Process Plus

Time is market share when installing a new manufacturing process. When a pharmaceutical or chemical company needs its manufacturing process expanded, its managers can call Process Plus. “We are solution providers,” emphasizes President Jim Wendle. “When a client comes to us and wants to expand their facility or process, we take the existing process and understand what their output needs to be, and provide the solution.”

Process Plus has in-house engineers from the many disciplines required to take on the complex task of expanding or creating new process manufacturing lines. “One of the advantages we have is with clients who have been with us for 10-plus years,” says Wendle. “Our engineers completed projects 10 years ago for these clients and they’re still working for us, so there’s that personal relationship.”

A Process Plus engineer’s familiarity with the client’s manufacturing is a marketable commodity with a measurable payback. “All of our clients – every one of them – have market-driven products, so they want the time for construction or design to be as minimal as possible to get their product to market,” Wendle explains. “Every day they’re not selling the product, they are losing revenue. On a pharmaceutical drug, that could be several million dollars a day in market share.

“Process Plus has the constant pressure of delivering the first time, ensuring accuracy and schedule,” he stresses. “Each project team stays committed and focused, meeting production goals and deadlines time after time.”

Other industries Process Plus serves are food and beverage, consumer products and renewable fuels, such as corn and cellulosic ethanol production. “About 90 percent of our projects are completed within existing facilities,” Wendle states. “We need to keep operating or expanding the process. When new facilities need to be built, we function as a construction manager and subcontract out the work.

“I think where we are unique is figuring out how to get a project built in a very short period of time,” he asserts. “Our time to construction is 50 percent of actual time vs. what is done in the public market. It’s very fast and lean.”

Reinventing the Process

Last year, the company took advantage of the challenges of 2009 to reinvent its sales process. A fishbone diagram was created laying out each step of the selling process. Cold call teams were established and sales personnel embarked on three- to five-day sales trips to surrounding states to inform potential customers of the company’s services.

“We put a tremendous amount of effort into the sales process and recanvassed the nation, and really went back out and started networking,” Wendle reports. “We’re rebuilding those market segments, and right now we’re very busy.”

Process Plus serves clients throughout North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Wendle estimates approximately 10 percent of the company’s business is international. “It’s not a lot and that comes and goes,” he says.

Currently, the company is doing a project in Mexico and soon will start another in Eastern Europe that it is designing now. “We will start traveling to Eastern Europe in about two months,” he states. “That’s a major project for a long-term client of ours who is building a facility there.”

Most of Process Plus’ trade partners are domestic, but the company also has relationships with suppliers in India, Brazil and Romania. Wendle is not seeing as much offshore demand as before. “There are a couple of reasons,” he asserts. “There’s a higher unemployment rate in the U.S. than there used to be, and the offshore pricing has edged up to where it’s just as competitive to remain in the U.S.”

Offshore production used to cost only 50 percent of domestic, Wendle estimates. “Now it’s probably 75 percent to 80 percent, so it’s not worth it,” he insists. “You can control production easier in the U.S. There’s a certain amount of risk in this business, and you have more control over it here.”

Investment Is Key

Wendle is cautiously optimistic about the economic outlook. “I wish I could look out past six months to a year, but I can’t,” he laments. “Our business is very healthy for the next six months, but inflation is a concern.”

His business depends on its clients’ economic optimism. “Our business is all about Fortune 1000 companies investing in their plants, adding capital and investing in themselves,” he points out. “If they’re not investing in themselves, our business is going to struggle.”

Process Plus has been doing energy-efficient design for years. “On all our projects, there has to be a payback, a return on investment,” he emphasizes. “Otherwise companies won’t invest capital in their facilities. Cutting energy is something we do every day.”

The company relies on the expertise of its employees, the majority of whom are engineers. “Some of these people are in their second careers,” he remarks. “I don’t think engineers ever retire. They aren’t the type of people that can retire. They’re very creative people. They like to work. I think our success is in creating an environment where people want to work.”

Wendle is an advocate of what he calls controlled chaos. “It’s kind of tongue-in-cheek,” he admits. “What I’ve learned here is that people are happiest when it’s somewhat chaotic, when they have more work than they have time. There’s a higher level of energy when there’s constant deadlines to hit, and people are much happier than if they’re bored. So we keep it hopping – we really do.”

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