The Pasco-Hernando Workforce Board voted Accuform Signs the “best place to work in Hernando County in 2009.”
Accuform manufactures signs for many different industrial applications, primarily relating to workplace safety. Their primary markets are manufacturing, mining and utilities.
Marketing Director Brad Montgomery explained, “We make products that are visible to workers on a daily basis. They identify hazardous workplace conditions, help employees understand company policies, or help people exit buildings in emergency situations.
“Locally you might see our products posted in the Brooksville rock quarry or Walmart distribution center. Internationally you could find them on a military base in Afghanistan or a ship transporting goods between Asia and North America.”
Accuform opened in New Port Richey in 1976. Wayne and his older brother David Johnson, president, took control of the business when their parents retired several years ago.
Wayne handles the sales, marketing, and IT technical side while Dave’s forte is manufacturing, operations and engineering. Rounding out the current management team is Customer Care Director John Murphy and Marketing Director Montgomery.
Accuform moved to Brooksville in the 1980s. In 2003 they relocated their manufacturing to a 67,500-square-foot facility in the Airport Industrial Park. Their original 11,000-square-foot Brooksville building is still used for warehouse space.
The sign saga is still in the making. The company continues to grow despite tough economic factors.
They just hired their first bi-lingual customer service rep and first full-time design engineer. They hired two new people in April and seven in March.
Johnson says they are already outgrowing their current location and have purchased 20 acres off Edward R. Noll Drive where they someday plan to build a consolidated 150,000-square-foot facility.
“Hernando County is a great place to own a business,” stated Johnson. “It’s convenient, an easy commute, easy to recruit to and we have a good supply chain.”
He added that while others in their industry had sales down 30 percent in 2009, their sales remained flat. During the 2001 recession they were up 1 percent when the market was down 20 percent.
How does a business do well in tough times? For Accuform it’s a combination of drive, determination and “leap of faith” marketing that calls for putting the hammer down with aggressive sales and marketing campaigns, and a manufacturing push. “We capitalize on gaining market share,” stated Johnson.
Montgomery explained: “Where many of our competitors pulled back to weather the storm, we essentially did the opposite. We viewed the downturn as an opportunity. We know the market eventually returns, if sometimes different. We saw the opportunity to build a foundation for the future.
“It was our hope we would have done enough hard work so we would stand ready the moment the market turned. This involved employee training, investment in new printing technologies and increased spending in marketing and other key factors.
“From our view the market is turning and the hard work of each Accuform employee is coming to fruition. But, we understand this isn’t the time to celebrate or relax; it’s actually a time to work even harder.”
Nobody at Accuform seems to mind working harder. Their manufacturing environment includes many progressive programs to train, monitor, and assist their 218 employees with work, health, family and environment-related matters.
Company values are displayed on almost every wall.
Environmental awareness is promoted through “Earth Day” contests and other events. They’re on a quest to be completely paperless. Wall-mounted or standing monitors allow workers to view needed information and update job status.
There’s a “wellness center” with exercise equipment and monthly $10 haircuts. The cafeteria features subsidized hot food (meals cost $2.50), 25-cent sodas, a salad bar, healthy snacks and something less common: Laptops so manufacturing employees can check e-mail or surf the Internet.
Laptops in a training room help new hires and current employees do required and optional training, including learning new software programs.
Customer service representative Sonja Osborne leads the “Accuform Angels” who raise funds for charities throughout the year.
Digitron operator Jesse Ovaitte recently donated a weeks’ paycheck to cancer research by purchasing 218 purple bracelets and giving one to every employee.
Johnson highlighted an intern success story. “We hired a new employee, Mike Miller, right out of Nature Coast high school as an intern to help our IT manager.
We sent him to school in California for robotics. He just programmed our very first robot. We’ve been able to secure talent from local schools. There’s a lot of potential in some of our interns.”
They’ve transitioned their traditional screen and offset print processes to an efficient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly digital process.
Accuform doesn’t see any slowdown in the near future. The rest of 2010 will see more new product development, a focus on new product launches and services. They will continue to purchase new equipment to support their many efforts.
“We’re running more than one shift now, and are close to starting a third,” commented Johnson. As of this printing Accuform has five new openings in their production areas. Contact them for details on application requirements.
Accuform hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Ordering and information is available 24/7 on their website.
BIZ AT A GLANCE
Name: Accuform Manufacturing
Location: 16228 Flight Path Drive, Brooksville
Telephone: 352-799-5434 or 800-237-1001
Website: www.accuform .com