Champions of Change
OM Group's sales soar thanks to a business transformation.
In his letter to shareholders in OM Group's annual report, CEO Joseph Scaminace calls 2007 "a year of change." The Cleveland-based company sold its nickel business, completed two acquisitions, expanded a partnership with a manufacturer of nano metals and alloys, and instituted operational excellence initiatives.
The moves paid off: 2007 sales reached $1.02 billion for OM Group, which develops, produces and markets specialty chemicals and advanced materials. That figure is a 55 percent increase from the previous year.
"We're doing a lot of things right," says Greg Griffith, vice president of strategic planning, development and investor relations. "As the world's largest supplier of primary cobalt, we benefited from the increase in demand for commodities and, therefore, the increase in prices. But our success was not solely due to market factors outside our control: We've implemented a broad-based growth and transformation strategy."
OM Group hopes to leverage its existing competencies, broaden its customer base and expand its product portfolio in three primary areas — electronic materials, portable power and advanced materials. The company's internal operational objectives are "focused on getting more output while reducing costs," says Griffith.
OM Group has 2,100 employees and serves more than 30 industries. The end-use applications for its chemicals and materials include affordable energy, portable power, clean air and water and proprietary products for the microelectronics industry.
Having achieved record growth last year, the company has no plans to rest: "We intend to be a $2 billion to $4 billion company by 2010," said Scaminace in the annual report. "How we will get there is no mystery; we will continue the drive we began in 2007, methodically executing a sound growth strategy."
A Total Package
Crius Flow Systems thrives as part of a turnkey solution.
When Avance Premier Corp. started in 1986, it had two employees working in the founder's basement. More than 20 years later, the company runs a 20,000-square-foot facility in Cleveland and has four operating divisions. One of those is Crius Flow Systems, which takes standard hose and tube assemblies from concept to application for private label clients and OEMs.
In the past 18 months, Avance reorganized as an umbrella company to its divisions. These include Crius; Engineered Machine Systems, its engineering and equipment operation; and fier and sommét, both production operations. Corporate restructuring played a large part in Crius increasing sales 59 percent last year, says James Nagy, CEO and president of Avance and acting president of Crius.
The company does not reveal sales figures. It also remains tight-lipped about its work. "Part of our culture is confidentiality and secrecy of our clients' intellectual property," says Nagy. The objective "is to take a client's idea or current product line and go to the next generation with it — to help with design, engineering, prototyping, working models and, hopefully, production," he adds.
In addition to restructuring, Nagy says Crius grew in 2007 by being dynamic, recognizing what it takes to win business, supporting customers and adopting a company culture to achieve these goals. Employees are key to the company's success. "Our people are degreed engineers with a hands-on approach. They'll do whatever it takes," he says. "And that culture pays in dividends."
Though Nagy shies from business clichés, he says that Avance's marketing strategies and turnkey methodologies have created a "win-win" situation for the company and its customers. "There will be significant growth again this year," he says.
— Susan Keen Flynn
Armed for Success
MPG prospers in the military market through top-notch customer service.
Since it began manufacturing and selling military hardware components and assemblies in 2003, Military Products Group's revenue has experienced double-digit increases each year. Last year, sales rose a whopping 81 percent to $3.7 million.
"The credit for our success and our growth has to go to the employees," says Bradley Leinenger, president of Military Products Group (MPG), based in North Ridgeville. "They're the ones that provide the high-quality product we manufacture and the outstanding customer service." MPG has about 50 employees, including full-time staff and temporary help, who design, manufacture and supply material handling components used by the military to tie down, lift and tow cargo.
MPG's clients include the Department of Defense, which purchases spare and replacement parts, and prime contractors to the DOD. While some companies avoid selling to the government, Leinenger sought the niche. A lifelong salesman, he ran across a company in the 1990s that transitioned from automotive accounts to government work. "It really excited me," recalls Leinenger. "I got the feeling that there was opportunity for a company to be a liaison between small business and the government."
Leinenger transitioned from a liaison for small companies to a distributor and eventually a manufacturer. He incorporated MPG in 2001 and began operations two years later. Quality is imperative to him: The company is ISO 9001:2000 certified. Customer service is equally critical.
"It's the old adage, but hardly anybody does it: At MPG, we believe the customer is always right," says Leinenger. "We go the extra mile and spend the extra dollar."