ACM Annual Meeting at Yarde Metals

Yesterday, the Aerospace Components Manufacturers held its Annual President’s Meeting at Yarde Metals in Southington, Connecticut. ACM started as an industry cluster more than 10 years ago. Three founding members have been with the non-profit industry group since the beginning, but now, 62 members belong. Small and mid-sized Connecticut and Massachusetts companies are part of the group. Four teams are at the core of ACM’s mission:

1) Progressive Manufacturing Team (Lean Enterprise) 

2) Business Development Team

3) Workforce Development Team

4) Consolidated Purchasing Team

At yesterday’s meeting, I spoke on a panel that focused on strategic planning tools. There was a capacity crowd at Yarde, with more than half of ACM’s member companies represented. It was good to see the strong turnout and good to hear that many manufacturers were seeing better business conditions than a year ago. Everyone was cautious about using the “R” word for recovery, but most companies were upbeat about future prospects in the notoriously cyclical aerospace market. Diversification and new product development was a big theme.

Yarde Metals is a special company. They have been a long time Horst Engineering supplier and are lauded for their ingenuity and award-winning culture. When the business was owned by the Yarde Family, they grew dramatically. It is storybook stuff, having started very small, like most businesses. They have grown up to be a large enterprise with hundreds of employees at multiple locations. More than 300 people work at the Southington headquarters and distribution center. Yarde was sold to Reliance Steel and Aluminum in 2006, but the Yarde Family is still involved.

The facility is amazing. The company is known for its progressive human resource policies. Many of them garnered national attention when they were first launched years ago. They make their own coffee beans, they have an indoor driving range, an indoor putting range, a walking track, a nap room, doggy day care, a cafe, a museum, and a host of other innovative features. The lobby of the facility is amazing, housing the museum, the cafe, the coffee shop, a full size vintage delivery truck, and an array of antiques.  You get a sense of what the company is about the moment you walk through the front doors.

When you leave a place like Yarde Metals, you leave inspired to return to your business and make your own improvements.

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