For Stature Electric, good business has always started with becoming a client’s partner, regardless of whether the task involves product planning, designing a part, manufacturing or ensuring that each order is tops in quality. Indeed, it’s a business strategy that has served the company well since its founding in 1974.
Based in Watertown, N.Y., the company takes pride in producing quality electric motors, gear motors, electric brakes, gears, shafts, machine castings and accessories. Its biggest product line: motors for wheelchairs, according to President Randy James. In addition, the company’s products are commonly found in electric shopping carts, recreational vehicles, appliances and tools for the construction industry.
Specific parts the company produces include permanent magnet DC motors from 1/2 to 1 horsepower, which come in voltages from 12 to 220. Stature Electric’s Universal series AC brush-type motors range from 1/3 to 11/2 horsepower in voltages that range from 120 to 220. Also, the company supplies gear motors in both permanent magnet DC and Universal series versions. Brakes are also available, although they are primarily produced for the company’s own use; but electric off brakes are available for various applications. Although Stature Electric makes gears, shifts and machine castings for company use, they are also available as needed and can be produced to a customer’s design requirements or as discussed with the company.
While the company has a significant number of competitors, James says, Stature has managed to remain on top by its ability to read the market and various business trends. In today’s market, he says, the major trend is a demand for greater reactivity in production planning with a minimum of inventory. James says his company meets this demand by closely working with customers in developing a production-planning program to meet their specific needs. “This includes timely forecast review to ensure we have appropriate materials in process to meet customer needs,” he says.
As part of the company’s partner business strategy, Stature also works closely with a client’s production planners to develop a production and shipping program that is flexible enough to meet changing production demands. “We will help the client develop economical shipping quantities with logical pack sizes to improve transportation handling and to minimize counting errors. Whenever practical, the company uses a multilayered bulk pack in an easily managed size to help reduce package costs.”
James says the company’s mission is unlike others in that it does not have a standard product line. Rather, the company’s 128,000-square-foot plant in Watertown operates as a custom manufacturer of products that meet a given customer’s specifications. “This enforces the company’s need to become partners with each of our clients,” says James.
“The Watertown plant is state-of-the-art with all products produced under one roof. We offer state-of-the-art CNC equipment for machining castings, hobbing gears and producing shafts. Our continuous investment in capital equipment assures accuracy and efficiency in all components we manufacture,” James says, noting that “material flows through production in an efficient manner, allowing for reduced lead times, accurate inventories and on-time deliveries.”
What makes the company a popular supplier is not only the high-quality products it makes, but its commitment to customer service. “A highly trained staff is ready to provide accurate information on the production process, test results and delivery schedules,” James says. Again, the concept of client partner comes into play, he adds. The process of customization, he says, includes the capability of Stature’s engineers to work with a client to ensure that the final design is exactly what they need.
The client talks with a quality engineer to discuss quality requirements, he says, and speaks with the scheduling department about delivery dates. “This direct line of communication provides first-hand responses that result in high quality products and services,” James said.
This type of communication produces significant benefits including:
- A teaming of individual creative resources
- Greater accuracy in conveying ideas
- A shortened communication path that
- produces faster product development at all stages
- A more clear understanding of client goals and objectives
James adds that the company also likes to break with traditional thinking when it comes to customers. “Past convention within the industry often leads to the defining of client needs with the question, ‘What do you need?’” At Stature, he says, the question workers ask is “What do you want to accomplish?” This thinking often leads to creative solutions, he notes. “It has helped us develop a very loyal customer base.”
At Stature, the workers take pride in making sure quality is part of the partnership equation. Working with engineers and development professionals, the company strives for an early understanding of how the motor will be used by the customer. Consequently, motor design is tailored to meet the client’s specifications.
Any returned motors are subject to a complete review by the company’s quality control department, followed by a written report and recommended corrective action. Stature personnel then design corrective-action plans as part of the company’s commitment to producing an ever-improving product. “When problems are found that relate to application and use, we work closely with our customers on possible design change suggestions to resolve future problems,” says James.
“When we achieved registration of our quality system to ISO 9001 standards three years ago, we really capitalized on the quality mentality at Stature,” says James. Each employee takes pride in his or her role at Stature and “it is one more part of our partnering process.”