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Front Page » March 29, 2007 » Business focus » Bigger, Better & Leaner
Published 3,113 days ago

Bigger, Better & Leaner

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A Carbon County based business is honored as the best in the state

The new Intermountain Electronics building with the steel framework up in January of 2005.
John Houston stands with his son Bobby and Tom Akers after the award was presented at WETC on March 6.
The new Intermountain Electronics building in its finished form as it sits today.

In the last couple of years, Intermountain Electronics, located east of Price on Highway 6, has built a large new building to operate out of.

But they have built more than that, based on events of the past month. They also have built a reputation as one of the best manufacturing firms in Utah.

That point came to light this past month when the company was honored by the Manufacturing Partnership as Utah manufacturer of the year.

That honor, presented by Lieutenant Governor Gary Herbert, was pressed home when the company was honored by a presentation and luncheon at the Western Energy Training Center on March 6.

"We are proud to honor John Houston and his company with this award," said Paul Olsen, a representative of MEP. "The company has taken innovation in what they do to new heights."

Intermountain Electronics, Inc. is a Utah based corporation with headquarters in Price and manufacturing, sales and service facilities in Grand Junction, Colo., Henderson, Ky. and Bluefield, W. VA. Intermountain Electronics, Inc. has been manufacturing large electrical distribution and control systems primarily for energy related industries for over 21 years.

"Three years ago Dave Sorensen of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership visited and he introduced the MEP to us," said John Houston, the president of Intermountain Electronics, in comments he made at the WETC luncheon. "We didn't know it even existed. Since that introduction they have assisted us in establishing an intern program for engineering students. They also trained us in lean manufacturing principals, as well as assisting in the design and layout of our new factory."

The company is a Utah based corporation specializing in the manufacturing and repair of electrical distribution and control equipment for use in harsh environments, such as those encountered in surface and underground mining, various manufacturing plants, power generation plants, oil and gas generation and refineries.

Most energy related businesses are experiencing a high demand for their products and services. Intermountain Electronics projected this upturn several years ago, and in 2003 expanded their facility in Price to over 125,000 square feet of manufacturing, engineering and office space. The goal was to become a world-class manufacturer.

The senior managers of Intermountain Electronics understood that it would be essential to significantly increase the level of efficiency and productivity in order to compete in a global market. With help from the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Intermountain Electronics was able to design a state-of-the-art facility with high levels of sophistication and automation.

Since the expansion, Intermountain has increased the volume of business by 300 percent with another expansion scheduled for the summer of 2007.

"The recent upturn in energy related industries has allowed us to grow and expand our business," explained Houston. "We are also planning another expansion to our Price facility this summer."

The recent success of Intermountain Electronics can be attributed to the implementation of five new programs.

•Enterprise resource planning. This is a software program that is integrated into every aspect of the business. It improves scheduling, material management, manpower allocation, machine time management, and work flow management. When fully implemented, this program is projected to reduce burden and overhead costs by 27 percent.

•Growth through acquisitions of lucrative, value-added companies. Intermountain Electronics acquired a resale supply group that added a whole new customer base, as well as, providing opportunities to target existing customers with new products and services.

•Lean enterprise and six sigma principles. These tools helped keep the company focused on continuing improvements and increasing quality along with reducing waste. The new facility was designed around lean manufacturing principles. This allows a large facility to operate as if it were one half the size.

•Customer/Supplier satisfaction management. Intermountain Electronics has implemented a program that monitors the level of satisfaction of both the customers and suppliers. It is the goal of the program to establish the expectations of the customers and suppliers and then make sure to exceed those expectations. This program has paid big benefits. The results have been lower prices and better service from the suppliers and increased opportunities from the customers.

•Global marketing. Intermountain Electronics developed a global marketing strategy that has provided project opportunities in Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe and Asia.

Intermountain Electronics Incorporated has had a remarkable 24 months. This is a direct result of the employees dedication and extra efforts. To have a major manufacturing facility located in rural Utah can be challenging to say the least, but with the support of the employees, customers, suppliers and organizations like Manufacturing Extension Partnership, the challenges that come from growth and change are far less than the challenges of staying the same.

Intermountain Electronics, Inc. has made it a priority to take advantage of the momentum it has built to carry the company into new markets and territories inside the United States and globally.

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