- April 01, 2008
Why does one company survive — and thrive — for 40 years while many others seem to come and go? PFFC put that question to Bruce Butler, VP of Independent Machine Co. (IMC), which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.
“We've survived because, besides being quite tenacious, we're very flexible,” says Butler. “We've made a lot of changes over the years. We've gone in and out of various industries as they have risen and fallen, and we're not tied to any particular thing. I think that flexibility is the reason that we're still here.”
That flexibility has not prevented IMC from establishing a niche in traverse winding. Company president Jack Santa Lucia says the niche developed through years of maintenance work, working with machine tools, and machinery rebuilding. “I always loved mechanical stuff,” says Santa Lucia. “We started in a three-car garage in Paramus [NJ], and then moved to Hawthorne, to a little bigger place with heat and a bathroom!” After a move to Paterson, NJ, the company landed in Fairfield a little more than 20 years ago. Santa Lucia handles the engineering end, while Butler specializes in sales and marketing. A contract converting division called ICE is managed by Robin Ulanski.
IMC's company philosophy doesn't sound complicated. According to Butler, “We try and produce the highest quality equipment we can. We focus on the areas in which we have an expertise. We try and do the best job that we can do. Sometimes we make money and sometimes we don't, but we always produce what the customer has ordered.”
Butler cites foreign competition as one of the major challenges in the industry today. He believes the industry will become more and more price-competitive as time goes on, but IMC doesn't fit that model. “We can't really be price-competitive, we have to be technologically competitive,” he explains, pointing to the cost of doing business in New Jersey among other factors.
What's in IMC's future? “We continue to try and make improvements in our niche areas,” Butler says. “We've recently developed a line of equipment that will unwind the spools that our converting machinery makes. In other words, we're trying to find a new market by helping our customers with their market.”
Reflecting on his company's 40th anniversary, Bruce Butler says, “Jack and I both are amazed that 40 years have passed and we're still standing! We both enjoy what we do. We have a company of people that are very professional, and hopefully the future will be bright.”
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