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Custom Microwave, Inc. Enjoys Astronomical Growth After Re-Focusing their Efforts and Planting a Firm New Foundation
Custom Microwave, Inc. was originally founded by a man named Emory Horvath in 1965 in the state of Florida. In 1971, CMi relocated to Colorado and spent the better part of the past 44 years building high performance radio frequency components and antennae feeds for commercial projects, space exploration, and the military. Although CMi had successfully established themselves as a leader in the field and built an impressive roster of clients, in the mid-1990s they decided to set their sights a lot higher and see how much farther they could expand the business. In 2006, CMi tripled the size of their facility. Today, they now hold a significant share of the market in the United States and are able to offer services in every step of the process from design and manufacturing to high level testing of key satellite components. CMi’s antennae feeds, for example, are located on over 200 satellites either currently or previously been in orbit and are crucial to the transmission of data and images from the far reaches of the galaxy, including recent photos from Pluto transmitted from the New Horizons probe.
Thanks to their expansion and ingenuity, Custom Microwave has seen exponential growth over the past decade. And, while that growth is exciting and inspires them to continue expanding, CMi also realized that they would eventually need to take a step back, reevaluate, reassess, and establish a firm foundation before any further growth would be possible. As CMi president Clency Lee-Yow says, “a small company can make do with simple processes. As you grow, you need to change –fundamentally.”
Simultaneously, Custom Microwave is facing a number of external challenges as well. Chief among them being roadblocks from various government policies, such as the de-authorization of loans from the Export-Import Bank that, CMi estimates, cost them approximately $5M in potential sales in 2015. This is especially disconcerting given the fact that, prior to the de-authorization, 60% of the work that CMi had done in the previous 5 years was made possible by low interest loans from the Ex-Im Bank.
In 2009, Custom Microwave learned about the training opportunities offered by Manufacturer’s Edge (then CAMT) and benefitted greatly from instruction in Lean, Visual Process Mapping, and 5S. Over time, however, they felt the effects of the training they received start to fade and felt they were slipping back into old habits. When CMi decided to re-invest in their future and start building a new, more solid foundation, they knew immediately that they needed to solicit help from Manufacturer’s Edge. This time they wanted something they knew would stick — something that they would adhere to permanently. Thus, a unique arrangement was made whereby Manufacturer’s Edge has been effectively embedded within the organization in order to provide in-depth, hands-on coaching, training/implementation, and policy deployment. Together, they have crafted a focused mission statement, an ambitious 2020 vision, a competitive strategy, specific core goals, and detailed 1-year and 5-year action plans. Their main focus moving forward will be to reduce lead-time and cost while also continuing to expand their offerings. One of the main goals of their 5-year plan is to start designing and building complete antenna systems. As evidence of their hard work and diligence, CMi can already report that in the first month of the first year of their 5-year plan, they are well on their way having just won their first bid on an antenna system for January 2016 with a second expected for June. If this trajectory continues and they are able to capture even 10% of the market with their added services and newly reinforced foundation, they will be able to weather any storm or roadblock thrown their way.
As we go through this journey, there will be a lot of ups and downs and we’ll need to fall back on our core values. Tom Bugnitz and Manufacturer’s Edge have been instrumental in helping us craft a foundation for growth.Clency Lee-Yow, President