The fact that more manufacturing companies are bringing their operations back to U.S. soil from overseas markets is good news for the manufacturing industry as a whole, but KTR, in particular, is excited about the growth it can generate for its company. As a global operation, KTR can serve its clients on a local or regional basis, depending on their location. In addition, its quality program ensures that regardless of which location creates the product or component, customers’ exacting standards are met.

“More domestic companies need local supply and we are serving European companies who locate here because of the currency fluctuation and supply chain efficiencies,” says Bill Ketcham, CEO of KTR USA. “Many large companies are moving a substantial amount of production back to the United States. As a global company, we are very attractive to these companies because they can source consistent products from our entire operation.

“MbK stands for Made By KTR – it is our internal quality program which ensures that we maintain the exact same standards worldwide,” he continues. “This is how we support global manufacturers.”

KTR USA is based in Michigan City, Ind., but the global operation is based in Germany and has a global manufacturing, sales and support network in 21 countries, as well as more than 40 subsidiary companies that support its operation. With more than 50 power transmission specialists on staff at KTR USA, the company provides precision machining of couplings and power transmission components.

“We have 2,000 active customers,” Ketcham says. “Different markets have different channels of distribution and we can go from serving the equipment owner or direct to OEMs. Supply chain management is one of our major services and our customers require a minimum of 98 percent on-time shipping, so that’s what we deliver. We manufacture to customers’ stock and tailor materials management to our OEMs. What we make is not a commodity – we are really an engineering company.”

Ongoing Improvements

KTR USA serves the North American, Central American and Caribbean markets and maintains a high level of quality by being “heavily invested in lean manufacturing,” Ketcham says. In addition to its operation being ISO 9001:2008 certified, KTR USA is focused on value-stream mapping and reducing scrap. It tracks scrap produced by the machine and the operator, and tracks the metrics between manufacturing operations. This is critical, Ketcham notes, if KTR USA wants to maintain its growth levels.

“We have grown incredibly over the last three years,” he says. “We’ve more than doubled our revenue and at the same time, increased the amount of local manufacturing we’re doing. The constraint is manufacturing capacity and capability, so we’re always looking at how we can improve our processes.”

Ketcham notes that by making improvements in tooling, cellular manufacturing processes and high-volume output capabilities, KTR USA reduced one of its production cycles from 30 days to 12 minutes.

“In the last year, we’ve focused on improving our manufacturing processes,” Ketcham says. “We can still do small-batch, highly custom components because we have better tooling and machines. We’ve increased our flexibility to meet customers’ demands.”

Growth Strategy

KTR USA is using its expertise and market strength in machining industrial power transmission couplings to expand production to a new market niche: wind turbines. Ketcham explains that KTR USA machines components that connect the turbine’s generator to the gearbox – components it worked with customers to design and engineer. “It is a coordination of efforts to get involved in this market,” he says.

Other market segments served by the company include off-highway equipment, petrochemical, motion control, large industrial brakes and industrial pumps, including fire pumps. According to Ketcham, KTR USA’s innovation will lead to growth in all of these areas.

“In the fire pump market, we are the only manufacturer in the world to

have our couplings directly listed by UL for use in stationary fire pumps,” he says. “That’s very big for us. Once companies experience our product’s performance and ease of installation, they will use our products for other markets they serve.

“For high-speed compressors in the oil and gas industry, we have developed a new, high-speed rigid coupling, and that will be a big growth area,” he continues. “We are always innovative. We’ve also done a lot of work with a hybrid drive for a major automotive manufacturer.”

With support from the global KTR organization, a strong manufacturing operation, an established quality management program and a dedication to innovation, KTR USA aims to grow its presence in all of its markets, but particularly in Canada and Mexico. Its investment and continuous improvements in its operation will help it achieve these goals.

“Growth is profit,” Ketcham stresses. “More growth allows us to attract people, provide room for their advancement and ensures our continued investment in our capabilities and capacity.

“In keeping with KTR’s global strategy, within the next four years we plan to double the business again.”