Chris Weiser, president and CEO of J.V. Manufacturing in Springdale, has been appointed to the Manufacturing Extension Partnership Advisory Board of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The institute is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Weiser was appointed to a three-year term on the advisory board, which provides direction to the NIST director on the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program.
The program consists of centers throughout the United States that provide consulting services, leading manufacturing companies to become more profitable and competitive. Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions in Little Rock, as part of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, serves as the center for the program in Arkansas. Weiser’s first board meeting will be April 30 in Denver.
“I will be, hopefully, helping other manufacturers in the state and maybe across the country become aware of MEP, the opportunities that they present to manufacturers to help improve their productivity and profitability,” Weiser said.
Weiser is the only Arkansan on the board. It meets three times per year and has a minimum of 10 members.
J.V. Manufacturing, which produces Cram-A-Lot garbage compactors and recycling balers, has past experience with the program, and MEP center staff trained company management on lean manufacturing. Staff found “a lot of wasted time” and helped to balance workflow, “so it was much more efficient,” Weiser said. The result was a 50% reduction in the amount of time it took to build a piece of equipment. The company recently went through another round to improve productivity. Weiser said this time he would be happy with a 10% improvement.
Weiser plans to take his experience with the program and “reinforce the program.” He’s also chairman of the board for Arkansas Institute for Performance Excellence, which administers the Governor’s Quality Award Program. In 2014, J.V. Manufacturing earned the award, and he expects to try for the award again in 2018.
J.V. Manufacturing also has a manufacturing plant in Conway, which it began operating Jan. 1, 2000. In early 2016, the company invested $500,000 into a new steel press for the plant, allowing it to bend steel. Previously, only the Springdale plant could do this. The press should pay for itself in three years, Weiser said.
The company also operates three service centers, two in Texas and one in California. About 25% of the company’s business is service and has more than 300 service providers.
“We’re typically their biggest customer,” Weiser said about the providers. So when a job needs to be completed, they handle it quickly.
J.V. Manufacturing has about 150 large customers and nearly 1,500 smaller customers.
Weiser said his educational background is mechanical engineering.
“As a mechanical engineer you like to tinker,” he said. “I don’t do much tinkering anymore.”
He stepped out of that role about 15 years ago to invest his time into running the company, which has 220 employees at its manufacturing plants and service centers. Over the past five to six years, Weiser said he’s been delegating duties to his children, who are taking on leadership roles in the company. While he said he doesn’t have a timeline for succession, a plan is in place so they will be ready to take over the business if needed.
“They don’t need to run the business yet,” Weiser said.
But when they do, his children will be the third generation to run the family business. “We’re very much a family-oriented culture,” and this was something his mother instilled into the company.
The company offers an unlimited number of products based on each customer’s need, but it has 50-60 base products. About 35 to 40 products are balers for recyclables, such as cardboard. Its top selling product is a 60-inch vertical baler, which can make 1,000-pound bales of cardboard. Second, is the trash compactors, such as the ones behind Walmart stores.
While the company doesn’t have a new product in the works, it recently released a horizontal auto tie baler. The $150,000 baler automatically ties cardboard bales, instead of having to manually tie them. The company worked with its customers who provided feedback on the product in order to improve it.
J.V. Manufacturing was established in 1978, and Weiser has owned the company for more than 20 years.