Courtesy Corp., our 1998 Processor of the Year, has proved it is particularly effective at dealing with a dangerous entity: growth.
This assertion may seem odd to our many readers who work for or own aggressive, privately held processing companies. After all, growth and profitability are often their most important goals.
But a company like Courtesy — started in co-founder Walter Kreiseder's garage 26 years ago — gets to see growth to a degree that few can imagine. Taking a company from a few employees to a few hundred or more frequently can threaten the very fabric of what made a company successful in the first place.
Courtesy has experienced so much growth in recent years that we have trouble ourselves keeping track of the expansion. When we hear that Kreiseder and partner Jerry Sommers are planning a new 185,000-square-foot building with 100-plus Krauss-Maffei presses, the first thing we have to ask is if this is a new expansion, or one we've already written about. Most times, it seems, it's new.
Having a good strategy and hiring and retaining the right people to carry it out are keys.
Courtesy has been very successful with a formula that is familiar to many injection molders — become successful at designing and creating innovative tooling for a product, and then use excellent technology for efficient molding. But unlike many other molders, Courtesy has not grown through acquisition — yet. This is a company that has had success actually creating new capacity and winning business that previously didn't exist, rather than buying and trying to expand upon another company's market position.
Kreiseder and Sommers hint that their strategy may be in line for a change. Already, Courtesy has expanded beyond its Chicago-area base with a plant to open in North Carolina. Now Courtesy executives suggest they may be ready to grow through acquisition.
Time will tell if they can be as successful at buying business and market share as they have been in growing their own.