On the Rise -- Morey Corp.: Nimble Pursuit of Lasting Value

May 17, 2010
The electronics manufacturer says an old-fashioned belief in quality and customer service are keys to its success in a demanding global marketplace.

Dana Morey got an early start in the family business. "I was 4 years old. My dad used to bring me to work on Saturdays. I would crawl under the workbenches, pick up components that had fallen on the floor and bring them to him," Morey recalls. "My father would tell me how much money I had saved by scavenging that component. When I got 20 cents together, he would give me enough money to buy a cup of hot chocolate."

Dana Morey, now executive vice president of the electronics manufacturer, and his brother Scott, president of the privately held enterprise, clearly value the traditions of the family company that they learned from their father. "For 75 years, we have been this very stable, secure partner for companies that depend on high-quality, rugged products that can endure virtually any environment and we have made our reputation on products that rarely fail," says Morey.

But Morey Corp. also has been adept at responding to changes happening in its markets. "There was a time when most of our customers had their own design capabilities and the majority of products were built to print. That trend has been changing to outsourcing not only the manufacturing but also the design," Morey explains. "We were getting more and more opportunities to build to spec. As our expertise in build-to-spec grew, we realized we could take that another step and begin to develop our own products."

Morey Corp. has developed engineering expertise in a couple of high-growth areas -- power electronics and telematics. Power electronics is an important aspect of developing hybrid power systems, which convert a fuel source such as diesel fuel into electric power. Telematics is a technology that combines telecommunications and information systems. While it has been most visible in the automotive industry, it is spreading to other applications such as monitoring of manufacturing equipment.

To keep pace with these highly competitive technologies, Morey Corp. has assembled what Dana Morey calls a team of world-class engineers. "Electronics manufacturing has been in danger of becoming a commodity. In order to continue adding value for our customers, we needed to be able to do more. That drove us to add engineering skills, whether it be mechanical, electrical or the ability to write software." As an example, Morey cites the hiring of Chief Technology Officer Emad Isaac, who helped develop the OnStar system.

Supporting Culture

From 2001 to 2006, Morey Corp. experienced roughly 1,100% growth. As it grew, company leaders saw the need to bring greater efficiency to their operations if they were to keep pace with expanded business opportunities. In 2008, they hired Taymur Ahmad, a lean manufacturing expert with experience at Philips, Textron and Alcoa, to help shepherd the reorganization and expansion of the company's manufacturing operations in Woodridge, Ill. The expansion more than doubled the manufacturing space and, with the addition of a variety of new manufacturing equipment, paved the way for nearly tripling the plant's production capacity.

Morey Corp.'s leaders are strong believers in quality and lean manufacturing. Dana Morey remembers sitting in seminars led by W. Edwards Deming and has studied the theories of Philip Crosby, Eli Goldratt and others. "At our core is a constant drive to eliminate muda [waste], eliminate non-value-added processes and find ways to do things faster," he observes. He also credits the company's flat organizational structure and open communications for helping to create a culture supportive of continuous improvement where employees "feel like they are part of a team and we have a mission that we are working on together."

While lean provides cost savings, Morey says the company focuses on its benefits in quality and operational efficiency, and lets the financial benefits flow from the results. "The secret to lowering costs is to improve quality, eliminate waste, get everyone thinking about throughput and focus on reducing processing time and doing everything according to established processes," he says.

Unlike public companies with their constant demands for short-term results, says Dana Morey, his company benefits from a focus on the long-term. "We want a customer for life. We want our customers to say the best supplier they've got is Morey Corp.," he says, adding, "When it's fourth-and-long, I want to be the guy they call."

About the Author

Steve Minter | Steve Minter, Executive Editor

Focus: Leadership, Global Economy, Energy

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An award-winning editor, Executive Editor Steve Minter covers leadership, global economic and trade issues and energy, tackling subject matter ranging from CEO profiles and leadership theories to economic trends and energy policy. As well, he supervises content development for editorial products including the magazine, IndustryWeek.com, research and information products, and conferences.

Before joining the IW staff, Steve was publisher and editorial director of Penton Media’s EHS Today, where he was instrumental in the development of the Champions of Safety and America’s Safest Companies recognition programs.

Steve received his B.A. in English from Oberlin College. He is married and has two adult children.

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