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April 1, 2019 manufacturing awards

AIS has embraced diversity, corporate giving & product innovation following its Leominster move

AIS CEO Bruce Platzman (third from left) walks the factory floor where the company emphasizes diversity in hiring

The move by office furniture manufacturer AIS to Leominster and consolidation of its five different Central Massachusetts locations helped not only revamp the company, but revitalized the city.

With the help of a 13-year tax break, the company moved into a vacant 537,000-square-foot facility, which became fully operational in 2017.

Since then, the company has been a model of modern manufacturing, employing more than 200 women on the factory floor and adding jobs every year.

The company's goal in moving into the new facility was to create another 250 jobs over three years. AIS is now close to doubling that figure, said President and CEO Bruce Platzman.

The company has about 750 employees in Leominster, and more than 550 are in the factory.

Aside from the economic advantages, the company has endeared itself to the community with its philanthropic efforts, including donating to charities like United Way and Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“That's special not only to myself but the entire executive team and the entire company,” Platzman said.

Good corporate citizen

When the company first came knocking in Leominster, they were bringing the biggest bang for the city's buck, said Mayor Dean Mazzarella.

Other companies looking at the building were looking at warehousing, which wouldn't bring many jobs.

When AIS came, the company brought with it a plan to redevelop, hire and be a good corporate citizen.

“They've exceeded my expectations in all three,” Mazzarella said.

It doesn't take much convincing to get the company to help the city, he said. The company is typically one of the major sponsors for city events.

“This is a dream for a community outside of the Boston area to have a company like this in their town,” Mazzarella said.

Staying ahead of the curve

The industry itself is growing at a 5 percent clip since 2010, but AIS its averaging at least 12-percent annual growth since that time, said Platzman.

“It's important for any organization to give back – especially when you're successful,” Platzman said.

Success, he said, comes from diversity and supporting the local economy by buying materials from local firms.

Along with the more than 200 women on the factory floor, the company employs people from 38 countries.

“That didn't exist within the organization two or three years ago,” Platzman said.

The company has also been able to grow by staying tuned into the evolving office needs of corporate America, including new technologies embedded into office furniture and simple things like personalization capabilities.

“We're keeping up with technology,” Platzman said. “Millenials work different than 50-year-olds working today.”

Read about the other WBJ 2019 Manufacturing Excellence Award winners

Manufacturing Excellence Award, Small Company - Organomation

Green Manufacturing Award - Acorn Deck House Co.

Rising Star Award - New England Optical Systems, Inc.

Product Design & Innovation Award - CPI Radant Technologies Division, Inc.

Collaboration in Manufacturing Award - Carpe Diem Technologies, Inc.

Workplace Development & Productivity Award - SLIDEWAYS, Inc.


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