Vollrath: Small Business-Style Service & Big Business-Level Expertise
Vollrath works with its customers to make the impossible possible when it comes to industrial product solutions. Customers have complex and challenging needs, and the company’s job is to deliver solutions that exceed expectations. The team of experts includes sales, project management, engineering and operations that work together to create a custom-fit, end-toend approach for each customer. Jean Horvath Vice President of Custom & Specialty Products Vollrath Manufacturing Services (VMS)
Vollrath Culture & Global Presence
In 1874 Jacob J. Vollrath founded the Sheboygan Cast Steel Co. in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. At the time, it produced railroad frogs, small cast parts for the furniture industry, cooking ranges and agricultural implements. In 1900, the focus switched to cooking utensils and enamel cookware, which was the beginning of Vollrath’s journey to becoming an industry leader in commercial foodservice.
Over the years, the company continued to grow and acquired other companies to expand its market reach and product offering. This trajectory of growth included the Vollrath Manufacturing Services (VMS) division, which expanded its offering of custom manufacturing and engineering design consulting, standard and made-to-order parts and custom tool fabrication from primarily serving the commercial foodservice industry to a breadth of others. Today, the Vollrath Company is a medium-sized global manufacturer with 11 facilities spread through the United States, Europe and China with over 1,250 people employed globally. As a company with deep roots in the American Midwest, Vollrath is proud that more than 80% of its product line is manufactured and assembled in the U.S.
The current owners are women of the sixth and seventh generation of the founding family that naturally continue to promote the values that have been guiding the company since its beginning. Being family-focused is at the core of the company’s culture that puts its associates front and center. Vollrath’s commitment to the collective good of its customers, the company and the community is the secret to its success.
Putting the Customer First
The manufacturing process is complex and can be impacted by many factors including part complexity, raw materials, critical dimensions, tolerances and aesthetics. At VMS, the team knows that the earlier they are pulled into the design process, the more likely they can help avoid costly implications for the customers. “If we are part of the early design discussion, we can make recommendations that will improve the viability of the component and even lower the overall cost if there is flexibility to modify the design for manufacturability. We can help customers understand the cost tradeoffs for given specifications,” says Jean.
Company Quality & Working at Vollrath
All Vollrath manufacturing facilities are ISO-certified and the team is knowledgeable about UL, CSA, NSF, ETL and CE standards. A quality engineer is part of the project team to ensure quality is front and center throughout the project. As part of every project review, the component is evaluated through a detailed DFA/DFM process to ensure that the project is manufactured in the most cost effective and efficient way. The organization provides its customers with PPAP parts before production to verify that everything is exactly the way they expect it to be.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Vollrath continues to observe the recommendations that are in place, including having employees work and conduct meetings remotely when possible, prohibiting all nonessential business travel, and encouraging people to stay at home if they feel unwell. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Vollrath has remained open and operating with its sales and customer service teams available to address questions and concerns from customers. The company has continued to be a reliable supplier to its customers throughout the pandemic.
Productivity with Balance
At VMS, every project is assigned a dedicated project manager to ensure a successful outcome for each client. He or she oversees coordination of all the resources and inputs to create custom solutions for the customer — often bringing ideas to consider that they did not know were possible. Many times, the company can leverage technology or products from other parts of the business or leverage its manufacturing capabilities to uniquely create a solution. With a constant overview of the project, the project manager develops the overall timeline, monitors its progress, and ensures that nothing falls through the cracks.
He or she also acts as the dedicated point of contact for the client and is the liaison between the client and the internal team and coordinates the activities of all the internal resources to ensure the product launches on time and within the cost target. It is a fundamental role that is often overlooked in the manufacturing industry, despite its significant and proven value.
A Strategic Thinker
Jean Horvath is Vice President of Custom and Specialty Products, a division of The Vollrath Company. She’s held this position since 2013 and has helped diversify VMS’s portfolio into dozens of new industries. She holds an MBA from Loyola University — Chicago and a Bachelor of Science in economics from the University of Wisconsin — Madison.
After spending most of her career working with independent entrepreneurs as well as partnering with multimillion-dollar brands, Jean knows what truly drives profitable businesses, strategic partnerships and long-lasting customer relationships. She manages a fully integrated team of sales managers, project managers, designers, engineers, and operations to provide customers with tailored and cost-effective product solutions.
Driven by Teamwork & Reliable Process
Relying on individual heroics can be an issue that plagues organizations. If every project takes individual heroics to get across the finish line, then the assumption is that they do not have the processes or resources in place that are necessary for reliable, repeatable development and results. VMS’s new product development process is proven, and team based. It ensures that all the necessary resources and functions are included for every phase of a project. The gated process is robust and ensures each project is evaluated at key points in its development, so issues and concerns are caught and addressed early on by the team.
Authentic Manufacturing Process
Every new product project runs through a quality management system where the team monitors process variations to ensure that the company is meeting customer requirements and identify areas for continuous improvement. At Vollrath, the company uses the Process Validation Methodology (PVM) process, which combines the outputs of Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) and Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) into a centralized document suitable for it and its customer’s needs. It also uses electronic data collection in each of its manufacturing locations to ensure conformance to product specifications. “We will provide our customers with PPAP parts as part of our NPD process to ensure that everything is exactly the way the customer expects it to be,” says Jean.
Known for Values & Work Culture
At Vollrath, business revolves around a lot more than simply manufacturing industry-leading products in an environmentally responsible way. Running a successful operation includes an intentional focus on social sustainability, which means serving people, be it customers, employees and ownership, or the entire community.
Vollrath is an award-winning employer who prides itself on being one of the healthiest companies in the United States. It offers its associates a variety of programs and incentives to live a healthy lifestyle and a happy life. A wholesome work-life balance with a focus on finding passion and joy outside of work is not just encouraged but reflected in the culture values that the entire organization lives by.
Treating all people with respect is another core value that permeates the company and promotes inclusion and diversity at all levels inside and outside the company. While at work, everyone is expected to take ownership and accountability for the overall good of all stakeholders and the company itself.
Award-Winning Products & Services
VMS is a domestic industrial product solution company with the experience, expertise and capabilities to produce complex, highly engineered products and solutions. It offers a unique breadth of in-house processes, including anodizing, deep draw stamping and annealing, metal spinning, metal stamping, metal fabrication, precision plastic injection molding, and high-quality acrylics; along with several secondary operations and turnkey solutions such as custom tooling, packaging and inventory management. A wide selection of metals are sourced mill-direct from both domestic and international suppliers by VMS’s dedicated sourcing teams, which gives its customers the advantage of the purchasing power.
Purpose — To Help Customers
Vollrath focuses on continuing to grow its customer base, expanding into new industries and investing in manufacturing capabilities to directly align with new customer needs. It recognizes that it offers a unique package of skills, experience, and capabilities that can support diverse customers and industries.
“Success with a fast growing startup like KETOS could only occur when key ingredients are prioritized by a manufacturing partner: flexibility, accuracy, product quality and strong communication to operate as an extension of our team,” — Meena Sankaran, KETOS Founder & CEO