Laurie Ramirez looks at the emphasis on communication with customers that has made Avibank a unique force in the fasteners marketplace.
Avibank Manufacturing, Inc., is an atypical fastener resource. Unlike much of its competition, says David Ladin, sales and marketing manager, “we don’t go after orders of 10 million fasteners. We’ll make any quantity, no matter how small. We go for the specials.”
This is a radical strategy for a maker of pins, bolts, struts, rods, latches and panel fasteners. But Avibank has made it the company’s focus. Its mission statement commits the company “to become integral partners — not just a service to their customers, but an extension to their engineering and manufacturing facilities. At Avibank, we realize that our customer’s applications and product needs are usually unique to them, and we use our experience and capability to develop designs that meet these unique requirements.”
In its locations in Burbank and North Hollywood, Calif., Avibank designs, develops and manufactures multiple-component mechanisms and sophisticated fasteners to individual application requirements. Describing the company’s approach, Ladin says, “We go to our customers to find out what kind of fastener they need, design it and build it.” Simple as that.
Avibank’s strength in the market derives from the fact that each individual manufacturer has unique fastening needs. The company orients its design, manufacturing and test functions so that it can meet the needs of any company. Any company. Avibank takes it as far as challenging customers to let it take care of their manufacturing, design and testing specifications; its Web site even includes an application for service. It’s impressive that this company meets this challenge considering the wide range of its customer base. Avibank’s clientele includes, but is not limited to, OEMs in the aircraft/aerospace, medical equipment, communications, marine, automotive, agricultural machinery, food-processing equipment, railway/rapid transit and computer industries, and the military.
Avibank meets this challenge because of its belief that as long as lines of communication are open, the company’s staff is more likely to get to the bottom of a customer’s specific needs and manufacturing goals. Avibank thrives on this contact and the resulting partnerships with customers. In the near future, the company’s Web site, www.Avibank.com, will provide the capability for customers to send both feedback and correspondence, along with its parts- and services-ordering functions.
Avibank’s product line includes adjustable-diameter fasteners, panel fasteners, quick-release pins, self-retaining bolts, struts/rods, latches and keepers. All of these items are available as both standard products and in customized configurations.
Founded in 1945, the company also includes a sister operation, AVK Industrial Products, which was formed in 1983 and produces threaded inserts. Both entities were acquired by SPS Technologies in a purchase that closed last year. Avibank is now an SPS subsidiary, part of the parent’s Aerospace Fastener Group. AVK will become part of SPS’ Automobile Division. In February of this year, SPS also acquired Textron UK’s quick-release pin line, a deal that augments Avibank’s quick-release pin program. Another recent development is the company’s CF panel fastener, which offers a groundbreaking combination of both a panel fastener with an adjustable fastener.
Structure for Growth
Avibank’s Burbank and North Hollywood plants total 225,000 square feet of manufacturing space. The AVK location in nearby Valencia encompasses 100,000 square feet of production, inventory and office space. The SPS acquisition has led to the relocation of Avibank’s sales and engineering departments and other administrative areas to North Hollywood. Down the road, the company’s Burbank assembly operation of Ball-Lok® pins will probably also move to the North Hollywood plant. The Burbank plant, meanwhile, will become a complete research and development division for SPS. “Moving the Ball-Lok® assembly will give us better control over shipping,” Ladin adds.
The formation of the R&D division is a point of particular pride for Avibank. “When SPS purchased us, they didn’t realize how good we were in R&D,” Ladin says. “But our design department is designing new products day to day, probably working on 200 new designs at any one time. They’ve now entrusted the R&D division project entirely with us.”
Not content to be just a link on the Avibank site, AVK has a Web presence of its own at www.avkindustrial.com. The site provides customers the same detailed look into the division as is found on the Avibank site, plus the ability to order specialized parts and communicate through several means with the AVK staff.
Keeping It Together
Avibank’s reputation in the market is a longstanding one, and SPS has taken steps to maintain what its new property developed over more than five decades in business. Dennis Arnold, Avibank’s vice president of sales, was promoted to president; and John Duran, vice president of engineering, became vice president of engineering, research and development. Both Arnold and Duran have been with Avibank for more than 40 years each. Avibank’s employees include many with a long term of service with the company; as Ladin puts it, “We all grew up with the company.”
Avibank’s near future promises even more growth, of the business kind. The CF panel fastener presents one opportunity; it was introduced two years ago and is still in the process of being refined. The military stands as another area for potential growth. “We’re closely involved with Boeing and Airbus,” says Ladin. “Our latch line is growing, and is growing with them. Also, we see old and new opportunities for the Ball-Lok® quick-release pin and self-retaining bolts in flight control systems.”
For these and other possibilities, Avibank’s relationship with SPS will prove crucial. When the acquisition was announced, both firms stressed their joint commitment to providing the best product for their customers’ fastening needs. With Avibank’s experience and emphasis on communication, customers know they have a team they can count on.