AEC Inc., a broad-line auxiliary machinery manufacturer, has announced a restructuring aimed at boosting international sales and bringing engineers, who are responsible for product development, closer to customers. The announcement comes nearly one year after AEC was acquired by St. Louis-based Harbour Group Ltd. AEC had record sales in 1995 of more than $125 million, including income from equipment sales, spare parts and service.
James Janning, president and chief executive officer of Harbour Group, said the reorganization was prompted by increased sales of AEC's key product lines, including chillers, materials-handling systems, size-reduction units and robots.
Richard Winterich, chief financial officer and executive vice president of AEC, said the strategy involves long-term product development and acquisitions or joint ventures.
In the past, he said, AEC had one group of engineers working on research and development to design products and another group that made customized equipment ordered by customers.
``We've combined those two groups,'' Winterich said in a telephone interview in late February.
According to AEC officials, the resulting ``reunification'' of engineering services will improve communication between product marketing managers and designers, and should cut lead time for custom equipment.
Engineers also will be able to plan products better, because they will be placed directly in touch with customers, he said.
``We will endeavor to determine what our customers' processes are going to look like four or five years down the road, and what products they are going to want us to bring to the table,'' Winterich said.
The changes will take place at each of the four AEC divisions: *AEC/Application Engineering, which makes chillers, temperature controllers and heat recovery equipment;
AEC/Nelmor, which makes granulators and shredders;
AEC/Application Automation, a robot supplier;
AEC/Whitlock, which makes equipment for conveying, drying and blending of materials.
AEC, based in Wood Dale, Ill., also announced personnel changes.
Larry Bowman, vice president of sales, is leading the push into international markets.
According to Bowman, AEC is moving to establish a network of sales representatives and parts and distribution outlets in the Far East.
The company already has expanded into South America.
``A lot of companies are shipping equipment overseas, but they don't have the parts or service to back it up,'' Bowman said.
AEC wants to expand into equipment for nonplastics applications, such as die-casting and laser cooling. Bowman will lead that effort as well.
Rich Achor, formerly vice president of sales for industrial markets, has been named vice president of AEC/Whitlock.
Edward Ronca has been named vice president of AEC/Nelmor. He had been Nelmor's vice president for sales and marketing.
James Knudsen, former vice president of marketing and engineering, now is vice president of AEC/Application Automation.
Knudsen also temporarily will lead AEC/Application Engineer-ing. Winterich said AEC is seeking a permanent head for the chiller unit.
Harbour Group is a holding company that buys small and midsized manufacturers. Harbour owns more than 60 companies, with combined sales of more than $1 billion.