What type of employer is HGR? Buyer Spotlight with Rick Affrica

HGR Buyer Rick Affrica and family

When did you start with HGR, and why?

I started with HGR back when it all began – 1997.  I was presented with an offer to leave the company that I had been working with (along with 11 others) and be part of something new – something great.  So, I started with HGR, and we “Hit the Ground Running.”

What is your territory, and what do you do on a daily basis?

I do not have a territory.  My territory consists of anyone/anywhere who has surplus to sell!  I help manage the procurement of all that we sell.  What I do is twofold.  First, I manage seven of our regional buyers.  I work with them daily on making sure we get everything out of opportunities that are presented to our company.  The second part of what I do is to build and maintain relationships with larger corporations that continually have surplus equipment/material that they need to move.

What do you like most about your job?

It may sound cliché, but each day is different in that each opportunity we work on is different.  Every deal we work on has its challenges and issues that need to be resolved.  My job is to figure out options and look for ways we can achieve the goals of not only HGR, but that of our customer, as well.

What’s your greatest challenge?

Working remotely with each of our buyers and our consignment partners.  Technology has certainly helped with managing and making things much easier to review.  The challenge is working remotely and not seeing firsthand what exactly the issues are that need to be resolved.  The best way to overcome this challenge is to jump in the car or on a plane and go meet personally to help overcome the challenge.  Travel, in and of itself, can be a challenge.

What’s your most interesting moment at HGR?

This is a loaded question.  Probably best to keep this to a conversation over a beer after hours one day.  Keep in mind, I work with the Buy Group.  It is made up of a cast of characters.  There are some interesting stories to tell!

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

All things related to my family. I am very lucky in that I have a great wife and awesome kids.  As my kids have gotten older, my wife and I realize that we need to do whatever we can with the time we have and enjoy our time together.  With my schedule, I do miss out on things.  My kids understand this, but they know I make every effort possible to spend time with them. Everything else is secondary.

What else should we know about you?

As stated above, I have worked with HGR since Day 1.  I started out as one of our regional buyers and moved into management/ownership a few years later.  My wife and I have now been married for 22 years and have two kids.  My son is 17, is a senior in high school, and is working on figuring out his next step in life – where to attend college.  My daughter is 13 and is in the eighth grade. They both are very active in school and various activities.  For those who do not know, I live in the Great State of Michigan.  For you Buckeyes, do not worry. I am not a fan of that team out of Ann Arbor (NOT a fan at all!).  I do live about 45 minutes north of Ann Arbor, but that is really my only association with the school that resides there!

Anything I missed that you want folks to know?

I want all at HGR to know that I certainly appreciate all that they do to make HGR a success.  I am not at HGR’s Euclid office often, but, rest assured, I hear about and take notice of the great things they do to make HGR a success.

Fourth-generation metalworking shop works to generate student interest in manufacturing careers

Beverage Machine & Fabricators machined part
Part (convector plate) before machining
Beverage Machine & Fabricators part being machined
Part during machining
Beverage machine & fabricators finished machined part
Part after machining

In 1904, George Hewlett founded Cleveland Union Engineering Company in Cleveland’s Flats area. The company handled industrial metal manufacturing, welding, fabrication and steel erection. Hewlett’s daughter married John Geiger, who is the grandfather of the current owner, also John Geiger, and great-grandfather of Jake who also works for the company. In the 1920s, it began to develop and build equipment for the distillery and brewing industries to clean and pasturize milk jugs and beer bottles, hence a name change to Beverage Engineering. In the 1940s, it moved to its current location on Lakewood Heights Boulevard and transitioned its focus from beverage machines to machining for the war effort, and in 1957 it found its current incarnation as Beverage Machine & Fabricators, Inc. What do these changes signify? Adaptability! And, Beverage Machine has found its niche.

Though the company no longer is part of the beverage machine industry, it has continued its journey in the metalworking industry and now machines (cuts or finishes) hard-to-machine metal parts made from inconel, monel, stainless steel and titanium. It also has larger machines that can handle bigger, heavier pieces (up to 10 feet in diameter and 24,000 pounds) for the steel, energy, power, mining, nuclear, aerospace and defense industries. For example, it did a project for SpaceX last year, a company that designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. Beverage Machine also only handles one-off pieces and smaller orders rather than high-volume production. Its orders range from one to 25 pieces at a time. Five years ago, it added waterjet cutting to its capability, which broke the company out of traditional metal machining. Using the waterjet, the company has done work for sign and glass companies and machined the glass awards for last year’s Tri-C JazzFest. With one piece of equipment, it expanded capacity and its customer base.

All of Beverage Machine’s customers are regional, and they are served by only 16 employees. The company mainly employees machinists and is looking to and is willing to train a suitable candidate. Josh Smith, Beverage Machine’s waterjet technician, says that the impact on today’s labor problem started years ago when schools did away with shop programs and put the focus on college prep. He’s worked for the company for 16 years, and his dad has been the plant manager for 25 years. He says, “When I went to school, the perception was that JVS [joint vocational school] was where the stoners and illiterates went and that everyone who can think goes to college.” He says that in five years everyone in the industry will be retiring, and there’s going to be a shortage of skilled labor. He adds that the industry has to reach students when they are 11 or 12 to show them that jobs in manufacturing are cool and innovative. To that end, he has started “ThinkSpark,” a grassroots movement to create a foundation in Lorain County to inspire and mentor youth to consider careers in manufacturing, to partner with schools and connect children with technical programs, to develop a makerspace for youth in the program, and to create a robotic competition similar to AWT’s RoboBots that takes place every April at Lakeland Community College.

John Geiger relates that the manufacturing industry in the area is healthy, but that his biggest challenge, which is the same for all manufacturers, is finding skilled labor or even unskilled labor who are interested in technical training. Recently, he met with representatives from Lorain County Community College about bringing students in for an apprenticeship training program.

From Founder John Geiger to his son, John Geiger, a machinist, to his son, John Geiger, a history major and sales specialist, to his son, John, aka Jake, Geiger, a business management major, the company has stayed in the hands of this capable family for four generations. John says about his business, “There is enough domestic need, and our niche gives us enough work. China can’t serve these industries because customers have a part dependency and need it today.” He shares, “I get satisfaction in seeing what we create every day. It’s a tangible result.” His son, Jake, adds, “It’s rewarding to have a part come in and see the finished part leave the shop.” As Josh Smith sums up, “What sets John apart is that he can see the greater good and a need. He sees what we can do for the next generation. It’s not about making money. It’s about family.

Beverage Machine & Fabricators shop with gantry crane
One of two shops and the gantry crane used to lift heavy parts

 

City of Euclid accepts proposals from potential buyers for buildings

City of Euclid building for sale

The City of Euclid is accepting proposals from potential buyers for the buildings at 19770 St. Clair Ave.  They would be a perfect fit for a small manufacturer/maker that also wants a retail storefront. For more information and to submit a proposal, click here.

Euclid plant manufactures components for naval nuclear reactors

U.S. Navy submarine
(courtesy of the U.S. Navy): A Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered fast attack submarine heads out to sea after a brief port visit in Greece.

 

(An interview with Doug Paulson, general manager, BWX Technologies, Euclid, Ohio)

Tell me about how your business started.

BWX Technologies, Inc. (BWXT) traces its history all the way back to the 1850s when Stephen Wilcox patented the water tube boiler. Almost 100 years later, with the advent of nuclear energy, our expertise in the power generation business put us at the forefront of commercial and government nuclear industries. Operating for many years as the Babcock & Wilcox Company, we spun off our power generation business in 2015 to allow BWXT to focus on government and nuclear operations.

Why was the decision made to locate in Euclid?

BWXT purchased the Euclid operations from an offshoot of TRW in 2007. TRW’s predecessors have been in the Cleveland area since the early 1900s and here on Euclid Avenue since before World War II.

How are the products that you manufacture used?

BWXT’s Euclid site manufactures electro-mechanical components for naval nuclear reactors used in submarines and aircraft carriers.

For more than 60 years, the Navy’s submarines and aircraft carriers have safely steamed millions of miles using components manufactured by BWXT Nuclear Operations Group facilities – a track record that is highlighted by our commitment to safety, quality and integrity.

How many employees work in the facility in Euclid, and what kind of skilled labor do you hire?

About 350 employees work at our Euclid facility. Due to the high-consequence nature of our products, most of our employees are considered to be highly skilled. We employ machinists, welders, inspectors, engineers and a variety of professional support staff.

Are there ways that the company participates in the community?

We support the community through sponsorship of Euclid Chamber of Commerce events and contribute to a number of deserving charitable organizations in the community such as the United Way.

What do you think is the biggest challenge that manufacturing currently faces?

The retirement of the older generation of trade workers has, in many cases, left manufacturers with more openings than there are qualified and available employees. This is exacerbated by generally low unemployment. We have an advantage in that our factories have industry-leading safety records and that our work is especially meaningful. Our employees take tremendous pride in the fact that our products keep our sailors and our nation safe. These jobs pay well and do not require tens of thousands of dollars in student loans, so attitudes about trades and technical careers are changing quickly. Our schools and community colleges are helping us narrow the gap.

What does the future of manufacturing, especially in Northeast Ohio, look like?

We can only speak for ourselves. This is an exciting time to work for BWXT. BWXT’s Nuclear Operations Group, which includes our Euclid and Barberton manufacturing facilities, has reported record revenues each quarter for the last few years. The Nuclear Operations Group had a backlog of nearly $3 billion at the end of September. Our fourth quarter and full-year 2017 results are scheduled to be announced Feb. 28, 2018.

What inspires you?

Our products enable our sailors to carry out their mission to keep our nation safe. We keep those customers in the forefront of our minds in everything we do.

Are there interesting facts about you or your business that most people don’t know?

In August 2017, NASA awarded the company an $18.8 million contract to start designing a Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) reactor in support of a possible future manned mission to Mars. With NTP technology’s high-energy density and resulting spacecraft thrust, NASA is projecting up to a 50 percent reduction in interplanetary travel times compared to chemical rockets, significantly increasing the crew’s safety by reducing exposure to cosmic radiation.

U.S. Navy U.S.S. George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier
(courtesy of the U.S. Navy): The aircraft carrier U.S.S. George H.W. Bush underway from its home port in Norfolk, Va.

Amazon brings 1,000 jobs to Northeast Ohio

Euclid Chamber of Commerce Amazon luncheon

Euclid Chamber of Commerce Amazon luncheon

On Jan. 31, a full house was gathered at Tizzano’s Party Center to hear the Euclid Chamber of Commerce’s presentation of “The Amazon Story” that included Amazon’s plan to tear down the former Euclid Square Mall and build a 655,000-square-foot, $175-million fulfillment center, which will add 1,000 new jobs to the region.

Mayor Kirsten Holzheimer Gail at Euclid Chamber of Commerce Amazon luncheonEuclid Mayor Kirsten Holzheimer Gail mentioned that the initial meeting in March 2017 at Cuyahoga Community College to discuss the project was the most memorable day during her time as mayor. After that initial meeting, there were ongoing efforts to rezone the property and to secure $1.2 million from the Ohio Department of Transportation toward roadway improvements.

The next speaker, Matt Deptola of JobsOhio, a nonprofit corporation that promotes job creation and economic development for Ohio, shared his organization’s enthusiasm about Deptola of JobsOhio at Euclid Chamber of Commerce Amazon luncheonthe reputation of Ohio as a great place to live, according to Forbes and other magazines. He also shared some interesting statistics about Amazon. It currently transfers items from its regional fulfillment centers to a nearby sortation facility to a shipping facility within seven hours. Currently, Amazon has a sortation facility in Twinsburg and a shipping facility in Euclid; so, the fulfillment center in Euclid makes perfect sense. Amazon currently employs 6,000 people in Ohio. Additionally, Amazon offers $12,000 of tuition reimbursement for training in high-demand fields after one year of employment, benefits on Day 1, and an average hourly rate of $13.

DiSalvo Euclid Chamber of Commerce Amazon luncheonPete DiSalvo with DiSalvo Development Advisors was the final speaker before the mayor returned to the mic to share that Amazon already has made a commitment to the community by giving $10,000 to the HELP Foundation, a Euclid business that empowers individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities through residential, day support, vocational, and summer education programs.

Be there to hear the 2018 NEO Manufacturing Survey results

MAGNET logo

Join other manufacturers on Feb. 14, 2018, from 8-9:30 a.m. at Crown Plaza Cleveland South – Independence when MAGNET: Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network unveils its 2018 Northeast Ohio Manufacturing Survey Results.

More than 400 manufacturing companies submitted more than 450 responses, and the results are in. MAGNET and its partners – Bank of America, Skoda Minotti, WIRE-Net and Oswald Companies – will break down the results of the survey over breakfast.

We’ll be there! Will you? Register here.

 

Who is John Miller, and what’s this about an auction?

auction gavel

 

HGR Buyer John MillerLike the old Donny & Marie song “A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock ‘n Roll,” John Miller, one of HGR’s buyers who is located in St. Louis, Missouri, is a little bit sales, a little bit buyer. He works with both HGR’s Sales Department and Buy Department to bring in leads for brokerage equipment that we can sell through our website and those leads that we can auction. So, his position is unique because the items that he brokers are not rigged out to HGR’s Euclid, Ohio, showroom.

How did John make his way to HGR, and what is his experience? Well, prior to working for HGR, he worked in the industrial auction and machinery sales field. He has a longstanding relationship with HGR on the client side. He sold equipment to HGR’s regional buyers in the past, which is how he developed a relationship with HGR prior to coming on board as an employee.

Prior to John coming on board in February 2016, HGR occasionally participated in auctions with its auctioneer partners, but now there’s a focus on the opportunities and on getting the business. Miller says, “We most often partner with Cincinnati Industrial Auctioneers because they’re the top in the area for what they usually sell and what we usually sell. It’s a complimentary relationship that benefits both of our customers because our combined list of buyers and interested customers compliments each other.” HGR’s role in the auction process is to bring in leads for potential auctions and conduct the marketing for upcoming auctions through its website, email list and social media. Miller says, “We partner on six or seven auctions each year in the U.S. and Canada, and our goal is a couple of auctions per quarter. Nine times out of 10 the auction is being held because a plant closed.”

John’s auction leads often come from HGR’s buyers who are out in the field and may decide the situation is not a buy deal but rather an auction situation, and from HGR’s established relationships and contacts. He notes, “These auctions add to our value proposition for both customers that we buy from and customers that we sell to because we can either get things out of their plant immediately and into our showroom or maximize the value of the items by selling them from the factory floor at auction when moving them is not viable because would reduce the value. Auctions have been on the uptake for valuation recently.”

Here is a link to HGR’s next online and in-person auction of the assets from the former Allison Conveyor Engineering at 120 Mine St., Allison, Penn. This auction on Dec. 19 includes bridge mills, plasma tables, fabricating and welding equipment, CNC machining, and toolroom and support equipment.

If you need further information about the auction process or have an auction lead, please contact John Miller at 636-222-0098 or Jmiller@hgrinc.com.