Keys to success for Tucson’s CAID Industries

June 21, 2016

By William R. Assenmacher Special to the Arizona Daily Star  • Jan 24, 2015

Editor’s note: After CAID Industries was named Manufacturer of the Year by the Arizona Technology Council in October, the Tucson company’s CEO Bill Assenmacher’s was quoted in the Star saying, “We’re rocking and rolling.”

In business terms, that translated to growth of the company’s industrial automation division from mid-2012 revenues of $550,000 to $10 million in 2013. Overall corporate revenues increased from $41 million in 2013 to $56 million in 2014, according to Assenmacher.

We asked Assenmacher to write about his philosophy and drive to expand so rapidly — and successfully — at a time that many have called uncertain for business.

What has allowed us to expand and set a “record” amount of new business (a more than 30 percent increase for 2014)?

1. Think globally: Chase after customers and technology that makes sense for our company size and our business model.

2. Hire talented staff that is motivated and wants to make a difference.

3. Give them a vision of where we are going as a company and how they fit in.

4. Make sure the compensation is there when they meet your expectations.

5. Engage all employees at every level, meet with them, share goals, challenges and explain how they can fit in and how they can become more valuable.

6. Take care of your own. Giving great benefits, including major medical, life insurance and retirement plans is a must. CAID has both a 401k profit-sharing plan and an ESOP — Employee Stock Ownership Plan.

7. Be very community-minded both internally by knowing your staff and how we as a company can be engaged in the community. Use company strengths and skill to make a difference in the lives of your employees and your community.

8. We don’t buy anything we can’t afford. I came for a poor family and learned that you make the money first before you spend it. We spent approximately $8 million in the last 18 months for new plant and equipment purchases. None of that money was borrowed.

Why we have kept most of our jobs in Tucson and have not expanded into other cities?

Our vision was to be the best, not necessarily to be everywhere. Our focus is to keep management, quality control, administration, production and our equipment in one major location, here in Tucson. Being efficient and maintaining focus on a daily basis is essential in manufacturing. CAID has benefited by hiring the underemployed and people who like to live in Tucson because of the lifestyle and climate.

How have we dealt with the recession and up-and-down cycles of business?

We always look ahead! Yes, we know our customers. However, much of our attention is directed at where the company needs to be by year end and what the outlook is for next year. We hired talented people — many looking for a better job or a company with interesting work.

We have used an old tag line for many years, “Innovators of Manufacturing Technology.” In the last three years we have expanded significantly, including three additions totaling almost 100,000 square feet of manufacturing space, 13 more acres of land to our campus, plus several million dollars in new equipment. During the past year we also rented two industrial buildings near the airport for another 30,000 square feet of additional space. CAID has hired 70 people in the last two years.

How do we survive in Tucson, which is known not to be very business-friendly?

The answer is that we do less than 5 percent of our work in Tucson/Pima County. Some years, half of our work is exported to other countries. Over the last three years, our export business averaged 40 percent of our sales.

Because Tucson is a real tough place to get a good job, we have the pick of the litter. It’s still easier to find a young engineer to come to work for us than an experienced welder.