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March 16, 2015 Shop Talk

Q&A with Bill DiBenedetto, President, Lampin Corp.

Bill DiBenedetto, President, Lampin Corp., Uxbridge RESIDENCE: Shrewsbury EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in management engineering, WPI
Bill DiBenedetto, President, Lampin Corp., Uxbridge

The manufacturing industry in Central Massachusetts isn't as robust as it was decades ago. But there are still robust companies. That includes Lampin Corp. of Uxbridge. The maker of such products as pulleys and MITRPAK gearboxes said it enjoyed 22-percent growth in revenue last year, and an even bigger 70-percent jump in net profit margins. Bill DiBenedetto, a former executive with Digital Equipment Corp., is nearing the end of his third year as president of the employee-owned company.

Lampin has said its revenue grew 22 percent last year. What's driving that growth?

First, there's a healthy market. We cater to four primary markets: medical devices and medical equipment, robotics, automation, and test and measurement devices. Almost like a perfect storm, in the sense that each one of those markets is growing at a good clip. The other thing is that we are taking market share from our competition.

We hear a lot about lean manufacturing practices. Do you think the entire U.S. manufacturing industry gets it and practices it effectively?

They get it for the most part, especially the larger (original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs) and they're driving that through their supply chains. You really can't be competitive today within those supply chains unless you can acknowledge that you understand the lean concept and you can demonstrate that you're living it every day.

Lampin is now a fully ESOP-owned company. How does that impact the company's direction and future?

We are really compelled to think long term because of the fact that we're obligated to support the ESOP trust. The trust is really the entity that owns the value of the company, and that trust is what's reserving the benefit for the employee-owners. It's their retirement plan. We have a long-term projection on what that trust needs to be valued at in order to satisfy the retirement needs of our employee-owners.

The other aspect of it is that we have to be particularly conscious of succession planning. (And we do that) with internal training and external training.

What's it like working every day with your owners?

I love it. It's an exciting thing because we're building value here. Not everybody understands how to build that value. They know how to do their jobs really well, but in 2006, we basically took 20 or so people and said, “You're a capitalist.” What that means is that you have the capability to create wealth for yourself with zero investment. That's a fantastic thing. It takes years to really develop people to become employee-owners … and that's the challenge for me.

We've heard a lot about a skills gap between the state's public schools and the workforce, especially manufacturers. What do you think is most critical for future employees of Lampin to learn before you hire them?

They need to learn some basics around algebra, geometry and trigonometry … because from there, we can teach them CNC programming, G-code, metrology, supplementary programming with other specialty programming tools that we use and set up in the actual machinery. If they don't have any of (those skills), they need to have the math. Without the math, they will not understand the quantitative portion of the job.

How does that skills gap impact training costs today for your company?

There is definitely an added burden of training on a company like Lampin because we see ourselves as being responsible to develop our own people. If we can get the schools to help us, that's great. But we don't necessarily point the finger at them and say “You have to do it” because we understand the constraints there. We take on the burden of the costs of that training, but we also go back to the state and ask for help with that cost. (Lampin received a $74,000 state development grant for training for two years.) It's a significant element of help.


Bill DiBenedetto, President, Lampin Corp., Uxbridge

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