Investing in Ceramics: Advanced Industries International Celebrates First Birthday
Such was the market that Dino Nicoletta entered in October 2000. A strategic businessman with a varied background, Nicoletta was primarily involved in real estate. When Nicoletta and several business partners heard that General Ceramics Inc., a manufacturer of beryllium oxide (BeO) ceramics, had filed for bankruptcy, they decided to purchase the facility to liquidate the machinery. What they didn’t count on was the level of demand for the company’s products.
“We initially had no intention of re-opening and operating the business, but there was such a strong demand for the product from the customers that we had to rethink our strategy,” said Nicoletta. “General Ceramics had a strong history as the second largest manufacturer of beryllium oxide ceramics—one of only three BeO manufacturers in the world. When we bought the company, customers were still waiting for product—in fact, some of them had been waiting as long as four to six months. We decided to try to fill those orders, and have continued growing ever since.”
Building on a Strong HistoryThe new company opened in Haskell, N.J., in October 2000 as Advanced Industries International and began manufacturing in January 2001. But far from being a typical start-up, the company already had a strong base on which to build its new successes.
General Ceramics was founded in 1956 as The National Beryllia Corp. The company conducted pioneering research and development of high purity oxide ceramics. As the unique ceramic material properties of beryllium oxide became apparent, the market developed, and manufacturing operations were established in the early 1960s. The company developed the technology to process ceramic powder for pressing and extruding ceramic heat sinks, crucibles and thermocouple tubing. Precision ceramic grinding machinery was installed, and the technology and equipment necessary to metallize ceramic for the production of ceramic-to-metal assemblies was introduced in the mid-60s.
Advanced Industries International inherited all of this technology and experience. Mixed with the new owners’ business strategy, it was a sure formula for growth.
“With our background in manufacturing, we know that the most important parts of any business are a high quality product, prompt and courteous customer service and meeting our delivery dates each and every time,” said Nicoletta, the new company’s president.
The company has continued General Ceramics’ legacy, manufacturing custom-made ceramic/metal assemblies for a range of applications. The company also manufactures a variety of off-the-shelf components, including heat sinks, washers, substrates and thermocouple tubing. But volume sales aren’t the company’s main priority.
“While we aim to increase the volume of products we sell, maintaining a high level of customer service and quality are far more important to us,” Nicoletta said.
Looking Toward a Promising FutureThat level of dedication to customer service and quality will likely drive the company’s future success. Advanced Industries International has already grown 20% since it opened, and Nicoletta anticipates a continued annual growth rate of 15% starting in 2002.
“Our quality is impeccable,” said Nicoletta. “But I think our sales increases have mainly been due to our quick shipping and delivery times—we’re able to deliver orders within four to six weeks, which is really unheard of for this type of product. There is so much demand for BeO ceramic products that many companies are having difficulty meeting that demand in a timely manner. Since we’re the ‘new company on the block’ we don’t have the same type of backlog that other BeO manufacturers are facing and can push orders right through.”
With two buildings comprising 70,000 square feet of manufacturing space, the company has plenty of room for future expansion—making any sort of backlogs unlikely in the near future.
Advanced Industries’ employees are also key to its continued success. The company currently employs 25 of the original 180 General Ceramics employees and plans to hire an average of one or two new technicians each month to handle market demand.
For Nicoletta, a team effort is essential to a successful business strategy. “We’re all in it together—from the administration to the techs to the guys downstairs in the shop. It’s a very collaborative atmosphere,” he said. “We all know what we have to do, and we get it done. And we also work with our clients to bring them into the collaborative effort.”