Greg Woods has been the heir apparent at West Warwick electronics manufacturer Astro-Med since being hired as chief operating officer in the fall of 2012, as part of the company’s strategic growth plan. Around the same time the Rochester, N.Y. native officially took over as CEO at the end of January, Astro-Med announced the $6.7 million acquisition of competitor Miltope Corp.’s line of aviation printers. It was the first of what Woods hopes will be a series of expansion initiatives and will bring manufacturing now done in Alabama to the Ocean State. The average consumer will likely never come in direct contact with Astro-Med’s specialized printers and data-acquisition devices, but Woods says they have a bright future.
PBN: How did Astro-Med come out of the recession and how does it fit into your current strategy?
WOODS: I came in 2012 and we were already out of the recession by that point. It did affect us like everyone else, but to a certain extent we are a little immune. Some of our businesses are not cyclical. When I came onboard we were in four different businesses and we sold the medical products business a little over a year ago. … While it was a nice help getting through the downturn, it was a slow-growth company. … We decided to use the cash to grow our other platforms. That was the strategy we put together in 2012 and said we want to transition from a stable company growing at slow-to-moderate pace to one growing more rapidly. Organically last year we were growing at a double-digit pace and just acquired Miltope’s printer-product line, which was a competitor.
PBN: Is the growth strategy focused on capturing market share in your three existing markets or branching out into new areas and product lines?
WOODS: Primarily the former. What we are looking to do in those product lines – quick-label systems, data acquisition and aviation printers – we are looking to grow market share. That is part of the three-year plan. We might expand beyond that, but 2014 is year two of this plan and we want to focus on building up the business within those three product lines. That will keep us busy. While we are growing the top line we want to improve the profitability of the company and that has a lot to do with operations excellence, what some people call “lean,” to improve the daily operations.