This article appeared in the September 2018 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.
Small and mid-sized manufacturers are in a constant fight for survival. They compete every day with the lowest cost locations in the world and with global giants of industry. Balancing on a razor-thin wire between success and failure, these companies succeed through the determination of their leaders and the pride their talent takes in the products they make. The team at Globe Fire Sprinkler Corporation understands the weight of this delicate balance better than most; not only is every direct competitor at least six times their size, but “when you’re in the business of saving lives, you can’t be satisfied with anything less than a perfect product — every single time.”
“We’re in the life safety business so every day we go to work understanding the products we make aren’t just stuff, they can be the difference between life and death,” said Steven Worthington, president & CEO of the Standish-based manufacturer. “There’s no better feeling than knowing you’ve made something which helps keep someone alive. That’s the ultimate feeling of pride.”
Globe Fire Sprinkler Corporation, in its current form, is the longest active sprinkler brand manufacturer in the world — their history dates back to 1914 — and is celebrating its 30th year being owned and operated by Worthington’s family. While 250 employees may not sound small, with some global competitors being 10 or 15 times their size, the company stays competitive by taking a small business approach to every decision they make.
“When you’re David facing multiple Goliaths, you have to approach what you do differently — we’re not outspending them, so what we bring to the table must be special,” Worthington explained. “We are responsive and proactive, we’re mindful of the relationships we build with our suppliers and customers, and we put an extra emphasis on adaptability, processes and efficiencies. For us, everything comes down to quality through innovation.”
Housed within Globe’s 160,000+ square-foot facility is a top-of-the-line R&D and testing location in which the company plans to continue investing over the next three-to-five years. According to Worthington, the more active a manufacturer is in planning for the future, the better it can compete in the present.
As he offered, “you have to continue testing — the only way to compete is to innovate and too often manufacturers only tweak and copy each other. We’re focused on developing game-changing products and we’re using all the resources at our disposal.”
Those resources include ones available to many small manufacturers — local and state associations and pro-manufacturing organizations like MMA. With safety being a collaborative effort across the industry, opportunities to network with peers and stay informed on ever-changing best practices are essential.
“Competing isn’t just about staying in business, it’s about continuing to provide high quality and innovative products that help save lives,” Worthington adds. “Globe has a 104-year legacy to live up to. We’re committed to doing what it takes through innovation to succeed over the next 100 years.”