February 17, 2014
Shop Talk

Q&A with Bob Waitt of Albright Technologies

Bob Waitt, president and partner, Albright Technologies, Leominster

VIEW: Shop Talk - Bob Waitt, Albright Technologies

It's an accomplishment for most people today to be with one employer for nearly 15 years; it's another thing to reach that milestone before your 30th birthday. But you probably have enough experience to run the place. That's what happened to Bob Waitt last year. Thirteen years after joining Albright Technologies as a teenager, he was promoted to president and CEO from vice president of business development — and he holds a degree in electrical engineering. Albright makes silicone components for clients in the medical, pharmaceutical, military and consumer goods industries.

What might the average person not know about silicone and how it’s used in the products Albright helps make?

People may typically see silicone in their local Home Depot or Lowe's, where they're using it as a sealant around a bathtub or something like that, like a caulking. They may also see it as a case for a cell phone — a lot of cases are made out of silicone. But we do quite a few different projects. We've been doing silicone for 10 years now, so we've seen thousands of different applications. Some of the interesting ones that we work on are for the health care industry … some of the components go into heart pumps and stuff like that. Because the material is biologically inert, and it's bio-compatible material, it doesn't have any negative effects (on) the body.

Some big names in the health care industry are among your clients. How are your products helping to make a difference in health care, along with the heart pumps?

We really specialize in quick-turn prototyping, so we're involved in a lot of the work (that the) R&D departments (do) at these companies. We don't really make any products that go out to market; we're more in the development phase, really on the cutting edge. Because we're able to do things more quickly, we're able to get them to market faster.

Many people talk about the future of the manufacturing industry, especially in Massachusetts. As one who oversees a manufacturing operation, what do you feel is needed the most to sustain the industry?

The big thing for us is talent, and bringing in people that are trained. For us to find talented people that we can bring in off the street is very difficult. We've had to come up with some ways to develop our own training programs; we've worked with local high schools and colleges to bring in young talent (through) internships and apprenticeships. We need them at a very early age.

What do small businesses such as Albright need most in order to grow?

Capital is always something that a company needs to grow, and it's no different for us. We have a pretty good cash flow. But in order to move forward, we're going to need to bring in newer equipment, newer technology. All that stuff requires cash and capital.

You know engineering, quality control, sales and management. In which of those four areas do you believe you excel most?

It's tough to say, because one of the things we focus on is on-time delivery. That has to do a lot with quality control because we produce parts very fast, but if they don't meet quality specifications, they're really no good to the customer. The other thing that we really focus on is the technology: engineering is a big part of what we offer the customer.

You’re not even 30 and you’re running a company. Did you ever think that would happen to you?

When I started here I was about 15 years old. At the time, thoughts went through my head that someday, I may be running this. That was always a goal of mine. But over the years, I've gone back and forth and I never really was sure whether it would come to fruition or not.

Read more

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