The Faces of Entrepreneurship: Joe Eddy, Eagle Manufacturing
Issue:Winter 2015 : Articles
Joe Eddy meets change head-on.
As president and CEO of Eagle Manufacturing, he guides a company that has evolved over 120 years from a glass to metal to plastics manufacturer. Change, he says, means survival, prosperity and growth.
“Eagle has been successful by not only having the ability to change and adapt, but by eagerly promoting and embracing change,” Eddy said. “First, we continue to change our products as markets change, adding new products and discontinuing products at the end of their ife-cycle, which I refer to as ‘pruning to grow.’ Secondly, we also continue to change our manufacturing processes, materials and capabilities by making strategic capital investments for technology, equipment and facilities. Finally, we continue to seek ways to restructure to increase our productivity, flexibility, efficiency and effectiveness.”
Eddy’s philosophy has served the maker of industrialsafety and hazardous-material-handling products well since he became CEO in 2009. In November, the company announced a $10 million expansion of its operations in Wellsburg, Brooke County, where Eagle produces more than 1,000 products – 99.9 percent of which are made right here in West Virginia.
Eddy and his team have been quick to embrace new and emerging technologies, such as 3D Printing. The company’s purchase of a Stratasys 3D Printer and Design Works CAD software has paid big dividends.
“I gave my team a return-on-investment target of 12 months to justify the investment,” Eddy said. “In the first eight months of use, we have realized at least a 10:1 returnon-investment on the 3D Printer, utilizing it for prototype scale and full-size printing, prototype features, use and ergonomic testing, new materials testing, improved patent descriptions, scale models for trade shows, customer testing and regulatory compliance approvals.”
The addition of 3D Printing technology provides a competitive advantage, reducing time-to-market and production expenses. “3D Printing has made our new product process much faster, less costly and lower risk,” Eddy said.
Businesses, of course, operate in a climate of uncertainty and risk, dangers Eddy, rather than fears, astutely manages.
“From an innovative perspective, I believe you have to be willing to take more risks and be bold in your decisions. I have found that the worst scenario in business is indecision. In this fast-paced, quick change environment that we operate, decisiveness is imperative. Gather allpertinent information, draw from your knowledge, experience and the wisdom of others, and make a decision. Never let the fear of failure create paralysis from analysis. I believe the downside of failure is never as great as the reward of success. …”
A graduate of Marietta College in Ohio, Eddy had a successful career as a petroleum engineer and founded two successful start-up companies before accepting the job of marketing manager at family-owned Eagle. His educational background and career in the field of science “challenged my analytical and creative intellect, while also training me on risk management principles.”
Eddy’s more comfortable on the factory floor than in a corporate boardroom. He makes of point of getting to know each of his employees, listening to their concerns, understanding their jobs, and creating an environment that fosters creativity and innovation. He comes across as a man who clearly understands his company – where it’s been, where it is, and, most importantly, where it’s headed. To budding
Did You Know?
|Eagle Manufacturing made the oiler for every Model T Ford and the oil can used by the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz|
entrepreneurs, he offers this advice: “Question the status quo and always challenge assumptions. Take a product or service or anything you are trying to improve and ask a series of questions about it: Is there a better way … to make it? Questions are the creativects of intelligence, and asking the right questions often causes your imagination to come up with just the right solution.
“Create a culture of creativity and innovation that encourages your employees to come up with new ideas for reaching your goals. …
“Understand your strengths and weaknesses, so that you can build on your strengths and shore up your weaknesses, so that you are always in a position to capitalize on opportunities and are prepared for any threats.
“Over 80 percent of all new products are initiated by our customers in an attempt to solve a problem. A successful strategy for innovation is, therefore, ‘know thy customer.’
“If you have desire, determination, dedication and selfdiscipline, use your mind and imagination, and are willing to work harder than your competition, you can shape the world to your desires.
“You can expect to have many challenges in the way of reaching your goals. Don’t let those challenges get you down. It is my experience that many times the toughest challenges present the best opportunities for advancement and growth.”