Company continues as a local and global leader in the industry
In 2022, Conair grew stronger due to two important factors.
First, Conair and its parent company, IPEG, became part of Italy’s Piovan Group in an acquisition completed in January.
Combining Piovan’s dominant position in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia with Conair’s market leadership in North America and Asia, the grouping creates the largest supplier of plastics auxiliary equipment worldwide.
For Conair, it also creates opportunities to bring new products and technologies to market and expand, through Piovan, sales of its products into other markets.
Second, Conair met its business challenges by relying on two core principles.
“We listened to the challenges and needs of our customers and then relied upon the expertise, commitment and work ethic of our employees to adapt as needed, and execute successfully,” Conair President Jason Ganim said.
In 2022, this teamwork delivered results, including record shipments. Franklin employees played vital roles in that success by executing new supply chain strategies, expanding manufacturing and service capacity to better serve customers, and delivering exceptional-quality products.
Despite a pandemic-related slowdown in the automotive industry — a major user of plastics equipment — demand for plastics in other markets soared. And plastics processors, Conair’s primary auxiliary equipment customers, continued buying equipment at a record pace to provide essential medical products, telecommunications, food and product packaging, consumer goods, piping, decking, construction products and countless other products to their customers.
To meet this demand, and to ensure availability of components vital for assembly operations, customer deliveries, and spare parts needs during 2022, the Franklin facility adapted its supply chain strategy by boosting component orders and adding new suppliers.
The team also expanded warehousing space by leasing additional space in local buildings to house added inventory and partially assembled products waiting for critical components.
The added space made it much easier to complete and ship equipment orders as soon as the components were received.
Internally, IT and operations personnel adapted inventory handling software and systems to better manage production and improve efficiency.
After pulling the parts needed to build and deliver the maximum number of customer orders on time, the team began to pull orders “forward,” assembling and completing product orders ahead of anticipated delivery schedules based on the availability of parts in inventory.
Innovations like these, often suggested by employees through the company’s PRIDE program, helped turn significant supply chain concerns into steady improvements in inventory availability, assembly capacity, order lead times, and on-time customer deliveries. For example, Conair’s “Quick Ship” stocking program, which promises fast delivery of Conair products in standard configurations, was halted during 2021 to reserve available parts for meeting customer orders.
However, thanks to employee-driven improvements, the Quick Ship program resumed in late 2022. Within months, it delivered twice the projected results in orders and shipments.
Overall, the Franklin team supported multiple record booking and sales months for Conair throughout 2022 and posted its best on-time delivery results for the year in November and December.
Ganim pointed out that while adapting to all these changes, the Franklin team made another “huge contribution” by reducing the company’s already fantastic “cost of quality.” Essentially, this means the team built and shipped products with historically lower costs for post-assembly inspection, rework, adjustments, or in-field repairs.
New Product Solutions
In 2022, Franklin-based employees were instrumental in engineering, manufacturing, and supporting the introduction of more than 30 new-product solutions or upgrades.
These include three new models of Thermolator® temperature control units and eight entirely redesigned models of mobile and central dryers, and new Moisture Minder™ resin-moisture detecting devices.
With an eye toward the industry’s largest tradeshow, NPE 2024, Conair continues to invest in aggressive new product development efforts for 2023.
More than 40 active projects aim to deliver new products by or before May 2024, when global processors will meet again at the international NPE event in Orlando, Florida.
More and more Conair product development is driven by customers who want to harness the power of data to improve process and equipment management.
Specifically, they want equipment with the latest in easy-to-use controls and “Industry 4.0” data exchange and automation capabilities. Conair is well positioned to meet their needs thanks to new product development efforts.
Thousands of customers depend on Conair to deliver auxiliary equipment and provide a growing range of services. In 2022, the Project Management and Customer Care teams helped keep customer operations running smoothly by:
- Answering thousands of technical support and service calls, working each “case” until it is completed and closed.
- Shipping tens of thousands of spare-parts orders to worldwide locations.
- Scheduling and dispatching field personnel to complete hundreds of equipment inspection, maintenance, or repair orders at customer sites.
- Delivering new diagnostic and troubleshooting tools, including “machine health” assessments and other predictive maintenance strategies.
Since customers often lack the in-house expertise to design and install large auxiliary equipment systems like storage silos, central resin conveying and drying systems, complete molding or extrusion lines, or film/scrap reclaim systems, Conair’s Project Management team plays an increasingly important role.
“When I joined Conair, project management didn’t really exist,” said Installation Engineering Manager Mike Simons, a 25-year employee.
In 2022, the team managed more than 150 large system installation projects, “from initial quote to design, installation and start-up.” These kept our dedicated installation crews “on the road” for 99.4 percent of their available person-days, working at customer sites.
Conair’s consistently strong operating results are not surprising when one considers the experience and longevity of many employees. Every year, a holiday luncheon celebrates the five-year service anniversaries of long-serving employees.
The 2022 luncheon recognized 18 people who represented 665 years of service to Conair, including: 50 years, Ernie Preiato; 40 years, Randy Tenney; 35 years, Bill Hricsina and Lori Larrick; 30 years, Bill Griffin and Mike Simons; 25 years, Scott Bailey, Dan Beltz, Jason Garlitz, Matthew Goreczny, Darin Hughes, Don Moyer, Jeff Polich, Brian Preiato, Dave Spring, Jeff Shook and Mike Settlemire; 20 years, Justin Chamberlain.
“Conair extends a sincere thank you to our 2022 service award recipients and every other member of our dedicated workforce,” Ganim said. “Employee retention and experience are just two factors that differentiate Conair, enabling our products, services, and customer support to be top-notch. This type of dedication and employee longevity is rare at many companies, but not at Conair.”
While the company values experience, it also strives to attract and develop promising employees and leaders for the future.
Approximately 40 current employees are enrolled in our Emerging Leaders program, a challenging management-development course. Dozens more employees are engaged in individualized training, using a new, module-based Microsoft training program.
Those who strive for career growth within Conair can find ample opportunities, says International Business Manager Bill Hricsina, a 35-year employee: “If you have the drive and ability, you can move up in the organization. Now, we have programs to help anyone that wants to grow to do so.”
One in four new positions at Conair are filled by current employees and 21 employees were promoted internally during 2022. The company also plans to add 10 to 15 new hires at its Franklin and Cranberry Township locations during 2023.
Rewards and Giving Back
Regardless of experience level, every employee can also benefit from Conair’s profit-sharing program and the PRIDE employee suggestion program, which recognizes and rewards business-improvement ideas.
According to Ganim, the employee efforts that contributed to Conair’s record-setting performance in 2022 resulted in a “healthy” profit sharing payout for the year.
Recognizing the value of community service, the company added a paid-time-off day for each employee to use in a community service activity.
Conair employees responded by volunteering to serve food banks, schools, parks and youths while supporting the United Way and other local charities. Conair’s “Giving Tree” program, which provides holiday gifts to deserving local individuals and families, has been an annual tradition for decades.
Among those “giving back” is Electric Manufacturing Team Leader Angelica Myers, who got involved with the Venango County Vo-Tech Center after helping a co-op student working at Conair. After speaking with Myers, the Vo-Tech Electronics instructor, Tim Lyons, asked her to join an advisory board to help shape the school’s curriculum.
“I’ve talked with Tim about adding wiring skills to the class, so the kids have some hands-on experience of what we do at Conair, as well as a better chance to turn their co-op work into a career,” she said.
In March, the Conair Franklin team and company leaders will host tours of the Electrical Assembly shop so the program’s 48 electronics students can learn more.
As Conair marks its 67th anniversary, it has grown from a respected local company into a vital part of Piovan Group, the world’s largest supplier of plastics auxiliary equipment and systems.
This new relationship is already offering new opportunities and technology to Conair, and in 2023, Conair will add the Doteco™ line of extrusion blenders to the over 450 products available today. Additionally, plans are underway to add to the hundreds of Conair, Thermal Care and Republic Machine products already manufactured in Franklin.
Conair anticipates continued expansion of its Franklin-area workforce and added investment in local facilities to meet the challenges of 2023, which starts with an already strong backlog of orders.
After the exterior improvements made in 2022, which included repaving and expanded parking, interior improvements planned for 2023 include building upgrades and adding new assembly cells for electrical sub-assemblies and panels.
These and other investments signal the vital role that Franklin-area employees and facilities continue to play in the company’s expanding operations.
“At Conair we believe if we take care of our employees and our customers, everything else will take care of itself,” Ganim said. “In 2022, the Franklin team did both exceptionally well, driving our historic execution and setting us up for another potential record year in 2023. The future is bright for this team with exciting times ahead.”