As Supply Chain Director of the family-owned exercise equipment manufacturer Concept2, Glenn Dwyer has a problem many companies would dream of today: rapid demand.
The Vermont-based company, which makes stationary rowing, ski, and bicycle machines, saw sales surge over the past 12 months, largely driven by the booming home appliance market during the pandemic.
“We still have a six-week waiting list for our products,” said Dwyer.
The backlog is double the result of both a government-mandated shutdown of Concept2's manufacturing facility last spring and supply chain challenges on multiple fronts, Dwyer said.
“We continue to strive to secure the materials necessary to keep production running at maximum capacity,” said Dwyer.
One supplier that has prevailed for Concept2 is Able Coil & Electronics Co. (ACE), based in Bolton, a small manufacturer of precision-wound coils, transformers and electrical assemblies. The company makes the electrical parts that are connected to the ergometer on Concept2 machines to monitor performance data and communicate it to the user.
“This data is one of the most important components of our machines,” said Dwyer.
Demand for Concept2 products has boosted Able Coil's production and bottom line, said Steve Rockefeller, company president. While some Connecticut manufacturers scaled back during the pandemic, ACE has expanded its business, including the completion of a new 20,000-square-foot manufacturing facility adorned with solar panels and an adjacent 5,600-square-foot corporate headquarters, both of which are located on Howard Road in Bolton. Rockefeller, who runs the 50-year-old company his father founded since 1993, credits its diverse customer base with coping with the current climate.
“Our success and growth has really been about the mix of companies,” said Rockefeller. “That has held up [our business] stable.”
This mix includes hundreds of customers across a range of industries including lasers, military, communications, commercial equipment, medical, music and audio, and automotive.
Rockefeller offset declining demand for parts in certain sectors – such as aerospace – with big upswings in other industries over the past year. In fact, ACE saw significant growth in laser, medical, and commercial devices. Some customers tripled their orders to keep up with market demand. This has helped ACE close 2020 on nearly $ 10 million in revenue, which has increased fivefold during its 28 years of leadership, despite having no sales force or marketing team.
Rockefeller says its workforce and business have doubled in the past five years. Almost 80% of ACE's annual sales come from the top ten customers, the rest from hundreds of smaller customers.
According to Rockefeller, its success has been driven by its reputation and strategic investments in 3D printing technology systems, which have expanded the company's ability to design and prototype for customers.
“Our philosophy is customer-specific,” said Rockefeller, noting that customizing products to meet customer needs is a central part of ACE's business model.
That's because his company – and its 85 employees – make parts that customers can't find in a catalog.
“Maybe [the part] must operate at a higher temperature, under difficult conditions, or at an odd voltage, ”explained Rockefeller. “We use our knowledge and technology to help customers achieve what they want.”
Rockefeller sees his company less as a product-based and more as a service-oriented company.
“I don't market a product. the [end] The product belongs to my customer, ”said Rockefeller. “We do a lot of the work designing and testing a prototype and going through the entire process for a customer.”
Engineer Rockefeller has invested heavily in 3D printers in recent years in order to be able to build more prototypes in-house. This is a time-saving advantage for the company and an added value for the customers.
With its new $ 4 million eco-friendly manufacturing facility, in addition to the company's 13,000 square feet of manufacturing space, Rockefeller has created a new center of excellence to meet the needs of tech-savvy players in the medical and medical aerospace markets targeting are used to high-quality surfaces and a more sophisticated infrastructure than ACE before.
The new location was created with maximum flexibility for assembly line configurations.
“We're really a job shop, so we're constantly changing the assembly lines and jobs,” said Rockefeller.
To accommodate this, the new facility has power sources every 25 feet that employees can use to set up, dismantle, and combine multiple production lines to meet larger requirements.
This is welcome news for Concept2's Dwyer, who says ACE has been a great supporter of his company's growth while maintaining great quality and fair prices.
And with COVID-19 largely pulling people out of the home, there will likely be enough business to keep Concept2's exercise equipment, as well as ACE's coils and revenue, going for the foreseeable future.
Able Coil employees make precision wound coils, transformers and electrical assemblies.