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Updated: April 3, 2023 / 2023 Manufacturing Excellence Awards

Manufacturing awards: Wirefab has transformed itself to drive record profits

Photos | courtesy of Wirefab, inc. The Wirefab team includes multiple employees who've been with the company for decades.

Wirefab, Inc. is the kind of place with a plaque in its office space for employees who have been with the company for a long time.

It recognizes and celebrates longevity. But this isn’t your typical longevity. This is generational-spanning employment: 30 years, 35, 40, 45, and 50. With that kind of loyalty, it would be easy to sit on your laurels and keep doing the same thing over and over again. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it, as the saying goes. But something did need to change.

Wirefab Inc. bio box

The company, which was started by Asbed Zakarian and incorporated in February 1955, had become stale, and the family business had become comfortable, which is never a good sign in any field, but especially not so in the volatile marketplace of manufacturing, where contracts can swiftly disappear. And it looked like it was going to stay that way until 28-year veteran engineer Chris Bousbouras threatened to leave. In stepped Elizabeth Lukose, granddaughter of Zakarian, to try and keep Bousbouras, a long-time employee who had become vital to its manufacturing arm with his engineering skills.

After a long lunch, Lukose saw Bousbouras’s vision. She wasn’t working for her family’s company at the time, but took it on herself to help Bousbouras, whose grandparents worked at the factory, see that change was possible. There was a future.

“Chris wanted capital investments for what’s next. He wanted to go places, but there needed to be leadership,” Lukose said.

The pair approached Lukose's father, company President Jim Samsel, with an idea for the company’s future. Samsel supported the idea and the creation of a new leadership team to drive Wirefab into the future. The team stripped everyone of their titles and restructured roles. No longer would people be siloed into their title or category. This was a company now, and everyone was expected to row in the same direction. If you didn’t want to, then you were out. The company invested in new equipment and went after new contracts in new industry subsectors. Wirefab changed its model from bending to the whims of customers to being proactive and creating its own identity that made customers want to work with them.

Photo | Courtesy of Wirefab Inc.
Wirefab founder Asbed Zakarian

“The company was struggling for culture,” Bousbouras said. There wasn’t even a break room before. Now there are communication classes for people who don’t speak the same language on the floor and basic shop math classes, as well as parties and a break room where employees can meet for lunch and interact with each other.

It’s paid off. Wirefab not only continues to make the donut baskets for Dunkin’, which it has done forever, but now it contracts work out for aerospace and biomanufacturing. The company is having its best years, in terms of profits. And, at the same time, the company is an ESOP (employee stock ownership plan) and investing in its employees by giving them an ownership stake in the company for their retirement and paying for college classes.

Sometimes, a refresh is needed. Maybe what looked alright on the surface had cracks waiting to break, and it's best to repair them before everything comes crumbling down. Now, Wirefab's new leadership team strives to evolve to the future, while striving to maintain the company's 68-year legacy.

2023 Manufacturing Excellence Awards

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