As long as its customers and employees are satisfied, BBS Automation says the sky is the limit when it comes to growth. By Bianca Herron
BBS Automation provides assembly and testing systems for clients in the life sciences, automotive, energy and energy storage industries, many of who are Fortune 500 companies. In addition, the Bartlett, Ill.-based company performs contract manufacturing for customers that require multiple machines to be built.
Along with its Bartlett, Ill., location, BBS Automation has two facilities in Germany (including the Group Headquarters), two in China, one in Malaysia and an engineering office in Canada. The company is currently in the process of expanding into Mexico, according to Group Chief Operating Officer and President Darragh Staunton.
“BBS Automation is privately owned by industry leaders in the automation world, setting it apart from its competitors,” Staunton says. “The owners and managers of the company have spent their entire lives in the automation industry. They understand what it means to get a customized piece of automation built, which is something that our competitors don’t.”
Although there are multiple automation companies today, the original entrepreneurs are no longer running the businesses, Staunton notes. “They have either handed it off or sold to a larger company. So people who are not necessarily from the industry and/or have not grown up in it are leading these companies,” he says. “That’s why we emphasize hiring management that comes from the industry because that means they understand it.
“In all of our divisions, we understand that to offer our clients the best we have to have the best, and that comes with hiring those who are well versed in the industry,” Staunton continues. “That’s why we started an apprentice program where we take recent high school graduates and educate them in the art of customized machine building. So we train them and hope that they stay in the industry. We like to home-grow our people; that’s very important to us.”
BBS Automation further sets itself apart from competitors by catering to its international customers on a local level. “Some customers that we work with have locations in Asia or Europe,” Staunton explains. “For them we can engineer a product and then deploy that system into other regions of the world. So we can not only help our customers but, for example, we can also be very competitive supporting a United States-based customer by building them a production machine for them here in America, for America. Then we’ll build in China for China. We serve our customers locally and that’s not something that everyone does.”
When it comes to its customers, BBS Automation supports them and is growing right along with them, Staunton notes proudly.
“We’re very selective as to which projects we involve ourselves with,” he explains. “We like to get involved in complex, high-volume projects that bring value to our customers. Year after year, our growth plan expands and consistently supports our customers. That’s really what we focus our service on: delivering world-class solutions to make them successful, which in turn helps us grow.”
BBS Automation also says its supplier’s play an invaluable role in its growth. “Our suppliers are very much a key part of our delivery to our customers,” Staunton says. “Over the years we have developed very strategic relationships with our suppliers. So we share our pipeline deals, allow them to see what we’re quoting and what they’re forecasted, so they can also prepare for components and the things that we need.”
In addition, the company’s new facility in Bartlett, Ill., was built this year with room for expansion. “The facility was designed around building customized automation and to increase the collaboration among our departments within the company, which is immensely beneficial.” Staunton says.
BBS plans to add 100 employees at the Bartlett facility in 2017. “We plan to gain it through the pipeline we have right now and are working very closely with our customers to understand their needs,” Staunton explains. “As I mentioned, as our customers grow so will we. So to support that need I have to ensure that I make that investment and have the people to be able to support that growth.”
One way BBS Automation plans on supporting that growth is by taking on more apprentices this year, which is a very high priority for the company, according to Staunton.
“Once they graduate and come on board, they will be distributed over a number of departments, including the machinery, tool making, engineering and design,” he says. “So there are multiple opportunities for kids coming out of school, and that’s how we’ll put that headcount into place. It coincides with my mantra: If you want to eat good vegetables you have to grow them yourself.”
Ultimately, BBS Automation is most proud of the value it brings to its customers and of the satisfaction of its employees. “Those two things for us come first,” Staunton concludes. “We pride ourselves on being privately owned and not having the pressure of a stock market to perform. We measure our success by a satisfied customer seeing value in what we offer and a satisfied, motivated workforce that is growing.”