The Webster leadership team has committed to addressing the needs of our business growth the last few years in three ways: the acquisition of ACTION Vibratory Equipment in 2021, the closing of the foundry and repurposing employees into the chain and sprocket side of our business, and an emphasis on operational excellence.
Each of these changes, while major, were not entered into lightly. “The closing of the foundry was one of the hardest decisions we had to make as a company,” shared Dean Bogner, Executive Vice President of Webster. “It’s been around since 1907, so choosing to close them was a big deal for us.”
Webster has seen substantial business growth in chain and sprocket products, which make up 80-85% of our work. The pace of business demand continued to increase during 2019 and 2020, and the existing workforce in the chain and sprocket divisions struggled to keep up.
“We decided the 30 people in the foundry would be better served making chains and sprockets for us,” Bogner said. The President of Webster met one-on-one with each of the foundry team members to discuss where they wanted to work, what they wanted to do in that department, and how they could get the skill sets they needed to feel ready to go and confident in that job.
“We don’t want to have anyone feel like they have no foundation before they move over,” said Bogner. About 25 of the 30 foundry employees have chosen to stay on with Webster. The foundry is still in its final stages of closing down, with an anticipated final closing date of the end of April.
The ACTION acquisition began in 2019 and continued through 2021. Once the acquisition of ACTION was finalized, it allowed Webster to shift portions of Tiffin’s vibrating coil spring business segment to ACTION. This freed up workspace in our sheet metal department, both on the floor and with our engineers, as ACTION took on both the design and manufacturing of this product segment.
ACTION specializes in the engineered design, welding, and assembly of vibrating conveyors and large vibrating process equipment. It is specifically designed for optimum manufacturing and flow of vibratory equipment. ACTION’s team are experts in screening and separating materials which help end-users maximize profits during their operations.
Not only did this acquisition allow Webster-Tiffin other manufacturing focus, but the promotion of Shawn Shriver to Product Manager over the ACTION offering also gives Webster increased sales, service, and engineering support. Webster’s sales, distribution, and OEM network allows Webster to expand our offering of superior vibrating equipment to new and current markets. ACTION’s superior service, solutions-based design, exceptional quality, and innovative engineering compliments Webster’s mission very well.
Now that this portion of our business is being designed, engineered, and manufactured by ACTION (which operates as a division of Webster), our engineers and sales team members have more time to focus on providing excellent customer service in other focus areas.
Webster recently hired Denny Doren as Vice President of Operational Excellence. His goal is to increase throughput and efficiency across the company, helping people work more strategically and efficiently. These efforts won’t demand more from employees; instead, lean initiatives increase capacity and make everyone’s job easier.
Internal teams are working diligently to correct bottlenecks, improve scheduling, enhanced quality checks and using valuable data to make informed decisions. The right amount of people, future planning and improved standardization are key pieces to the success of the organization. Benchmarks and best practices are being created to take Webster’s service and quality to new heights.
These three changes mean a renewed commitment to what matters most to us: manufacturing the highest quality product, with the best delivery, and the best service. The increased demand for our products is a happy problem to have, one that still requires attention.
Today, our emphasis is on returning our business to number one in customer service and delivery. There has been such a high demand for our products over the last few years, that while we’ve been able to maintain status as number one in quality, our position as an industry leader in these other areas has dropped due to longer lead times and the natural constraints on our employees who are working so hard to fulfill orders.
“We have always been laser-focused on safety and quality,” Bogner said. Historically, Webster has kept its full production in-house so that it has complete control over quality.
Our lead times and stock inventories have been impacted by the increase in demand as well. With the transition of foundry workers into other departments, Webster will be able to increase its control and get back to its high expectations for quality service once more. Our business development manager of distribution, Kate Tiell, and our business development manager of OEMs, Becky Hartman, have been charged with increasing attention to service and understanding our customer needs even better than before.
“We want to have the right product in the right place at the right time,” Bogner said.
These two alongside Sam Bohanan, our product manager for sprockets — will work to complement operational excellence with sales initiative. Bohanan was formerly the product manager for the foundry; now he steps into managing our largest growth potential product line. We aim to increase sprocket production by 50% from 2021 to 2022.
Webster had a record year in 2021 and looks to have another record year in 2022. With our backlog triple what it normally is right now, all we need now are more workers to help us get the work done.
If you want to join the growth and be a part of the success at Webster Industries, browse our open positions. We are committed to helping our employees learn the skills they need to be in the positions they want.« Back to Blog