Altra Holdings' Management Hosts Inaugural Investor Day Conference (Transcript)

May.17.13 | About: Altra Holdings, (AIMC)

Altra Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:AIMC)

Inaugural Investor Day Conference

May 16, 2013 8:00 am ET


Gerald P. Ferris - Vice President of Global Sales

Unknown Analyst

When you look at the -- all the new products that you sell, what percentage of the new products goes through the strategic marketing process? And what might be done, specifically, by the division? So for example, I'm thinking of that winch, that anchor winch, that you guys mentioned earlier, is that something that would've gone through this corporate process, or the division have done that themselves?

Unknown Executive

Yes. First, it's hardly a corporate process, right? It's sort of maybe it's a very integrated process that's driven not only by marketing and sales, but intimate involvement by the platforms themselves. So I would guess, in general, within a new product process, 40% to 50% goes through the strategic marketing process. Not always new products, a lot of times it's an existing product that we can use to solve an event, that would... So, I'll pass this off to Gerry and he'll talk about the -- how managed yg.

Gerald P. Ferris

Thank you, great. Good morning. My name is Gerry Ferris, I'm Vice President of Global Sales. I've been with the company 35 years and I began with the Boston Gear brand. Several good questions this morning about how does all these work? How does the sales organization interface with the platforms? And really, we're a shared service, if you will. We interface with each of the platforms in our primary role. Our primary role is to support the strategic plan of the platforms and of the brands. And I'll walk you through this matrix that we use, this is a representation of that event, but it's also representation of all of those core markets that all the brands have identified as key to them. It becomes very, very -- it's very important that we understand what the brand wants done, and it's even more important that we provide to the sales organization, clarity.

If you're a seller and you look at this, the first thing you think of is, I think I need to leave. What we do is, you break it down into a very simple process. We wanted to sell this product to this customer and these reasons why. It is very defined, we do not leave anything to the sales organization, in terms of allowing them to, on their own, decide that I'm going to go sell into this space. And because of the breadth of the product that we have, unless you're very disciplined, it can create that kind of anarchy, if you would. You'll never hear us ask the seller or tell a seller, go sell something. It's go sell this to this customer and these reasons why.

If you look here across these, what it provides for us is a well-defined market space. Everything as you can see on your document, from food and beverage to marine, to metals, to forklift, to elevator. And within that framework, it then allows us to be able and to identify what spaces and further than that, when we enter into a space, food and beverage, is an example, would clearly identify to the sellers the applications. There are multiple applications if you walk into a bottling plant, from the front-end to the back-end. And if you're a seller, with a wide range of the things that we have to sell, we have to provide clarity of opportunity, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, et cetera, throughout that plant, and we do that.

It also provides us with a synergy opportunity. Multiple brands, multiple spaces, with [ph] we're bottling plant, that same bottling plant in the front end, when the goods are being manufactured could have that cap-a-clutch [ph] that Craig is talking about, there's a packaging line at the end, that could have gear boxes involved, and so on, and so forth. But the clarity of sales organization is, in this doorway, that Craig referenced before, sell this on this application, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So very defined, it's a very defined approach.

We have a variety of roles. I will tell you that if the 200-plus sellers that we have, globally, everyone of them is an OEM seller. Every president's that's been here, talked to you for the last several minutes, had talked about their need for aftermarket generation and OEM. All of our sellers have OEM responsibility. Now some of those sellers have distribution responsibility. Distribution is a very important part of our business, both in North America and Europe. And creation of aftermarket, bad distribution and with distribution is important to us, but come our primary task is developmental activity. And that's how we focus the sales organization.

As you can see there, some of brands have dedicated sellers. Dave'll talk in a few moments about that opportunity that we have with Turf & Garden and that we have a dedicated sales team for the last several years that have helped build that opportunity. Some of our brands, excuse me, some of our markets have dedicated sellers. When you look the kind of product that we sell, particularly, the engineered solutions products, and is called Peter talked about before. We are not going to send someone who has a broad knowledge of selling into a food processing account into a steel mill, it just doesn't work.

So we really position the sellers, based on the skills, to the well-identified markets that the brand wants us to sell into. Some sellers have multiple brand responsibility, particularly when you work in a space or you call on aftermarket distribution. You're able to sell multiple brands, based on the spaces that we choose to sell you to. Most brands are supported by synergy sellers. So just about every brand that we have, within their sales force, there is a group of sellers that will sell multiple brands based on the markets we send him to. And then, finally, we have strategic markets sellers. So we have 3 or 4 on, a global basis, who are responsible for global activity in key markets like metals, key markets like marine, key markets like food, where their responsibility extends beyond the geography where they happen to live.

All of this begins with this clearly identified value proposition that Craig talked about, the process that we go through. And I can tell you that we're not divorced from the brands. We work for the brands. We're a shared service. And so, our incorporation, within the sales organization, is to support what they want done, not do what we would like to do. And it's very clear, with all the precedents that you have viewed this morning, the strength of their personnel, it doesn't allow us to wander too far off the market what they want. But the process begins for us with a specific account identification. What's the best opportunity? We clearly identify within the framework, within that space, what are the best opportunities? There maybe 50 accounts within a particular space, we'll clearly identify what are the Top 10. What's the value proposition that we have that best meet the opportunity within that particular space. From that, we'll then make a decision about how to resource it. We've used the matrix management approach to our sales organization for more than 10 years. If I'm a seller, I'm only interested into 2 things: what do you want me to sell; and where do you want me to go?

And who called me to help with that? Who calls me to direct me to that? It doesn't make any difference to me. You just tell me what to sell and where to go sell it. And that's the approach that we take. From that, once we've clearly identified who are the best sellers? This match of best seller, best opportunity, is critical for us. You just have to put ourselves in a position to be able to win an award. We talk about closed rates so over the years, traditionally, people of kinds of schools to prove with this new skills and so on and so forth I'm a firm believer that while that's good, that's not the most critical element. The most critical element is to go to the right customer, who's going to buy you have to sell, and who's going to buy the proposition that you have to sell to them. And that's what we do. So this process that we use here becomes very clear whether it's a large scale proposal -- a large scale market that we're selling into; or whether it's just a local territory seller. Activity management is the basis of what we do. I wouldn't that we micromanage, but we're pretty close it. We're very data-driven. There's no supposition within sales, you either you do it, or you won't do it. And so, as a result of that, we're very, very clear in using elements of ADF strategy deployment, which is our ability to be able to identify what are the 3- to 5-year objectives that Carl talked about earlier. And then stratify it down to what's the annual objective, and roll that further down, to be able to say, this year, we want to grow our OEM sales by this. We want to grow our distribution sales by x. That then folds down into what we call a bowling chart. And that bowling chart allows us to be able to clearly identify, for each of our sellers, and our managers, what are the critical elements and what are the critical junctures of sales and sales achievement during the course of the year. It does 2 things for us, it allows us to be able to identify on a monthly basis, where we are, indeed, succeeding. But more importantly into that, all of these bowling structure stretch goals, they're beyond the plan. And it allows us -- the bowling chart's best work for us, when there's failure and the failure results because you haven't hit that stretch goal, which means that, on a monthly basis, you're identifying why you haven't. It allows for an ongoing series of corrective actions that takes place each month. And the failure may not be because you're not able to sell, your failure maybe because some things are happening within the organization that need to be fixed. So this ongoing dialogue, back and forth, between sales and operations, allows for one thing: a happier customer.

We've been aging this process for many years. It worked well for us and we'll continue to do that. As Craig talked about, CRM is a very valued part of what we do and its valued because of its ability to be able to allow us to do 2 things: one, measure what's happening with any account, at any point in time; and two, because of the global nature of our business, allow us, on a more broad base, to be able to allow sales and sales management to coordinate from different parts of the world, how are we doing with ABC account?

And finally, compensation. When we changed the idea of how we were to manage activity, and account development is all about what we do in sales, we changed the compensation for us, we changed the model of compensation for our sellers. So today, a seller, a good portion of their incentive package is based on new account development. And our definition of new account development is very simple, it is a customer with whom we are doing, or not doing, business with today. Or a current account to whom we're selling a new project. And within that framework, we then challenge the sales organization through [indiscernible] from processes, to go win.

So more than half of their commission, their bonus targeted, is based on how do you -- excuse me, how do you succeed at new accounts. So I'm a seller, all I want to do is have the feed me. And feeding them means, clearly identifying what doorway to go to, and that's what the process is. Eight years ago, in new town development, we were doing less than 7 figures a year. Just last year, we topped into 9 figures for the first time. And then our businesses are a tremendous amount of churn. You listen to what the sellers talk -- excuse me, what's the managers talk about in regards to projects? Well, most projects aren't repeating. Some of the new ones, it's an ongoing process that we use of engagement. And finally, close rate. Close rate, as I talked about before, is clearly the basis of how do you put somebody in a position to succeed? Our close rate has gone from less than 5%, in some projects, it exceeds 25%.

This is just representative of a -- seller might tell you a torture sheet that we use with him. But this is an identification of 8 projects that we have going on with a particular partner. If the sellers engage, it'll take us all the way through the accounts that we have identified as prospects, the accounts that we have identified as not wanting to buy at the moment, weight of the proposition isn't strong enough. But what it allows us to do, is to do 2 things: one, if you look at the far right side of the screen, it shows you, within less than a year, this is all new business and this is not OEM, this is user based business, $1 million dollars worth of new business and $1 million dollars in play. It allows us to be able to go to a partner and be able to -- if you would dig deeper within the framework of that organization, to say, I can bring you more value based on these projects and I'll need more sales time because I create that value for you. There's another thing for us, too. It allows us to look at the sellers involved and why aren't they engaged in that activity? And what do we need to do in order to better prepare them to be engaged?

Finally, there's a question earlier about the Altra versus the brands. And I'm not sure if, in your world, that sales is part of what you have done or experienced, but I would tell you that the single most difficult part of the sales process is getting in the door. That's the hardest part of any sale. Allowing the customer, having the customer, rather, allow you the opportunity to do sales to them. All of our brands have created tremendous equity over the years. And if you are an Altra seller, sitting in the lobby of some potential customer, you do not have to explain to them who [indiscernible] is, or who Diddy is, or who Wichita is, who Boston Gear is, who Bauer is. That, I will tell you, is by far, the most difficult part of the sales process. And the equity that we built up with these brands do allow that to take place.

Here's a representation of some of the leading customers that we do business with. Certainly on the right hand side, our North American partners, distribution is a very big piece of what many of our brands do when have a valued relationship. Made of our best the. We have about the relationship. We I would say in the top 10 or 15 most valuable brand to all these North American distributors. We work very hard with them on aftermarket creation. We work even harder with the OEM group that you see here on the left and aftermarket creation. All these OEMs on the left, I can tell you today, that we have over $5 million of the projects in play just with these OEMs today. And it's an ongoing trend of a development that we talked about. Okay? Thank you very much. Any questions for me? Yes?

Unknown Analyst

I knew you guys would talk about sooner of later, but to what extent have you seen those benefits from lean flowing through into sales, particularly with regard to shorter lead times?

Gerald P. Ferris

I'll give you a great example. So 3 years ago, we were standing -- I was standing in the lobby trying to get on the other side of the doorway, with some of our sellers, to a large materiel handling OEM. And the incumbent supplier, good supplier, great competitor, and it took us a year to get on the other side of the doorway. And the first thing that I noticed, we noticed, when we got out on the other side of the doorway was the OEM had more than a $250,000 worth of inventory, worth of $250,000, worth of inventory. And so our sales process to the OEM, we went back to Ed and his team and said, I can win this award, but my value proposition isn't price. My value proposition is asset management. And so, lean then allowed us to go back and make a proposal to the customer and say, within 6 months, I guarantee you that I'll take your inventory from this $250,000 to $50,000. And If I don't, you can fire me. Six months later, we've had the award. Three years later, it's one of the top accounts that they have. And lean was the only reason, was the only reason we won that award. And what that facility can do. Today, I think that facility gets an order once a week, we ship it whatever they require. Get an order on Monday, we ship it on Friday. And when you walk through that factory today, you can't, you cannot, you can't underestimate the value of being able to look at someone and say, it's not about your price. I'm going to give you $200,000, just not the invoice. Go invest it somewhere the summer. Because I can do this and other guy can't, and we knew the other guy couldn't. And he still can't. Sorry, I get excited about this. Would you like to buy anything today? Okay, thank you.

Okay. I'm going to explain how we convert all the hard work that Craig and Gerry talked about in Marketing and Sales, into products, revenue and profit, And lean will also figure into this, not surprisingly, on the manufacturing floor part of it but also in the product development process, which is where we'll start. We're kind of presenting this sequentially, just out of necessity. But this is not a throw-it-over-the-wall, marketing to sales, sales to operations it's very collaborative, it's iterative throughout, as Gerry and Craig both mentioned the brands in the business, not only do they drive the strategy upfront, but they're integrally involved in all the cycles and churn that go along understanding opportunities, customers' needs and actually getting a product design that not only meets the need but somehow gives us a bit of competitive differentiator to the competition, we might be competing again.

So I'm going to talk about 2 major steps there. One is the collaborative engineering process where we design and test products that suits -- that meet the customer's requirements for the application and, hopefully, and by design, exceed what the competitor can do. And then also, utilizing lean concepts, driving towards manufacturing operational excellence in order to ensure a timely and successful product launch, often under pretty intense time pressure from the customer standpoint. And then once we're in steady state production, reliable deliveries, reliable quality and continuous improvement to, hopefully, drive our margins -- to improve our margins along the way. Take days on properly, then lead to accelerating a profitable sales growth. And that's what we're all about here. So the first one is the collaborative parts development process. The process definitely varies, by the market, by application, by the customers preferences.

In the case of Turf & Garden, it's a very -- we'll talk about that as an example, it's a very defined set of products. The application issues are known, both their engineering teams and our customers and our own engineering team. But the first step is understanding are there any unique, critical, technical hurdles to get over with this particular project. Sometimes, they're just simply product performance, product light, a cost point with all those other few things being met, or if some, or none, of those would fit a really super tight launch timeframe that the customer is trying to beat their competition to the market. So understanding of critical things, we already generally understand the application to market very deeply. So obviously, we'll learn new things about peculiarities of the customer's application, but it's more what makes this, situation different from others. A lot of work with our engineering teams, we have an engineering team focused on our strategic markets, the large ones, for example, Turf and Garden elevator example working very closely with the customers that figure out but it is providing product exceed what they need. Design for manufacturing is a key thing. It's key for the obvious reasons of making manufacturing efficiency work, to partner together, well easily repeatable quality. We're able to really have appropriate talent for our suppliers can meet. Dimensional policies that are not overly onerous but that makes the product work and go to together easily. And then reliable delivery, a present from all that. We've been utilizing rapid prototyping quite a bit lately and this may look a little similar to the black heater question you saw earlier, and that's by design, this is actually these -- these were 3D printed components for that project. What we're able to do is create all the parts very quickly, with no tooling charge. With the Tulip something like this is actually rather by the expensive if it'd go into production. We're able to get the parts, put them together, do a form fit kind of test with the customer, and get something in the customer's engineer's hand so they can go on to their implement, they had a good get something into the customers going to the implement our this fit if you shave a little bit here and made it change the center of mass, it'll work better. Getting all that done before you spend your first dollar in tooling, it's huge. It really cools the project schedule less and just makes everything work much better. And then I have a -- I had these actual samples on the desk, or on the table across the way, if you all see that.

Design validation and test, I neglected to mention earlier when I talked about a rotation. We have what we consider a world-class test facility in we consider a world-class test facility in south which is where a lot of our engineers are based.

As an example for Turf & Garden, we have an indoor facility where we get our customers' tractors, we put our clutches on it, we do cycle testing, actually with the lawn mower, tractor running inside, obviously, Pop getting exhausted. We have a really nice lab that is really helping us, not just in North America, but actually our business around the world to do testing. Protecting intellectual property, absolutely. Whenever there's an opportunity for us to patent or protect developmental -- something you develop, we take advantage of that. We also make sure that what we're doing is not infringing on someone's else's life doing to any kind of trouble down the way. And of course, customer validation in tests, we support their process usually with field testing, so step one. The next is driving operational excellence using lean concept. Al's going to talk in more detail about this in a few minutes. But talking about lean principles in the product development process, again, trying to make sure that, as we developing the product, we're hitting our cost points along the way. Once we know we have a that's product going to go into production, we get into what we call the 3P process. And what this is, is a process by which we mockup the entire assembly line, of how we're going to produce something, often using the rapid prototype parts that I mentioned before and go through, make sure the parts fit together. Is the assembly line laid out properly? Is the material being presented to the operator a success? Are there any ergonomic issues down the road. We figure this out even before we buy a piece of equipment. And you're here to picture here of a mockup for that seeder clutch, and I'm not sure how well you can see it, but it probably looks like something that the folks in Gilligan's Island created. It's cardboard, it's PVC pipe, it's just -- it kind of looks like a rat trap. But we actually went and assembled products and the customer came to watch us assemble the product, before we even had a final decide to just so they could see that. We're thinking ahead on how we're going to produce this thing. They ended up making 21 design changes to the product itself, through this process. So add champer here, make the clearance a little better, so bearing went in and stayed in better, something like that. That's the first part of lean principles, in our process. The second is, the things you'd expect. The shop floor things. Producing to the customers demand rate and call it TAC Time, that allows us to make the more than we need and certainly less than the customer needs. It provides the ability to vary the production rate, it fits exactly to the customers' forecast and demand. Driving all of our businesses, as Al will talk about later on, to one piece, or small-batch manufacturing, well, it can. Because it scheduling flexibility, if you have an order for 100 pieces, we don't spend hours making 100, we'll make 10 at a time, switch to something else if that's a customer satisfied, go to the next 10 reduced our time so we can do that. Giving us at the end of the day, we were able to ship a lot of variety of parts to a variety of customers instead of getting 100 pieces that are out as an example. Standard work, again, driving toward repeatability, optimization of the assembly process and supply chain management, managing all of our purchasing, up to the supply chain. So again, this is giving us the differentiation we believe, and we hear from our customers, that raised eyebrows, and well, that's great. We don't expect them to come in, even though it looks like Gilligan's Island, that, I see, I can envision what this is going to look like.

So all of this, this methodology that Craig, Gary and I are talking about, gives us what we believe is sustainable and competitive advantage. It helps us focus, it helps us execute. And I mentioned earlier today, barriers to entry, so it's technical with the product and operationally, and as we sample [indiscernible] we'd be reducing the customers inventory, these are all things we do to drive, to make us -- our goal is to be indispensable to the customer, give us pricing power, displace competition at new customers and markets that we're going after and also grow in existing customers with new products and new applications. And certainly, everything they're doing that successfully know we drive aftermarket generation and over the last 4 years an 11% CAGR on organic growth. So we're going to walk through quickly -- a quick kind of example with Turf & Garden. I mentioned earlier that the primary product Turf & Garden is a power take-off clutch brake. It engages and disengages the mower deck so that the -- you're only having the blade turning when you want them to. And then it stops the blade within a set period of time and, actually, that's an industry standard in all walk-behind mowers, that's actually a federal regulation. Whether the seat is no longer occupied or the engine is cut off, so engage and disengage the clutch, and then, stop -- engage, disengage and then stop it. Again, we focused on this market for many years and we believe this demonstrates that we are able to, with dedicated sales organization and able to address has a leading position in the market that we have identified as a being a good profitable and steady market.

Kind of building on what Craig said earlier, we have very mark-focused promotion in marketing. We talked about capper clutch. For Turf & Garden, not surprisingly, we do a similar dedicated website, where literature -- we're a member of OPEI, which is an industry trade organization, we get some data from that. But we have done this methodology in the ECB group in 4-track elevators, servo motor and in farm and ag. So it's a methodology that's proven and point comfortable working on it is been successful. Because we had some presence at our customers. Again, trying to be indispensable both technically and operationally, it gives us a lot of opportunity to both sell other Altra products into that particular customer or expand into different applications within that customer. We have, as Gerry mentioned a dedicated field sales organization for Turf & Garden, it's a smaller group. They focus on these customers, they know their issues, they know the business, they know the industry. When someone purchasing in customers product manager talk about the market outlook process of information very quickly and bring it back, so what does that mean for us? Volumes. The other aspect that focus on a market health allow us to innovate over time to the needs of that market. These needs evolve over time, they're not static. So as an example with the stopping time, that's a safety issue, and that is something that the industry itself regulates on commercial and commercial and residential this actually a federal regulation. The more we can have our product technology and innovation to make that short-term in the density of a product, same footprint and at the same price, that gives us an advantage industry knows in the can change stopping time they can then push the envelope on that and just make it part of our competitors playing catch-up. Another example is being involved, very close to the customer. The customer had a new product platform coming out. And there really wasn't clutch in the market that fit get the price point and the power of the torque necessary so we developed a bit of in our product line we developed an entire product for that. Again, not providing opportunities for competition to come in to that customer anyway. And again, we knew they have a finger on the from on that particular customer. Again, 25 years of continuous innovation and it is tiny the application really makes it much easier and it will be a market leader stable position there.

The last thing, I'll talk about is how we tailor our business and our operations for a particular market, Turf & Garden, again, being a great example. We have continue to employ lean initiatives throughout our organization. Turf & Garden is significant focus their because we believe that by continuing to set the ball high for improvements on working capital, inventory, lead time, we're able to continually provide the customer better service, a better product and take conversations away from price and talk about the services we provide them. As an example, in Colombia City, we've had a Turf & Garden we've hired a Japanese consultant to really make a smidge our goal for the and we believe a set the bit of code more aggressive that we have been ourselves to how we can get there. SAP is helping us become a more global business. It's helping us make decisions quicker. The database decisions quicker and improve our process workflow. We've been, over the last year's expanding our engineering workforce, our engineering team, both because we have -- we want to make sure we get ahead of any demographic curve, with the experienced engineers retiring?and also because of the opportunity funnel we have there's a lot of opportunity in there both in the Turf & Garden in clutches and brakes and linear actuators. Our new product data management system, which is global. It allows us to basically in one place have collaborative teams that are not co-located, work on a given drawing, given process sheet, so that we can have a team design a product that aren't in the same facility and then manufacture that product in multiple facilities having design and revision control in place without having to do that all via email. And I mentioned our test lab, we've recently expanded that and that's been very helpful for us.

So what does all that we believe that execution, that Friday, that focus on execution to demonstrate success in the market. Again, we chose to be growth market for us. We have continually exceeded what the market, of course, up-and-down talked about before housing starts, consumer confidence, weather by being aggressive and being able to provide more value to our customer able to displace competition and grow faster than what the markets would've been growing. And just in case you might think, well, Turf & Garden has been missing for along time an isolated example, it really isn't we've been using this technique in a market, the capital market is by no means anywhere near Turf & Garden, but we've been very successful again with the focus and Craig described earlier and capital expenditures Dragon space OEMs and other aftermarket sellers. And then, one of the example I mentioned agriculture being a market, we very interested in going into. Our product primarily are combine header clutches. Over the years, we have now moved into different linear actuators able to move into different functions within a combine and with seeders, a completely different application with agriculture. Covenant and with Cedars completely different applications with agriculture and both with an aftermarket play and an OEM price. So again, we believe it's going to help us drive growth for years to come. So that is it for our presentation. Any questions either for me or Craig or Jerry? Yes.

Unknown Analyst

Dave, could you and your colleagues maybe talk about really what the 5 or 3 biggest opportunities you see for the company and I guess I really don't mean products because I know that you're kind of singles hitting with products, I get that. But maybe even if it's markets, if you could kind of identify the areas that we should be really focused on to see if your success from your efforts?

Unknown Executive

Yes. first to me. First; you can see properly, we're not an epic hopefully today demonstrated so far, we're not a public company that designs a product and build it and they will come. Obviously, there are situations where you know there's a general need and you develop a general line of products and its successful in the marketplace. So we, because we're focusing on markets, we find a product that makes a solution to the customers application issue. So the product falls through, all of the strategic planning and then the customers need But markets that we feel that we are looking to grow I can speak for my business before my colleagues, agriculture is a big one for us. Occasionally, a knock on our product portfolio is -- we haven't talked much about motion control. Maintaining about servos except we put a brake on them. We do actuators but motion control

Copyright policy: All transcripts on this site are the copyright of Seeking Alpha. However, we view them as an important resource for bloggers and journalists, and are excited to contribute to the democratization of financial information on the Internet. (Until now investors have had to pay thousands of dollars in subscription fees for transcripts.) So our reproduction policy is as follows: You may quote up to 400 words of any transcript on the condition that you attribute the transcript to Seeking Alpha and either link to the original transcript or to All other use is prohibited.


If you have any additional questions about our online transcripts, please contact us at: Thank you!