MINNEAPOLIS—It didn't take long to sell Jay Ward on joining Minnesota Rubber & Plastics.
The executive was named CEO of Quadion L.L.C., which does business as Minnesota Rubber & Plastics, in February after spending the last 18 years with Donaldson Co. Inc., a $2.5 billion filter company. He was most recently in charge of its Engine Products division that accounts for $1.5 billion in sales.
It's safe to say Ward is scaling down a bit at his new company.
"It's a blast," Ward said. "We have about 1,300 employees so you can actually get to know almost everybody. You can be extremely agile in making decisions without bureaucracy."
The move to Minnesota Rubber & Plastics allows Ward to also be closer to home. He and his wife have lived in Minnesota for the last 10 years with their 10 kids—eight of whom are still local. He got connected to the company from doing previous business with Norwest Equity Partners, Minnesota's private equity owner.
He was impressed by several things, primarily the firm's strong technology. Minnesota Rubber & Plastics produces rubber and plastics components with sealing being one of its core products. The firm operates seven global sites—three in the U.S. plus its headquarters and one in Mexico, France and China. About 60 percent of its business stems from rubber-related compounds, including a small silicone presence, with 20 percent from plastics and another 20 percent from integrated components, or bonding rubber/plastics together or with metal.
It also seemed to align with what he was looking for, to find a company that wanted to emphasize customer focus. And many of those customer requirements are the same as those of his previous experiences.
"They want lower cost with better performance," Ward said. "To bring them what they need, you have to bring them some innovation. A lot of times it's doing things differently than it's historically been done. They're willing to pay to make a problem go away.
"We get paid because we have customers. Being customer-focused is really the heart of my message since I've showed up."