Cameron Manufacturing & Design, Inc.
More than a job shop
Business View Magazine interviews representatives from Cameron Manufacturing & Design, Inc., as part of our focus on the metal fabrications industry.
Cameron Manufacturing & Design, Inc. (CMD) of Horseheads, New York, manufactures and supplies metal fabrications and custom machinery in various areas, including glass forming equipment, optical fiber processing equipment, and material handling apparatus with robotics and conveyors. The company also provides specialty fabrication services, which include rolling, bending, punching, welding, and surface preparation services; precision and production machining; precision laser cutting; refurbishing and upgrading services; machine shop services; prototypes and heavy fabrication services; mechanical, chemical, and electrical controls design; and engineering services.
“At its core, Cameron Manufacturing & Design is a job shop,” says National Account Executive, Ted Peet. “However, that term really does not do CMD justice.” The company was originally founded in the small town of Cameron, New York, in 1983, by Frank LaViola, Sr. “Frank’s idea to form the company really began when he saw a need in our local market for a fabricating business in upstate New York,” Peet continues. “We were known as Cameron Fabricating, back then. Over the course of the past 35 years, Cameron Fabrication has evolved into a provider of solutions in many areas – welding, fabrication, machining, engineering, project management, and automation. We rebranded as Cameron Manufacturing & Design in 2003, and Cameron Manufacturing & Design has progressed to encompass all forms of technological innovation in the job shop market.”
When LaViola founded Cameron Fabricating with fewer than 10 employees, it was a fabricating and welding business that also did some installation, and served mainly the food industry. It had little machining capability, an area that has been among its biggest growth areas in the past 10 years. When he retired in 2007, he sold the company to the employees and the management of the privately held firm was able to offer its workers an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). In the ESOP, the company awards shares of stock once a year to its employees. The price of the shares is based on the value of the company at the end of each fiscal year. The shares are awarded based on employees’ earnings and years of service.
Today, Cameron Manufacturing & Design has 250 employees who operate out of a 125,000-sq.-ft. complex in the heart of the southern tier region of upstate New York that houses a state-of-the-art machine shop, three separate welding and fabrication departments, an in-house engineering division, a project management group, and the company’s management and administrative teams. The company also maintains an additional 27,000-sq.-ft, offsite facility.
“Our core business is in the melting area – glass, carbon fiber, and other melting scenarios,” says Matt Sharpe, Director of Sales & Human Resources. “We have also branched out into other areas – transit and rail. We’re currently going into specialty fasteners with our in-house machine shop, and we have some new technologies in renewable energy – solar, wind, and lithium ion batteries.” In fact, most recently, Cameron partnered with Skyven Technologies, a solar power technology firm from Dallas, Texas, to produce its “Intelligent Mirror Array,” one of the world’s first solar solutions for industrial steam. The first order of panels has been completed for a company called The Radiant Store, based in Troy, New York, to install the system at Copses Farms, in Valley Falls, New York.
“We work in a vast array of arenas,” adds Peet, “glass melting, food and dairy, military, ovens, large fabrications. We can’t be pigeonholed into one industry. We’re so diverse that we can provide solutions for industries across many platforms.”
In addition to that versatility, Sharpe believes that Cameron Manufacturing & Design’s competitive advantage lies in its ability to be a solutions provider and strategic partner to its many clients. “Due to the custom nature of our shop, we are able to partner with many of our customers and provide them feedback in the manufacturing process to help them understand what it’s going to take to make their project in the least amount of time with the best quality products,” he explains. “That’s probably our second competitive advantage – our quality. Cameron quality has always been outstanding and we strive to keep that in the forefront. Over the past two years, we’ve spent close to a quarter of a million dollars on new quality inspection equipment that can provide thousands of data points and produce records for our customers’ files – tolerances are being held that I’ve never dreamed possible.”
“In addition, we’ve also learned that, in our industry, we’re no longer competing against the company down the road,” says Peet. “We have a strong footprint in a 300-mile radius surrounding our Horseheads location; however, we’re competing against companies all across the globe. With the ease of shipping and transport, we had to create an efficiency model within our company that separated us from our competition. That one-stop-shop, where we’re able to provide so many services under one roof, sets us apart from our competition. Also, there are the strategic relationships that we value so much. When we’re trying to provide a solution for a customer or client, we look at every one of our vendors, or suppliers, or subcontractors as a strategic partner with whom we work to achieve that common goal. We want to be able to deliver the best product at the most affordable rate, and at the highest standard. To do those things, it takes a team. And by doing so, we found that we’ve been able to separate ourselves, locally, across the nation, and internationally.”
Peet maintains that while, heretofore, job shops like Cameron Manufacturing & Design didn’t need to market themselves aggressively, because their customers sought them out, today, they need to be more proactive. “We’ve changed our approach to include hiring a guy like myself,” he avers, “someone to interact with our current clients as well as bridge the gap between what we can do better for them and how else we can service them. And, while we’re doing that, we’re also going out and reaching new markets and new industries that didn’t realize there was a need for a job shop: ‘Hey, instead of doing this in-house, why not outsource it to a professional? We can save you this amount of money.’ With that being said, the value of Cameron Manufacturing & Design will never be found in the dollar sign. It’s found in the transparency of our relationships and the standard of quality and excellence we strive to achieve with them and deliver to them on a daily basis. So, we take that to the market. We push ourselves out there as high-quality workers of integrity to service an industry.”
Going forward, Peet says that Cameron Manufacturing & Design has a couple of new projects in the works that could soon require a doubling of the company’s square footage and an increase of its employee count by a third. “Technology is part of CMD’s strategic plan and it’s utilized every day in many capacities, here,” he states. “We’re consistently implementing those new technologies into our practical applications in a variety of our departments to seek process improvement, improve our efficiency, and to break down the silos that exist in all organizations. There are some new technologies, out there, that we’re partnering with right now, and through those technologies, we’ve got some things on the horizon that could cause us to see that growth.”
Check out this handpicked feature on Compass Forwarding – Charting a Course for Clients.
AT A GLANCE
WHO: Cameron Manufacturing & Design, Inc.
WHAT: A manufacturer of metal fabrications and custom machinery
WHERE: Horseheads, New York
Nivert Metal Supply, Inc. – A family-owned metals service center, Nivert Metal Supply was originally founded as a scrap metal business by Albert Nivert in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 1936. Albert’s brother, Harry, soon joined him in the business, and after returning from service in World War II, began purchasing government surplus metal to sell to local construction companies. In time, Harry established Nivert Metal Supply to serve the metal needs of the northeastern Pennsylvania market.
Today, Nivert Metal Supply, Inc. is run by Harry’s son, Louis. Louis’ daughter, Rebecca, joined the company in 2009 and was soon joined by her brother, Aaron, in 2012. The company operates from a 125,000-square-foot building with over 6,500 tons of inventory in the Keystone Industrial Park in Throop, Pennsylvania. – www.nivertmetal.com