CARY, N.C.—There's always another summit in the business world, but that doesn't mean Lord Corp. can't stop and enjoy the view after reaching a pretty big one.
The Cary-based provider of both rubber-to-metal bonding technologies and adhesives just crossed the $1 billion mark in sales for the first time in its 95-year history, thanks largely to a successful 2018 that saw it open a new facility in France, launch an expansion in Pennsylvania and ink a record-setting deal with Boeing.
"The whole team takes a lot of pride in this accomplishment," CEO and President Ed Auslander said. "Being a billion-dollar company is just one milestone in our journey. We have many other goals to achieve coming up, but this is something I'm proud of. I'm proud of our team and our customers connecting to collaborate on new solutions and many making the impossible real. It's a great accomplishment."
Bracing for impact
Auslander's journey also had many summits, coming to Lord in 1984 as part of the firm's student co-op program.
As he rose through the ranks, Lord became a Tier 1 supplier, enhanced its technological capabilities and expanded its business throughout the world. Now, 60 percent of its revenue is generated outside of the U.S. with more than 3,000 employees in 26 countries. It operates 19 manufacturing facilities and 10 research and development centers worldwide.
Auslander said the business is split evenly between its dynamic systems segment (rubber-to-metal bonding/vibration control mounts and systems) and its performance materials segment (adhesives).
"The technology has dramatically shifted over that time frame," Auslander said. "Originally, and still our core, is very much focused on polymers and adhesives. Over the last 30-plus years, we've expanded that quite dramatically around the world. We're very much a global company."
But upon becoming CEO, he saw that the company needed to prepare for lean times as projections forecast a global slowdown, which quickly came to fruition in the oil and gas market. That had ripple effects throughout Lord's operations.
"It was very clear in 2013 that the world's economy was going to slow down," Auslander said. "Growth was going to get harder and harder to come by. That certainly was true in 2014 and 2015, when we saw the oil market collapse. That impacted our rubber-to-metal, industrial and aerospace business. It had a dramatic effect."
In advance of the slowdown, Lord launched strategic initiatives to look at adjacent markets for it to expand its technology into. The company started with 18 targets and is now focused on six, including: Electrification, lightweighting, oil and gas as it rebounded from the downturn, engine suspensions, electro mechanic systems and aftermarket opportunities for its aerospace business.