Though it has been heralded for a significant U.S. reshoring action, that decision fit firmly in NCR’s commitment to a global structure to serve its markets, Rick Marquardt, senior vice president of global operations, told attendees at the IndustryWeek Best Plants Conference in Greenville, S.C.
Marquardt joined Patricia Gaglione, senior vice president of Business Operations and Supply Chain at Jarden Corp., to share their experiences with reshoring in an executive panel moderated by Harry Moser, founder and president of the Reshoring Initiative
When Marquardt joined NCR in 2006, he had toured the company’s facilities, found them antiquated and decided it would be best to sell them and outsource production. He closed factories in Scotland, Brazil, Canada and Dallas. He decided to improve the facilities in China so that they could be sold. However, he hired new managers for the plants and told them that if they could improve productivity, he would keep them open. At the same time, he outsourced a large amount of work to a contract manufacturer.
“After two years, my internal plants were beating them so handily in costs, speed and delivery that we decided to bring it all back in,” said Marquardt.
In 2009, NCR decided to produce ATMs at a new facility in Columbus, Ga. Marquardt recalled that he had been on a whirlwind tour of possible sites when he landed in Columbus. Unlike the indifferent reception he had received in some other cities, Columbus officials pulled out all the stops to impress him. He was met by the mayor and the chamber of commerce, as well as representatives from three companies that had already relocated to Columbus and from Duke Energy. Within 15 minutes, the site that had been last on his list had convinced him to locate there.
Since it opened, the Columbus facility has grown to 600 employees and NCR has opened two more sites in Columbus. The plant enables NCR to serve its U.S. core customers – big box retailers and banks – with innovative products that it can deliver quickly. Some of these products can weigh up to 3,000 pounds so proximity to customers is an important factor.
Marquardt says he makes a yearly assessment of NCR’s manufacturing locations and how they fit in the company’s strategy. The competitive environment offers plenty of challenges for its facilities.
“It is reinventing the way we manufacture in the U.S.,” says Marquardt. “I told the plant manager the day I hired him, he can’t just be best in class. If he is best in class, I’ll shut him down and move to China. We need to be next in class.” He said plant management and employees have taken on the challenge.
When they made the decision to build the Columbus plant, he recalled, people called him and said NCR was crazy to build it. Today, he said, the plant is “one of the best, if not the best performing plant in the whole system.”