There was a time, really not that long ago, that it wasn't clear Styrotek Inc. was going to survive.
The maker of expanded polystyrene boxes used to ship table grapes around the country and around the world had a troublesome infrastructure that led to inconsistent production and even unexpected shutdowns.
The future was far from certain.
But these days, a little more than a year after CEO Richard Lindenmuth came on board, the company has rebounded thanks to investments that have not only led to improved employee morale but also created excess production capacity that now can lead to company growth.
The Delano, Calif.-based company dates back to 1973 when it was founded by a local grape growers association. Ownership eventually consolidated to the Caratan family, which has been growing grapes in the San Joaquin Valley for 90 years.
“We have actually increased the productivity of the factory by almost 40 percent,” said Lindenmuth, a turnaround specialist who has helped several companies over his more than 30 years in business.
“We were able to put together a system and an infrastructure that uses less water and recycles water, uses less energy and less steam and less natural gas,” Lindenmuth said. “We're becoming more and more energy efficient. And in doing this, we were able to cut the machine time to produce our products by almost 50 percent.”
Lindenmuth is managing partner for Verto Partners LLC, which bills itself as a corporate strategy, operational improvement and financial advisory firm.