Customer-Centric – Creating a Caring Culture
It can be challenging for businesses to establish a company philosophy dedicated to putting employees and customers first, particularly when continual growth and acquisition are essential for success and survival. Adaptec Solutions has managed to do both, and do them well, and is thriving under a strong and unified leadership team, an expanding business focus, and a name change.
Headquartered in Rochester, New York, this material handling and robotic automation systems integrator provides a wide array of services including system design, build, installation and after installation support. Formerly operating under the name Aloi Materials Handling, Adaptec Solutions emerged following a number of changes and acquisitions, rebranding itself successfully as a single source integrator for material handling and automation needs with a portfolio rich in both products and services.
“Adaptec’s predecessor Aloi Materials Handling dates back more than 40 years, and specialized in traditional material handling like warehousing and pallet racking,” says Bob Manion, partner and Executive Vice President, Business Development.
Founded in 1977 by John Aloi, Aloi Materials Handling was sold in 1987 to John Skivington, and bought by Jeff Gambrill and Manion in 2008. Prior to the Aloi acquisition, Manion purchased Lambert Material Handling — formerly known as Lamson Corporation — in 2007.
“We rapidly started building capabilities in automation robotics, growing robotics to 25 percent of our business within five years,” says Manion.
In 2014, Manion and Gambrill sold the Lambert portion of the business to Illinois-based company, ARPAC, LLC., and in 2016 the two partnered with Wincove Private Holdings. Under the leadership of new president and CEO, Andrew Creathorn, Aloi completed its first acquisition in 2019, combining operations with Automated Cells & Equipment, before acquiring Mainstream Inc. later that same year. In late 2020, Adaptec also purchased Integrated Solutions in Memphis.
Combining significant organic growth with three acquisitions and four brands, the leadership team made the decision to rebrand the combined companies as Adaptec Solutions. In August of 2020, Adaptec Solutions was launched, with the mandate of providing customers with wider-ranging products and services, enriched expertise, and integrated solutions capabilities across a broad range of markets and applications. The company can develop and manufacture unique solutions to meet its customers’ diverse needs.
“We’ve experienced 25 years of organic growth, adding sales engineers, new product lines and applications, and equipment such as cranes and lift tables,” says Gambrill. “Throughout the years and numerous changes, we’ve remained dedicated to maintaining quality customer service through a company culture that makes Adaptec a great place to work.”
Adaptec now has two locations in New York, one in Lexington, North Carolina, and one in Memphis, Tennessee. Each of the four locations house one of the company’s “centers of excellence” including robotics, material handling, complex conveyor solutions and customer service and support. Adaptec’s capabilities provide its customers a complete integrated solution from design/build through installation and startup including maintaining and upgrading the equipment after customers take possession of the solution. The company also provides integrated solutions with connectivity and the analytics to monitor and diagnose the equipment’s performance throughout its life cycle to help improve efficiency and profitability.
“We’ve enjoyed substantial growth in our core businesses as a result of both organic growth and strategic acquisitions in the past five years,” says Manion. “We’re in a unique position in materials handling and automation applications in targeted markets with end-to-end capabilities, from design to installation and service.”
Adaptec supports a diverse range of industries including grocery, food and beverage, industrial, automotive, aerospace, medical, and logistics, and integrates substantial engineering experience with superior levels of service to help customers elevate their capabilities and improve throughput, resulting in reduced labor costs and a safer working environment.
“One of our biggest challenges,” and certainly one that is no stranger to any company out there at the moment, “is finding good people committed to the company culture,” says Manion. “It’s a really competitive market for hiring skilled labor.”
To address this need, Adaptec prioritizes caring for its employees and making the workplace attractive for a younger demographic. In fact, Adaptec has partnered with local universities to develop an engineering partnership with relevant curriculum and a feeder program to help nurture new talent.
With impressive services that include robotic programming and training, design consulting, controls, repair and inspection services – always with customer satisfaction top of mind – the Adaptec team sports impressive credentials, including FANUC integrator certification and highly trained technicians with the ability to dispatch 24/7/365 to handle breakdowns, provide support, and offer remote troubleshooting and diagnostics including robotics and PLC troubleshooting. At the same time, team members uphold the company values of accountability, adaptability, drive, teamwork and, above all, customer service.
The company now has close to 300 employees and 70 service technicians available for aftermarket services that cover the continental U.S., along with projects in Puerto Rico, Canada and Mexico. “We go where our customers need us,” says Gambrill.
Adaptec’s acquisition of Integrated Solutions — a top supplier of custom engineered material handling equipment with significant experience in complex conveyor solutions — further bolstered the company’s growth strategy of providing more knowledge of applications and capability in key growth end markets, coupled with a facility located in a geographically attractive area, according to Gambrill. The Integrated Solutions acquisition provides customers with more products and services, and helps Adaptec further its goal of becoming a full-service company.
Indeed, the company’s rebrand has resulted in a number of progressive changes, including a new website domain (adaptecsolutions.com) and new online store (shop.adaptecsolutions.com), along with new mission and vision statements: “To deliver superior, efficient, safe solutions that enable our customers to always meet their commitments,” demonstrating the company’s desire to lead both in safety and efficiency, while also creating an excellent workplace atmosphere at each of its locations.
The acquisitions, while exciting, brought their own set of challenges and some understandable struggles when rebranding as Adaptec 18 months ago, says Manion, which were overcome as a team.
“We successfully merged four cultures from acquired companies into one united team,” he says of the company’s core business growth, which now places it in an excellent position in its served markets. “We have a pretty unique position in our served markets in that we provide a complete integrated solution from concept design to after installation support 100 percent supported by our own team; we don’t sub our work to others to support our projects.”
This also marks a key step in Adaptec’s ultimate goal of continuing to provide its customers with all the solutions they need throughout the full life cycle of their equipment. The company can now reduce life cycle costs, performing as a single entity providing 100 percent internal capabilities to turnkey material handling and automation projects from concept design through to engineering, assembly, testing, installation and field service support.
“Our growth is a result of our focus on being a full-service integration company and we’re now ideally placed to support the ongoing automation demands in the industrial manufacturing and distribution/warehousing industries,” says Manion. “Our team has the right products, design solutions and expertise to help you achieve manufacturing goals, including optimal productivity.”
Providing superior service and support for virtually any automation, robotic or material handling system also means working with reliable suppliers every step of the way. “Adaptec has suppliers from across the U.S., and some suppliers that are global players in the industry,” says Gambrill. “Almost all are longstanding carryovers from companies we’ve acquired, and we’re proud to have maintained and grown these relationships.”
Other recent challenges have included, of course, dealing with the pandemic. Adaptec was understandably concerned when COVID first hit and wondered — as did most businesses — about the benefits of remote working conditions versus in-office. “We’ve found that some employees have been working harder when working remotely,” says Gambrill.
And that hard work is definitely paying off with three growth verticals. “Our order growth in the last four months has been phenomenal,” says Manion. “The size of our projects in the past two years has grown and we’re now taking on an eight-figure order. The company has also experienced growth in volume, size and the complexity of our projects.”
Revenue has also been extremely positive, with 30 percent growth since the company restructured. “It’s consistent with the industry average for sales per employee,” says Manion.
Goals moving forward for Adaptec are numerous, including continued growth in its core business areas. “We want to expand capabilities and our breadth and depth of products and services,” says Gambrill, which includes going downstream in the supply chain.
The company has received several awards of note as well, including being named the second-fastest growing company in Rochester, an award from FANUC as a top 10 integrator in the U.S. and being named a finalist for two awards from the American Marketing Association of Rochester, for branding and COVID response.
But the company’s biggest achievement might be its ongoing dedication to creating a culture that will outlive any award.
“Adaptec really wants to make sure the company’s a great place to work for younger people through both recruiting and building company culture,” says Manion. “We really care about our employees and customers. It’s the focal point of our culture and values.”