Exploring China, but Building at Home

This month's special report "Going Abroad," p. 36, addresses the trend of many U.S. M/E/P engineering firms pursuing overseas opportunities in the manufacturing sector. Ft. Smith, Ark.-based motor and drives manufacturer Baldor is no exception. In fact, according to Randy Breaux, the company's director of marketing, Baldor exports nearly $10 million worth of product to China alone.

11/01/2004


This month's special report "Going Abroad," p. 36, addresses the trend of many U.S. M/E/P engineering firms pursuing overseas opportunities in the manufacturing sector. Ft. Smith, Ark.-based motor and drives manufacturer Baldor is no exception. In fact, according to Randy Breaux, the company's director of marketing, Baldor exports nearly $10 million worth of product to China alone. It's also recently opened up sales offices in Japan, India and Latin America and expects 20% internation growth next year after more than $100 million in international sales this year.

But one thing it has not opened overseas is a new plant. In fact, the company is building a brand new, $10 million facility in Columbus, Miss., to replace an existing operation that has simply outgrown its building. "Our goal is to remain a U.S.-based manufacturer," said Breaux.

At the same time, Breaux noted during a recent press event at its HQ, the company very much recognizes the need to modernize and is taking significant steps to further automate its operations. For example, Mike Ballman, manager of the commerical motors plant, noted their new $3.5 million automated operation is able to function with only three people vs. 90 in the past.

That said, Breaux is quick to point out that the company doesn't let go of those displaced workers; it finds them new jobs. In general, the machine tools business is a hot market for the company, as is pump and conveyor motors. One major challenge it faces, according to president John McFarland, is dealing with rising copper and steel prices.





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