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With an appetite for business growth and a keen eye for emerging trends, President and Chief Operating Officer Chris White of Fruitland Manufacturing is leading the way in the business discipline of “continuous improvement.”
With entrepreneurial origins in a very successful family-owned materials handling business, Chris White’s foundation for success was seeded in the understanding that people’s continuous improvement was key. As the President and General Manager of his family-owned business, Chris was the visionary who grew the company into a resounding success. The family business was expectedly merged with a larger firm and that’s when Chris’s attentions turned to other avenues where he could assist in building another business.
Like most successful entrepreneurs, Chris’s mastery of people development, market development, business analysis, manufacturing, service delivery, project management, and leadership fuelled his ambitions forward – landing him at Fruitland Manufacturing as a partner with Rodney Bader and head of operations running the day-to-day business.
Based in Stoney Creek, Ontario, Canada, Fruitland Manufacturing clients span the world over, and they support an array of oil and gas clients who rely on the company’s products for their vacuuming needs. Helmut Bader founded Fruitland Manufacturing in 1957 as Fruitland Tool and Manufacturing. Originally, the company focused on tool and die fabrication but, by the 1970s, Fruitland turned its attention to vacuum pumps. Since introducing its first pump in the 1970’s, Fruitland Manufacturing now offers eight different models of vacuum pumps and integrated vacuum systems for many different industries.
Although the Fruitland pumps serve a variety of applications, the company’s largest market for its products recently have been oil and gas operators using hydraulic fracturing. With the fracking boom transforming the North American oil production market, Fruitland has effectively captured the lion’s share of business in the USA. Chris’s vision is now focused on Canada and building the business they provide in Eastern and Western Canada.
Chris says, “While fracking has dominated the world as new oil play, we are also at a time of low oil prices. It’s an interesting dynamic. During this time of low oil prices it’s a great time to rethink, retool, and look at better ways of improvement to strengthen our effectiveness. So that’s what we are doing. Our goal is to develop people’s latent abilities and we support them with training and continuous improvement. At Fruitland we have integrated a program called FIT – Fruitland Innovates with Technology. FIT is a process of streamlining and an effective continuous improvement program that allows us to innovate with technology.”
The Fruitland culture clearly understands that the ability to be great is in the power of our people. With approximately 60 people on board, the company fosters a culture for people who bring their talents forward and are inspired to make a difference. Creating continuous improvement and leadership within our people is probably the most important thing we do. Chris says, “Just recently one of our Lead Hands, Norm (who works in the Eliminator assembly area), brought forward a set of key ideas regarding material flow that we hadn’t even thought about implementing. Since it is [the] early days for FIT, more and more involvement from staff at all levels will make this successful, and that’s the power of our people in action”.
Lean Manufacturing is the hot topic of the day, especially with lowering oil prices. However, most people seem to misunderstand the concept of Lean. Chris clarifies, “Lean Manufacturing does not mean cutbacks or layoffs of people – what it really means is a commitment to not do that. Rather than lay off people as a result of lean practices, we focus on empowering our people with new and innovative business processes and solutions. We believe this is the only way to be resilient and able to handle changes. We live in a technologically advancing time with the possibility of exponential growth – we are committed to harnessing that.”
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