U.S. manufacturers have had it hard enough fending off competition from foreign producers who promise to do cheaper, faster work. Then came the 2008 recession that dealt many a death blow. But some American factories have managed to survive these twin threats. Essential Sealing Products is one example. Thanks to continual innovation, a commitment to best practices and some hard choices, the specialized parts supplier rode out the 2008 recession and is thriving with locations in Chagrin Falls, Ohio and Burns Harbor, Ind. and a diverse list of clients that includes the steel, appliance, chemical, food packing, railroad and other industries.
“There is still a place for USA-made items, as long as we keep up with all the important issues of on-time, fair price, exceptional quality and unmatched service,” says CEO Susan Pyle. Incidentally, Pyle began working in the company’s office in 1974 and rotated through nearly every department before buying the company in 1993. “I am positive that having the opportunity to work in every aspect of this environment was the key for me to actually see what was needed to move forward” during the rough economic times, Pyle adds.
In 2009, Pyle wanted to refinance. She had plenty of equity in Essential’s 11-year-old building, and interest rates were down. She planned to reduce her mortgage payment, pay down vendors and refurbish some equipment.
“Going to banks was a shocker,” Pyle said. “They were not lending.” Finally, she found a lending specialist who put her loan request on BoeFly, an online small business lending marketplace. “We had six responses–and they made proposals to me,” Pyle says. “We wound up with a bank in Wisconsin that saw what we saw.” The refinance saved her some $200,000 a year in interest.
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