Partnering with employees, customers, and vendors is how Watteredge, Inc. is expanding its core business into industries previously not considered a central part of its operation just a few short years ago. Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, Watteredge, Inc. is the world leading manufacturer of resistance welding cables and secondary connectors among a wide variety of custom engineered products.
The company also manufactures engineered furnace secondary power connectors, bus bar systems, laminated shunts, water-cooled power cables, high current DC switches, industrial rubber hose and tubing while serving the steel, chemical, chlorine, power generation, fiberglass and automotive industries.
A number of components are needed to perform proper resistance welding and resistance welding cables are easily overlooked by the more glamorous pieces like transformers, controls, and the welding unit. Resistance welding cables, also known as secondary cables, play a critical part in the resistance welding process.
But it’s the custom engineered products portion of the business that is moving it into uncharted territories. By partnering with key customers, Watteredge is better able to not only deliver the types of products customers’ desire but uncover opportunities waiting to be solved.
Bob LaRussa, vice president of marketing, says the company strives to be a part of its key customers’ processes to better their needs. He says a large portion of the company’s business comes from a small portion of the customer base. The approach is to be so fully integrated that Watteredge becomes more valuable to the customer.
“We want to partner with our customers, not just be the supplier,” he says. “By being part of their process we can see opportunities that we may not have thought of in the past but can fulfill.” Without giving away company secrets, LaRussa says that philosophy paid off royally a few years back when working with a smaller customer that did not fall within typical “key account” status. As a result, Watteredge began offering specialty hoses and tubing that would not immediately come to mind when thinking about resistance welding. The company pursued the “out-of-thebox” concept and now expanded its customer base to include industries like food processing (FDA grades); air and water; chemical and acid; marine hose (approved by the United States Coast Guard); material handling, plus many other specialty applications.
Watteredge manufactures these made to order specialty industrial hoses and tubing in a variety of materials to meet customer demands. The division called Watteredge Industrial Hose and Tubing, is housed in Granby, Quebec, Canada and its products are distributed in the United States exclusively through industrial distributors. Watteredge will work through the industrial distributor network and with original equipment manufacturers to determine the material and construction best suited for each customer’s requirements.
STARTING WITH THE BOSS
Partnering with customers and suppliers stems from a long-standing tradition emanating from the company’s mission statement. The end-game is to meet every customer’s requirements every day on every order. To achieve this effort the company’s current owners – brothers Joe and Ed Langhenry Jr – have developed a “supportive, community-conscious corporate environment that encourages innovation, efficiency, intelligence, teamwork respect, and commitment.” Those platitudes are directed to customers and employees.
Conscious Business is a term used to describe a business enterprise that seeks to be aware of the effects of its actions, and to consciously affect human beings and the environment in a beneficial way. Conscious Business also refers to a movement towards “Values based” economic value, where “Values” represent social and environmental concerns globally as well as locally.
The brothers put their money where their mouth is in this regard. According to LaRussa, the siblings try to visit and talk to each of the 115 employees once a week. By the end of the week, the brothers would have spoken to all employees.
This hands-on, caring approach fosters a community the Langhenrys believe is the cornerstone of building a successful company. And LaRussa says it doesn’t stop with the brothers. He said all management employees have directives to be integrally involved.
Valuing each employee’s contribution to the business also extends to valuing the input of customers. This quality management approach ensures all activities necessary to design, develop and implement a product or service is effective and efficient with respect to the system and its performance. This brings focus not only on product quality, but also on the means to achieve it within Watteredge as well as the customer’s organization.
SOLID PRODUCT SET
Watteredge has been in business for more than 50 years and also has a metals division, a full service metal distributor that specializes in a wide variety of standard and hard-to-find metals. In addition, the metals division services the aerospace, automotive, electrical, food service, government/military, high-tech, marine and medical industries, offering a full range of metal products in bar, coil, plate, pipe, sheet and tubing.
Watteredge utilizes its innovation and experience to bring customers’ products that perform and customer service that’s quality driven. The products are tough, dependable and efficient and subject to high quality standards for material, manufacturing and inspection as guaranteed by its ISO 9001:2000 registered status.
In addition to the resistance welding cables and industrial hoses, there are six other product families within Watteredge. The laminated shunts provide optimal electrical values, while effectively eliminating the costly problem associated with resistive voltage losses. Watteredge manufactures a broad variety of shunts using a patented press welding method. This unique process gives its shunts resistance values equal to those of flat copper bar, minimizes voltage loss, maintains uniform flow of current and is cost effective. Water-cooled cables are designed and assembled to reach maximum power and reliability on electric arc furnaces. The line of water cooled cables is available in both standard construction special rope lay design and in an alternate construction of concentric design. Each cable is individually designed to meet the particular requirements of the furnace it will serve.
High current switches and isolators offer safety, reliability and long life. The switches provide superior performance in the particular harsh environments they serve. The vacuum contact switches are available in either fixed or portable models and are custom designed to accommodate specific customer needs. Overall maintenance and energy costs are significantly reduced when vacuum contact switches are substituted for conventional contact switches. Further savings result from the elimination of lost production time due to emergency shutdowns or reductions in cell current caused by partial or complete failure of conventional contact switches.
Watteredge offers contract machining and welding services like punching and forming, milling, tuning and welded stainless steel systems. Watteredge also offers design and engineering services. LaRussa says the design and engineering services are just another example of the company offering more value than its competition.
The engineering department utilizes the latest engineering design tools including AutoCad and Solidworks 3D modeling. These tools are not only used to design the company’s products but are also used to help customers with contract engineering services. Rounding out the product set are braided flexible connectors.
Quality products mixed with a dedication to partnering with employees, customers, and vendors have given Watteredge a competitive advantage over its competitors while expanding its core business into other industries. LaRussa says he expects this approach to lead Watteredge into more uncharted territories in the future and the company is looking forward to it.