Jade Manufacturing’s precision is mission-critical

TABLE TALK: From left, Jade Manufacturing President Don Boyle discusses a component with Quality Manager Ron Olf, Assembly Manager Donald Campbell, Vice President Chris Burch and Director of Manufacturing Steve Gruner.  
 / PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY
TABLE TALK: From left, Jade Manufacturing President Don Boyle discusses a component with Quality Manager Ron Olf, Assembly Manager Donald Campbell, Vice President Chris Burch and Director of Manufacturing Steve Gruner. 
 / PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY

Jade Manufacturing Co.
Overall Excellence, fewer than 50 employees | 2019 PBN Manufacturing Awards


Specializing in “build-to-print” mechanical assemblies and precision components for radar and reconnaissance systems, family-owned Jade Manufacturing Co. is reaping lots of recognition.

The Warwick company is a seven-time winner of the Operational Excellence Supplier award from Raytheon Co., one of Jade’s most significant customers. Jade President Don Boyle was named the Manufacturer of the Year in 2018 by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Even with those accolades and a backlog of work in the pipeline, Jade is looking to evaluate new business markets and to identify opportunities for improvement. Participating in Polaris MEP’s Manufacturing Innovation Challenge and working with Bryant University, the SBA, Rhode Island Manufacturers Association and the Southeastern New England Defense Industry Alliance, among others, has been invaluable, according to Boyle.

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“There’s a lot going on for small manufacturers like us who want to take advantage of it, and we’ve received funding on some of these projects from the state,” Boyle said.

Jade’s 2018 strategic plan, which evolved from some of these collaborations, pinpoints several opportunities in commercial and military markets: satellites, autonomous underwater vehicles, drones, aerospace, energy storage, railroad signaling systems and uninterruptable power-supply systems.

‘We want to support the [military] fighters out there. It permeates everything we do.’
DON BOYLE, Jade Manufacturing president

With a commitment to ensuring its quality-control systems are up to date and first-rate, Jade is pursuing AS9100 quality certification, a massive, yearlong undertaking that involves upgrading and revamping the entire quality-management system. “We’re trying to keep ahead and be prepared … to jump into the next big [opportunity],” Jade Vice President Chris Burch said. The company will maintain certification for both AS9100 and its existing ISO 9001:2015.

The new AS9100 certification – expected by year’s end – will give Jade a competitive edge, especially in producing components for defense contractors, said Boyle, a son of company founder Arthur Boyle. “There’s a huge opportunity in military business … we don’t see it slowing down for a very long time,” he said. “We’re booked up and now making decisions about where we want to be. We’re in a great position.”

Jade “takes a lot of pride in doing things right,” Boyle said. “We want to support the [military] fighters out there. It permeates everything we do.”

That attitude is put to the test. Jade ships more than 1,400 products with more than 200,000 individual components every year, while maintaining a 98.1 percent quality rating and 98.6 percent on-time delivery to Raytheon, even as it must respond to frequent product specification changes made by the federal government and the company’s customers.

“There’s a lot to manage in terms of updating specifications; it’s a constant thing we’re working on,” said Burch, Don Boyle’s son-in-law. “[Many] different government institutions notify us when changes are made and we work closely with Raytheon. [There’s a] constant flow of communication back and forth.”

“Our ability to stay with the specifications and find sources that give us material or process applications to meet the [changing] specifications, that distinguishes us from a lot of other manufacturers,” Boyle said. “That’s what makes us very different from a commercial operation … which wouldn’t have as many specifications.”

Asked to identify examples of Jade products, Burch said, “We can make anything from a screw assembly to a door frame; we make passive components for radar systems and a lot of work for Patriot missile systems, both legacy and up-and-coming [programs].” Calling Jade a “one-stop shop,” he added, “We’re not afraid to try anything once. We don’t turn work away and we figure it out.”

Burch and Boyle attributed the company’s ability to meet customer expectations to these factors: A sophisticated quality-control system, lean-manufacturing principles, close affiliations with their suppliers, many of them Rhode Island-based, and a highly skilled pool of about 20 cross-trained employees, many of whom have worked for Jade for decades.

The diligence has paid off. The company said it has increased revenue 5 percent each of the past five years.

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