How to Succeed in Manufacturing Over and Over Again
Updated: May 18, 2021
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Who is Chuck Pisciotta?
Chuck Pisciotta became one of the youngest partners at Anderson Consulting, now known as Accenture, at age 32. He was a partner that brought the company public. As a Fortune Global 500 company, it reported revenues of $11.4 billion, 500,000 employees and clients in 40 industries in 2019.
Chuck spent his time focused in the manufacturing industry for 40 years, and specializing in reorganizing companies’ operations to increase profitability.
He later retired and became a founding shareholder of Laserflex. It started with one laser in two locations and increased operations to 30 lasers, along with several departments like painting and machining.
Chuck sold it to Ryerson Steel in 2017, with $25+ million revenue per year.
One of the biggest focuses to support growth included bringing operations in-house when seeing that outsourcing in one area became too heavily weighted. This included creating a paint department. Another focus was reinvesting the money into the company, itself, to purchase more lasers rather than pulling money out for investors.
He sees insourcing and reinvesting as similar priorities for Valence IndustrialTM.
How Valence started
“I wanted a regional company that would allow us to service customers in a 500-mile area. I also wanted short and long run production capabilities where consultative, customized engineering and precision manufacturing were the hallmarks of the company,” Chuck said.
While the factory in Sidney, Ohio does quite a bit of long-run work, the Lexington, Kentucky location focuses in on 50-300-part short runs which creates the perfect marriage of capabilities.
According to Chuck,“When I retired, I didn’t need to go back to work. I came back because of how much I love manufacturing. I wanted to find companies to invest in that were well run, with people of good principle—and focus on hiring more people in a community I loved growing up in.”
But why these two specific factories and not others?
Chuck was actively searching for two factories that were well-run. He was intent on finding companies where the owners were mature in their careers, and looking to bring the next generation up in their factories.
Mike Bales, the founding owner of the Sidney factory, was born and raised in Sidney, Ohio.
He made an impression on Chuck.
He told stories that brought to life his intimate knowledge of customers. For one customer, he knew the CEO all the way down to those in the purchasing department. He even knew the people on the factory floor. He could tell you stories about everyone – what they cared about, their personal stories and their expectations for the product's application and quality.
In a cut-throat business like fabrication and manufacturing, knowing your customers better than anyone else is what pushes you to the top. Terry Griner was an investor of the Sidney factory as well. He shared his deep connections in the community and the customers that he served.
With James Buck, the owner of the Lexington factory, you could tell he was a man of character right out of the gate.
He ran his shop with such precision and focus.
He told stories of how he started in a large company managing a business unit, but when he had to invest in landscaping while laying people off, he knew that he needed to start a different kind of company. His employees say that James would rather be on the floor alongside the other guys creating something rather than in the office.
That’s the kind of passion for people and precision that you can’t make up.
Chuck’s history in Sidney, Ohio
Sidney is where Valence has its long-run manufacturing capabilities, with factory space larger than a football field.
Chuck’s father moved his family from Rockford, Illinois to Piqua, Ohio just 10 minutes from Sidney, when Chuck was in high school. Chuck actually went to Lehman Catholic High School, two miles away from the Sidney factory.
“Piqua was a great place to grow up. I then went to Miami University (Oxford) and came home many times to see my friends in Piqua and Sidney. I still maintain friendships. I used to go down to Cassano’s Pizza. And in those days, I was 18 and could drink beer with my friends,” according to Chuck.
Chuck worked in his father’s factory for four years in high school and college, Perfecto Industries, in Piqua. They were a major supplier of stamp press feeding machines. Nidec Minster was their number one customer. “I worked all over the factory – on the shop floor assembly, in the paint department and stock room,” Chuck said.
“My father was the general manager. Because he was off the boat from Italy, he would talk over the speaker and no one would understand him because of his thick accent. The guys would come to me and ask what he said over the loudspeaker, and I’d have to translate,” according to Chuck.
“My dad reinforced that feeling of responsibility to the people that you serve as a leader and helping to drive people to find solutions without telling them how to do their job.”
The values that Chuck's dad instilled in him come through in Valence's values. See more about Valence's values.
Chuck’s first steps after purchasing the factories
When he purchased the companies in September, 2020, Chuck immediately wanted to modernize operations and get people focused on communicating differently. He installed all new IT and computers, upgraded the inventory system to be cloud-based; along with a big emphasis on digital marketing.
“In manufacturing, the guys on the floor see it as an art form. It also needs to be an art form of how we communicate these innovations to customers."
Chuck went on to say, "That’s why I have such a big focus on digital marketing and interacting with customers virtually. COVID isn’t what drives this decision. It is how our customers interact on a daily basis that drives it and how we’ll lead the pack."
Why Chuck expects significant growth in Sidney & Lexington
Common characteristics Chuck picks up on of people working at the factory in Sidney and Lexington include loyalty, grit and respect for their employees.
“I take it very seriously and purposefully that we need to hire people, expand and give people a future in the local community,” according to Chuck.
He went on to say, “Someone who embodies our values is Chuck Warner, who is moving into the general manager role. He’s smart, cares about his people and is very humble. He knows every aspect of the operation, coming up as a welder. He made welding an art form.
Rich Barker, in the Lexington factory, works tirelessly. He was a general manager in a past life. He now lives and breaths the nuances of being a fabricator and machining shop tied into one specialty. He was our sales leader before being promoted into this role.”
“Find someone who cares more about their people and I’d tell you that you didn’t spend enough time with these two guys,” Chuck said.