truly develop a global culture.

With the worldwide economic crisis looming, Kennametal knew its thousands of customers and employees in North America, Western Europe and around the world would be affected. Under the leadership of Chairman, President and CEO Carlos Cardoso, it used the recession as an opportunity to restructure its global business model to be more resistant to any country’s economy.

Cardoso divided the organization into two segments — industrial and infrastructure — in order to improve companywide alignment and flatten the organization to maximize opportunities for employee development, customer competitiveness and global growth. To strengthen its global customer relationships, Kennametal refocused its energies on customers by industry segment and specific end markets.

Using an enhanced market sector approach to better utilize its global functions has helped Kennametal accomplish its goal of helping its customers to be leaders in their industries. As a more fully integrated enterprise, Kennametal can best leverage international best practices and knowledge sharing to help its customers get products into the marketplace faster, while also offering them more custom solutions.

This new organizational structure has already won Kennametal new business. One of the world’s largest auto companies increased its share spending with Kennametal by five times its previous sales because of Kennametal’s ability to provide enterprise customs solutions for its numerous global markets. A centrally coordinated response helped Kennametal overcome its biggest competitor for the business.

Another way Kennametal has built its global culture is by re-energizing its work force, putting resources toward initiatives that look out for the safety and well-being of employees, the environment and communities where it operates. It is known for its 100 percent Safe Initiative for employees and its Protecting the Planet program, which incorporates the use of green packaging, recycling and other sustainable practices. Through Protecting the Planet, Kennametal successfully cut its energy usage by 15 percent.

The company also introduced its Kennametal Value Business System in 2003, which emphasizes the six core business execution processes and key values that drive the company’s success.

These initiatives combined have helped Kennametal move toward the future.

How to reach: Kennametal, (800) 446-7738 or

Published in Akron/Canton
Wednesday, 16 February 2011 17:17

Adopting techniques

H.C. Starck Inc. is not a household name. However, H.C. Starck is the quintessential global company that participates in and benefits the entire world economy. It is that global network of manufacturers that the company, a manufacturer of refractory metals, technical ceramics and chemicals for the electronics industry, utilizes when looking for ways to improve its operations.

In 2006, the company was growing and expanding and consolidated its smaller manufacturing operations into its Euclid, Ohio, location, which serves as the company’s U.S. headquarters, doubling its manufacturing capacity. However, growth by itself was not enough for the company and Dmitry Shashkov, CEO of H.C. Starck’s Fabricated Products Business Unit, to survive in a global economy.

So company leaders went to the drawing board and looked at the possibilities for further improvement. H.C. Starck started by taking a page out of the automotive manufacturing approach. It implemented the Japanese management philosophy of 5S. The 5S system is designed to reduce waste and optimize productivity through maintaining an orderly workplace and using visual cues to achieve more consistent operational results.

The company then took the next step in its evolution by adopting the principles of lean manufacturing to create change in the way the company did business. H.C. Starck hired lean manufacturing engineers and also trained employees on the practice. The combination of tools, methods and principles, coupled with the mindset and behaviors of the employees, allowed for a rapid rise in quality, productivity and a streamlining of material logistics.

Not satisfied quite yet, H.C. Starck implemented a continuous improvement program and began weekly kaizen events to create more change for the better. These improvement events have helped H.C. Starck reduce manufacturing lead times by 50 percent and have increased on-time deliveries from 70 to 98 percent.

All of these changes and more are vital to the company’s existence today. These changes have allowed the company to remain competitive in a global market in a time when companies were either going out of business or laying off good workers. Without the ability to evolve and adapt in a way to better its business over the past three years, H.C. Starck might not have survived. Due to the company’s dedication and continuous improvement methods, it’s in a prime position to prosper.

HOW TO REACH: H.C. Starck Inc., (216) 692-3990 or

Published in Akron/Canton
Wednesday, 16 February 2011 17:06

Green light

The Garland Co.If you work for The Garland Co. Inc., you’re going to go green.

Sustainability is a priority at the roofing manufacturer, led by President David Sokol. Garland was among the first roofing companies in North America to embrace green technologies and remains at the forefront of sustainable solutions. In 2008, Garland created Garland Energy Systems Inc. to extend its capabilities, encompassing seamless delivery of solar and other alternative energy solutions.

The same year, Garland was awarded a $1 million grant from the Ohio Third Frontier, a technology-based economic development initiative that supports existing industries that are transforming themselves with new globally competitive products.

Garland is also working in collaboration with a photovoltaic developer and manufacturer in Toledo to develop technology that will be used in installing new photovoltaic panels on commercial and industrial buildings.

Following the creation of Garland Energy Systems, the company developed a sustainable product line to better equip customers in identifying sustainable alternatives to existing roofing technology. The Garland Greenhouse product line presents such an alternative, with eco-friendly technologies that incorporate characteristics like post-consumer and pre-consumer recycled content, lowered volatile organic content, highly reflective surfacing, 100 percent solids technology, water-based technology, end-of-life recyclability and energy performance characteristics.

Furthering Garland’s commitment to sustainable initiatives, the company has recently expanded its use of recycled products, including the incorporation of recycled glass into all roll goods. Garland also developed the first bio-based bitumen membrane with the highest recycled content of any roofing product in the industry. The company has promoted sustainability by reducing and eliminating volatile fumes, odors and other safety hazards related to the production of roofing materials, including the 2007 introduction of Green-Lock membrane adhesive, which is a high-performance, 100 percent solids- and solvent-free polyether member with no volatile organic content or odor.

But none of Garland’s green initiatives would work without an integrated manufacturing process that provides a stable supply of materials. The company recently expanded its capabilities as one of the leading manufacturers and distributors of high-performance roofing solutions. Garland purchased a modified bitumen manufacturer in 2006, doubling its roll goods production capabilities from 400,000 rolls a year to 800,000. The acquisition provides Garland with the dual plant capability to produce modified bitumen membranes and to serve as a backup to the Cleveland manufacturing facility.

How to reach: The Garland Co. Inc., (216) 641-7500 or

Published in Akron/Canton
Wednesday, 16 February 2011 17:01

Ready to grow

Delta Systems Inc. has always been poised to adapt to whatever changes might occur in the electronic manufacturing sector. So as Northeast Ohio prepares for the arrival of the medical mart plaza in downtown Cleveland and the growth it is expected to create for the medical industry, Elizabeth Barry, Delta’s president and CEO, will no doubt have her company ready to capitalize on whatever opportunities arise.

Delta was awarded a contract last May to manufacture a new surgical device. The company that gave Delta the project cited both its manufacturing and design capabilities in making its choice.

It’s the effort to always strive for excellence that fuels the growth at Delta and helps the company secure its jobs.

Recent company initiatives have included rapid expansion in the electronics manufacturing services industry and a focus on global distribution.

Employees are ready to pursue such new challenges because the culture is one where quality is always the goal. Training is regularly available and emphasized to help employees consistently gain new skills and remain in touch with the latest industry standards in their field.

This tenacity has helped Delta become known worldwide for the rugged reliability of its products, a result of a rigorous process designed to find any errors before they can become a problem for the customer.

A two-step process helps ensure that new products meet customer expectations. This process includes a product design verification test and process validation. Delta has a fully integrated test center that includes validation for vibration, electrical load, automated product cycling and material testing. Tests are also conducted to check for the effect of temperature, humidity, salt, fog and dust to make sure nothing is left to chance.

The company continues to pursue growth both by expanding its core product lines into global markets and by leveraging its Ohio-based world-class manufacturing capability to grow its presence in the electronics manufacturing services industry.

It’s this type of effort and focus on growth that helps companies stay competitive and eliminates the need to move product off-shore for cost-effective production. Instead, international markets become buyers for product made right here in Ohio.

Delta recently initiated a new business relationship to pursue an expanded focus in Europe for its Ohio-made core lawn and garden switch and electronic garden controls and displays.

How to reach: Delta Systems Inc., (330) 626-2811 or

Published in Akron/Canton
Wednesday, 16 February 2011 16:52

Capitalizing on opportunities

In the past three years, Cardinal Fastener & Specialty Co. Inc.’s sales to wind turbine manufacturers has grown more than 900 percent and also caught the attention of then President-elect Barack Obama.

The growth explosion all started in 1998 when the manufacturing company, under the leadership of John W. Grabner, the company’s founder and president, began its “Lean Thinking” journey, where it started with, what they called, “blowing up the company.” The Cardinal team started a process to eliminate waste from the entire operation — from manufacturing to administration to sales. Instead of bringing in consultants, management got all of the company’s employees involved — after all, that was the best way to transform the culture if it was really going to work. Manufacturing lead times went from six weeks to five days, and half of all sales now come from orders that are manufactured and shipped the same day the order is taken. At the same time, productivity improvements increased more than 50 percent.

With such great strides made, it would be easy to rest on their laurels, but the Cardinal team members kept at it, and the second surge of growth began in 2007. The company’s reputation for fast turnaround of specialty manufactured fasteners brought in an order for a wind turbine project in Iowa. The company quickly realized that there was an opportunity to expand into the global marketplace of renewable energy, and in early 2009, the company’s accomplishments caught the attention of President-elect Obama. The company was asked to be the first stop on his inaugural journey, and when he visited the plant on Jan. 16, 2009, he recognized Cardinal’s accomplishments.

“Cardinal’s owners exemplify the American spirit. And its products, used from coast to coast in the Statue of Liberty and Golden Gate Bridge, are the highest quality and best price,” Obama said at his visit. … “You can’t think of a more iconic company. … (Cardinal) began building wind turbine parts just two years ago and is now poised to make half its earnings that way. … If anyone doubts that we can dig ourselves out of this hole, I invite them here to … look at Cardinal Fastener.”

The benefits to the Cardinal team are great, and as a result of the rapid growth, it has expanded its work force, growing 47 percent last year.

How to reach: Cardinal Fastener & Specialty Co. Inc., (216) 831-3800 or

Published in Akron/Canton
Wednesday, 16 February 2011 16:39

Flash forward

Smart Business Evolution of ManufacturingWhat does the road ahead look like for Northeast Ohio manufacturers?

If the past few years are any indication, we’re probably in for more of the same: Tighter supply chains, leaner organizations, greater pressure from globalization, more emphasis on innovation and sustainability, and a focus on customer service.

However, competing today, as well as in the future, requires much more. It requires a systematic change in the mindset, which recognizes that the business models that worked yesterday may no longer be relevant and the operational and delivery systems currently in place should be constantly tested and re-evaluated for efficacy.

Customers today are looking wherever they can to find greater value in their business relationships, and anything manufacturers do to meet those goals will mean the difference between success and failure.

Only one thing is certain these days — if you’re not adapting to the changes, your business has probably begun its march toward obsolescence.

The 2011 Evolution of Manufacturing honorees, whose stories you will read on the following pages, have demonstrated the ability to navigate their organizations well and better position themselves to take advantage of new opportunities for success.

Later this month, we invite you to join us at the 2011 Evolution of Manufacturing Conference at Hyland Software, where you can learn more from these companies as well as participate in a town-hall-style discussion with three dynamic business leaders from General Electric, Tremco Inc. and Sandridge Foods. They’ll discuss how they’ve positioned their own organizations for the future and the ways in which you might consider thinking about positioning your own company, no matter what industry you’re in.

Congratulations to our honorees, and we hope to see you at the event on February 17th.

Published in Akron/Canton
Wednesday, 16 February 2011 16:34

The road ahead

I read a report recently about how U.S. manufacturing has fared in comparison to other industrialized nations over the past few years.

While global competition has increased dramatically during the past decade — including the notion that every company must have a China strategy — one of the more surprising items concerned an investment uptick in U.S.-based manufacturing plants.

That really shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me, especially considering that Bill Ford Jr., chairman of Ford Motor Co., echoed something similar at an event I attended in California late last year.

At the time, Ford mentioned that his company had made significant investments in its U.S. auto plants, including moving some manufacturing that previously had been done overseas back to the U.S.

Taken as a whole, this presents a much more positive picture than the usual doom-and-gloom scenario put forth when the conversation turns to the state of manufacturing in America.

This is one reason why, this year, we’ve chosen to focus our annual Evolution of Manufacturing Conference on “The Road Ahead …” and highlight what manufacturers have done to position their organizations for growth.

It’s easy to fall into a comfortable position of looking at all the negatives that have hit manufacturing hard over the past several years. But industry cycles ebb and flow, and like anything that ebbs and flows, there will be times when the tide is high and it appears as if you might just drown. Conversely, there will also be times when you believe you might just be able to walk along the beach and shoreline forever without worrying about slipping and falling into the water and being dragged down by the undertow.

The reality is somewhere in the middle. Manufacturers that have taken the sometimes painful step of embracing change in the face of global competitiveness have come to one of two conclusions — they adapted to meet the new challenges or they determined that they could no longer compete nor afford to make the necessary changes and bowed out.

Those companies about which you’ll read in this issue represent the first group and the ways that they’ve adapted to give them a leg up for the road ahead are impressive. After reading their stories, I welcome you to drop us a line and tell us about how your company has invested in change to hit the ground running for your own road ahead.

Contact executive editor Dustin S. Klein at

Published in Akron/Canton