January 9, 2018
Manufacturing insights

Simonds International's flurry of activity

Courtesy
Simonds International CEO Ray Martino.

Fitchburg saw manufacturer Simonds International has been in business since the 1800s and prides itself on its ability to adapt to customers' needs and the industry. To that extent, the company has been actively pursuing growth opportunities, including two mergers in less than a year and opening a new customer-focused facility in South Carolina. The most recent merger, with Oregon-based Burton Saw, was announced last week. Simonds CEO Ray Martino was asked about the company's recent flurry of activity.

This is the second merger for Simonds International in less than a year. What was the motivation behind those moves?

Simonds has a history of making acquisitions and integrating them into its wood fiber platform. The motivation is to broaden the product breadth and service we provide to our customers and hence improve the financial strength of our company.

What is wood fiber?

Wood fiber refers to the harvesting and processing of trees. Simonds participates in a variety of wood fiber end markets such as lumber, plywood, oriented strand board (OSB,) pulp, paper, biomass, wood pellets, veneer and tree care.

What appealed to you about Burton Saw?

Burton has a very strong distribution system and an extensive product range of consumable supplies used in saw mills and other wood fiber applications. The consumable supplies help establish a strong and frequent point of customer contact, which can help us sell our cutting tools and maintenance equipment to the same customer base.

What will the merger change about the way the company does business?

The way we go to market will not change much due to the merger. We have always allowed the end users in the market to determine how they prefer to be served, either through a distributor or direct from us.

According to the company's website, the company has been around since the 1800s. How has the company sustained its success?

The company has a history of product innovation and acquisitions to allow us to adapt to the ever changing needs of our customers. We are customer focused. When the customer wins, we win.

All manufacturers tell us they have some trouble getting qualified employees, especially at younger ages. How about you guys?

The market for hiring new employees continues to be a challenge. We typically look for people who are motivated to work and have enough basic skills to learn the job with our internal training programs. We are willing to invest in the on-the -job training vs. looking for a fully trained hire.

What programs are in place between the company and state/local partnerships to help train a new generation of employees?

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has a variety of programs to assist manufacturers with job training and support. In addition, we are fortunate to have Mount Wachusett Community College in our region. The college has a fantastic range of programs to prepare students or the ever changing needs of employers in the region.

This interview was conducted and edited by WBJ Staff Writer Zachary Comeau.

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