Ovation 2016: EXCELLENCE IN MANUFACTURING

Eric Jackson.

A UCBJ Special

Ovation trophies 7_2_2014

EXCELLENCE IN MANUFACTURING: Honoring innovation, environmental stewardship, quality work environments, corporate philanthropy/citizenship, and consistent or extraordinary growth.

 

Crossville Inc.
Crossville Inc.

CROSSVILLE INC. | CUMBERLAND COUNTY | 346 Sweeney Drive, Crossville (931) 484-2110

It’s a common saying: treat others the way you’d want to be treated. But it’s also a philosophy that Crossville Inc., a porcelain tile manufacturer and distributor, applies to both its customers and employees.

Customers, which range from tile distributors to national entities like McDonald’s, Wendy’s and General Motors, “consistently rate us as their top manufacturing partner because of our service,” said company President Greg Mather. And approximately 10 percent of the local workforce in Cumberland County – which tops 400 – has been there 25 years or more, “which says a lot,” he added, considering Crossville Inc. just celebrated its 30th year.

“We’ve got a strong set of values in place: family, partnership, respect, integrity and improvement,” Mather said. “We really use those as a lens to make decisions, which is not always easy, but it’s created a significant amount of long-term loyalty.”

Crossville Inc. was first to produce large format tile on site and the first to manufacture tile with certified recycled content, among other high-tech accomplishments. An emerging distribution business – Crossville Inc. has acquired three different distributors in different states, like Utah and Colorado, over the last seven months – has increased the size of the company by about 30 percent, Mather added. It now has company-owned distribution sites in 10 such states.

“The acquisition provides us the scale to grow the Crossville brand,” he said. “The acquisitions make us a bigger company than we’ve ever have been. We think the innovation we’re going to bring to market is going to continue to grow Crossville both on the manufacturing side as well as really incorporating our new acquisitions,” Mather added. “Put those two things together, we think we can really paint a good picture.”

 

MICRO METALS INC. | FENTRESS COUNTY | 1049 Owens Road, Jamestown (931) 879-9946

Micro Metals may be a little bit “off the beaten path” but it’s certainly a niche. Only 400 companies in the world, “do what we do,” said Scott Edwards, CEO. The company, a powder metallurgy industry leader, was founded 40 years ago, in 1976 by Carl Edwards, Scott’s father, who was drawn to Jamestown, Tennessee – over a location in Brownsville, Texas – because of its equitable access to natural gas.

Powder metallurgy – not to be confused with powder coating – is a manufacturing process for making gears, cams, sprockets and other multi-level parts. It starts with raw metal powder, which has the consistency of flour or sand. The powder is put into a mold, pressed and sent through a furnace to bond. About 80 percent of the parts made at Micro Metals end up in an automobile; from Ford pickups and Volkswagen cars.

Today, Micro Metals employs around 100 people, from toolmakers to engineers to accounting and marketing staff. Edwards said they’re on a steady growth curve and expect a roughly 20-percent gain over the next five years. They work out of a 65,000 square foot facility on Owens Road.

“Many people, when they come into our facility, because we’re not a shirt factory or a chicken plant or anything like that, it’s very eye-opening for them. It’s a small industry, but it’s highly technical,” he said. “We’ve set ourselves apart by focusing on the harder parts; things no one else wants to do. Because of that, we’re more people driven than our competitors.”

 

Eric Jackson.
Eric Jackson.

JACKSON KAYAK | WHITE COUNTY | 3300 McMinnville Highway, Sparta (931) 738-4800

To say Jackson Kayak had an eventful 2015 would certainly be an understatement. The company, which manufactures fishing kayaks, whitewater kayaks – and now a new line of coolers it claims betters a Yeti – announced major expansion plans last April. The $6.5 million project, which should create 250 new jobs in White County, was anchored with a move to new facility at 3300 McMinnville Highway. The move, while ongoing, started earlier this year, and given a steady state of growth and improvement, the company could be in flux for quite the foreseeable future.

“The move has been quite tough,” said Jackson Kayak President Eric Jackson. “But we are already starting to see efficiency improvements.”

Jackson Kayaks are high end – the most expensive on the market, he said, but also the most endowed and well equipped. Jackson is constantly creating new designs, which sets it apart from its competitors. And a new space means they’re more efficient. Jackson said they’ve improved labor costs by over 10 percent so far this year. The expansion also gives its new cooler line, Orion, room to breath. Jackson wants the brand to match the market share enjoyed by its kayak line, although that’s a lofty goal, he admits.

“Hopefully (in five to 10 years) we’ll be in the same place doing the same things but at a higher level,” he said. “We love making products here in Tennessee.”

 

ATC AUTOMATION | PUTNAM COUNTY | 101 Mill Drive, Cookeville (931) 528-5417

It’s the company that makes the machines that make the products we use in every day life. From headlamps to batteries to surgical equipment, Cookeville’s ATC Automation has had a hand in it all. And it’s seeing particularly strong growth.

ATC is continually hiring. They’re “always” looking for technical types, including control and mechanical engineers, said Tony Green, sales and marketing coordinator. The current staff sits at 225 people, a 22-percent increase since 2013. Bookings are pushing $80 million, up from $56 million over the same period.

And ATC also recently acquire two nearly smaller buildings for an extra 16,000 square feet in capacity. Additional growth and/or facilities are expected, Green said. He says that’s largely thanks to pent up demand for capital equipment stemming from the downturn in 2008-2009.

“It really went gangbusters, which is good for us because we’re the capital equipment suppliers,” Green said. “We’re still growing.”

Automotive makes up about 65 percent of its business – the company, for example, builds the machines that make Ford F-150 headlamps. But long term, Green says they’ll continue to grow in all three sectors: transportation, life sciences and consumer products/ energy. The company is looking to expand its global presence as well.

“When I started, we were at roughly $29 million and now we’re pushing $80 (million),” Green said.

“It’s a high-tech industry, and we do something – at least to our magnitude – that no one else does,” he added. “It gives you a feeling of prestige, to wok here, because of our clients. And we’re totally different than any other manufacturer in the area. It’s always something different, because we’re building custom machines. We very seldom build any two the same.”

 

SEE THE REST: Ovations 2016

Excellence in Tourism Promotion

Favorite Restaurant

Best Individual Citizen/Excellence in Business Leadership

Spirit of Entrepreneurship

Favorite Retail Establishment

Excellence in Professional Services