Growth Manufacturers Case Studies
Lean Training and ISO Certification Lead to Market Expansion for Vaccon
By Kathie Mahoney, Marketing & Administration Director, MassMEP
"Even relatively small investments at the right juncture in technology development and transition can make a huge impact in commercialization results. This was clearly the case for us. Very high marks to MassMEP." — Ellen Ferri, President
Vaccon (Medway, MA) was founded in 1972 by Dick Ferri, who combined his aeronautical engineering degree and work experience to develop his first vacuum pump product line. The company name was then created from a combination of "vacuum" and "conveying." Since then, Vaccon has manufactured pumps that are designed to operate in most any environment without filters and never lose suction. The simple, no-moving-parts design means they never wear out, never clog, and their maintenance-free operation provides high productivity.
Customer satisfaction is Vaccon's number one priority. The company prides itself on providing free technical support and application assistance. Whether it is the beginning of the design stage or troubleshooting a competitor's mistake, Vaccon will find the best solution to solve the problem. Working in collaboration with customers, Vaccon will modify standard products or custom design new ones to meet any size, shape, material, or performance range and at any quantity. In-house manufacturing and quality assurance means clients get what they need and the product performs as promised. If a client is not 100% satisfied with the output, Vaccon will make it right.
Situation: The Need to Expand into New Markets
Ellen Ferri, Vaccon President, knew Vaccon needed to expand into new markets and improve their processes in order to grow the company. Customers were asking if the company was ISO certified. She knew it was only a matter of time before Vaccon began to lose business because they were not.
Ferri knew from past experience that ISO certification would also help them improve their work procedures. The time to act was now and she immediately reached out to MassMEP to provide Vaccon with the strategic guidance and direction required to grow.
Solution: ISO Certification
MassMEP Project Manager Mike Thompson had worked at Vaccon prior to joining MassMEP and Ellen had worked with him, so she made the call. Since Vaccon has gone through the MassMEP training, they have been purchased by Bimba and shortly after, Bimba was purchased by IMI. Vaccon is now part of a larger international company and can distribute their products globally.
The training with MassMEP involved the entire organization and as a result, Vaccon has seen improvements throughout the organization — from the front desk to the shipping department. MassMEP conducted Principles of Lean Training, ISO Certification, and a redesign of the plant layout.
During the plant layout session, MassMEP improved the flow of the product through production and worked with the employees to redesign the shop floor. As a result of the redesigned plant layout, travel time of the product was reduced by 19%.
A safety plan that was implemented increased the preventative maintenance on the machines, opened up space on the shop floor, and improved their fire safety audits.
Once Vaccon completed the ISO certification, new marketing opportunities were available and the certification also validated their quality systems. The certification also provided Vaccon with company-wide work procedures for everyone to know and follow. These new procedures are currently being used as training tools for new staff and up-skilling current employees.
Since they are constantly designing more products and changing within the engineering department, the work procedures provide a base for them to monitor costs and be more disciplined regarding business practices.
The training empowered the employees to start asking the questions "why" and taking on their own improvements within the organization.
- Cost Savings – $75,000
- Increased Jobs – 2
- Increased/Retained Sales – $600,000
- New Investment – $129,000
- New Markets – adhesive market for Department of Defense
- New Products – adhesive product being tested by the Department of Defense