Taking time to celebrate a major milestone can be quite rewarding. It gives the opportunity to not only look upon a job well done, but also to analyze how you got there and—more importantly—where you're going next.
Lord Corp. is getting to do just that as 2018 marked the first year in the privately owned company's history that it broke the $1 billion mark in annual sales. Even in today's business world that's an impressive feat. Outside of the tire manufacturers, the rubber industry doesn't boast all that many firms in the exclusive billion dollar club.
And the Cary, N.C.-based firm has accomplished this the right way. The 95-year-old company has built a business based on advancing technology, collaborating with customers and looking to branch out and diversify into new areas it believes its products and know-how can make a difference.
Ed Auslander, Lord CEO and president, should know. He started at the bottom in 1984 in the firm's student co-op program and had a front row seat as the company grew to a global corporation that boasts 3,000 employees in 26 countries, while operating 19 manufacturing sites and 10 R&D centers. Roughly 60 percent of revenues comes from non-U.S. business.
Lord also is one of the few firms that has been able to successfully operate on two different pillars of the rubber business. It is both a rubber product maker and supplier, with its revenues roughly split evenly between its rubber-to-metal bonding/vibration control mounts and systems, and its performance materials segment, largely adhesives sold in the market under the Chemlok brand.
This is where the integrity of a company comes into play. Auslander said Lord is careful to keep confidentiality across all its activities, knowing that trust and relationships are central to the firm's success.
The company CEO also knows there is no time to stand still in this business. When he became president in 2013, it was becoming clear that trouble was ahead in the oil and gas market, and that was going to have a direct impact on Lord.
To prepare for this, Lord launched an initiative to look at adjacent markets where its technology could find applications. From 18 potential targets identified, Lord now is aiming at six areas, including such hot sectors as electrification and lightweighting.
The company also isn't afraid to invest in new capacity, technology and people. It recently opened a new production plant in France and is investing heavily at a site in Pennsylvania.
It also is active with most electric vehicle manufacturers around the globe and recently was awarded the biggest contract in Lord history with longtime customer Boeing.
So after hitting 10 percent growth in both 2017 and 2018 to reach the $1 billion mark, there will be no looking back, with another 6 percent boost expected this year.
Now that's an even better way to celebrate.