Holton, 50, most recently served as vice president of U.S. operations for Jacob Holm Industries, a Swiss-based manufacturer of nonwoven roll products.
“We believe Chip is the ideal person to step into this leadership role at this critical time,” said Lewis Barnhardt, president and chief operating officer of Barnhardt Manufacturing Co., the parent of NCFI.
“He was instrumental in our successful relationship with Jacob Holm, and we are positive he will lead the next stage of growth and transformation for our 50-year-old polyurethane company,” according to Barnhardt.
Holton said his leadership style has been honed over time, but that his experiences in the Army play a key role in how he guides people and leadership roles he's held at various companies have provided a process-oriented approach to accomplish the desired outcomes.
“There are no silver bullets,” he said. “You can have a toolbox full of lean manufacturing tools, a wide array of leadership skills and expensive industry knowledge, but in the end you can only use them a la carte—synthesize them—extract the elements that best fit within the current organization, best serve the goals of the company, and best fit the markets and customers we serve. Our resulting NCFI culture will be expressly ours.”
A cornerstone of NCFI is its commitment to safety in the workplace, he said. The success of the firm's safety program can be attributed to employees that lead it from the ground up, he noted, and that continuous improvement plays a major role in the company's culture.
Barnhardt and Holton said in the short term, customers can expect quicker turnaround times on products.
“Our cultural transformation is well underway with new people, new products and new markets,” Holton said.
With the polyurethane foam industry expected to grow at a 6 to 7 percent rate through 2020, he said, “we're retooling our culture to think and act in a constant change environment.”
NCFI, with a strong reputation in every market it serves, is learning to focus and shift to take advantage of new opportunities, or move from segments that are soft, the official said.
The key elements to the company's success are people, purpose and passion, Holton said.
“Add the word predictability, and those four Ps become the foundation for our continued evolutionary leap from a local North Carolina company to an international powerhouse polyurethane supplier,” he said.
Holton said he's honored to be playing a role in creating a place where “change is the new normal.”
Riddle, 66, became the company's fourth president in 2007. He succeeded Swanson Snow, and he was the first executive officer who was not part of the group that founded the business in 1964.
“Steve was a bit of an outsider” when he came on board, Barnhardt said. “He brought a wave of innovation and change to the company from which we greatly benefited.”