by Bob Zaruta, President/CEO, NWIRC

We’re into the new year and many manufacturing companies across the region are re-igniting their visions for 2020. For a couple of companies that I visited in North Central PA before the holidays, they are steadying the course with their focus on customers and employees.

(L-R) Bob Zaruta, NWIRC; Roger Jones, Sintergy; Tom Weible, NWIRC; and Steve Miller, Sintergy

Sintergy is a manufacturer of compacted powder metal products in Reynoldsville and they shine in their ability to take a fabricated design – and redevelop as an assembled part made with pressed metal for increased durability and reduced waste. They pride themselves on supporting regional businesses and consider one of their differentiators to be their “employee experience and make it happen attitude”. Founders, President Rick Young, CFO Steve Miller, and Vice President Jason Emery, reminisced about the company starting in a Punxsutawney barn in 2002 with 15 people. They moved to their existing 42,500 square foot location ten years ago and explained how everything was carefully planned out for optimal workflow. Consideration for future expansions is a clear sign of their forward thinking. They’ve expanded twice since then and you could see excitement and passion for the company’s progress as Steve and Facilities Director Roger Jones showed me around. During the tour, three themes stood out the most regarding the company’s focus: employees, technology, and sustainability (being green). Their 68 employees are engaged and benefit from incentives that help the company reduce attendance issues and focus on the bottom line. This includes offering vouchers to employees for zero call-offs during a pay period which apply towards a monthly attendance bonus, as well as profit sharing based on a percentage of profit and allocated based on employee’s earnings. A calendar in the facility break room displays dates for bonus and profit- sharing distributions to keep employees excited and on the right track.

Sintergy employee, Kim Wehry, works with machine vision

Sintergy buys local whenever they can, from capital equipment to raw materials, including custom presses and sintering furnaces from Gasbarre Products in DuBois (my next stop later that day). Sintergy spent over $8M locally last year. The plant is full of automation, including a row of custom presses by Gasbarre, each with its own crane for loading raw material for both efficiency and employee safety. Regarding some of their newest technology, machine vision, Steve said, “this is amazing technology that allows us to save time and improve accuracy for quality inspections”.
Sintergy is very conscientious about a sustainable environment. Their green scrap is all re-used, so it’s actually not considered scrap. They repurpose hexagon boxes produced by a local recycling company for holding raw material, but then a local lumbering company will turn the box into a square for shipping finished products to customers. They recycle their water and also allow hot water from the furnaces to cool naturally in a holding area that helps keep the loading dock area warm. Most recently, they estimate saving approximately $3K per month since replacing their facility lighting with LEDs.

(L-R) Tom Weible, NWIRC; Heath Jenkins, Gasbarre; Mike Matko, Gasbarre, and Bob Zaruta, NWIRC in front of a 550T Multi-Motion press being rebuilt for a local customer

As mentioned, Sintergy is a customer of Gasbarre Products in DuBois. Gasbarre started in 1973 as a manufacturer of mechanical presses. Throughout the years, they have diversified by purchasing a furnace company and augmenting with tooling- all to align with their powder metal clients in the region and around the world. This diversification continues as they work with clients on other automation solutions that are connected to working with their products. Going into 2020, Gasbarre continues their focus on community, their employees, and continuous improvement. They recently completed a ‘design sprint’, the first phase of an operational excellence project with NWIRC and the expertise of Max Krug of Future State Engineering. Leadership felt it was imperative to engage key employees in the project early on to help with the direction. Heath Jenkins, President of Press and Automation, said they are always looking to become better in operations, do things more efficiently, and become more profitable. He said the recent design sprint project was important for them to create a roadmap for future improvements and as a result they “identified 30 key processes to focus on that, when optimized, will have an outsized and positive ripple effect throughout the organization”. He acknowledged his appreciation for organizations in the region, such as NWIRC, to point companies in the right direction for available resources.

Gasbarre continues to work on new ideas to keep powder metal competitive in North Central PA. Heath said, “we see what powered metal (PM) markets are doing across the US and world-wide, so we see ourselves in bridging the gap between traditional PM and what PM will be in the future.”

Sintergy and Gasbarre, just two of the companies in our region with a clear vision for 2020.