With customers in the chemical, water, and food processing industries – not to mention aerospace, medical and other high-stakes sectors – there is no margin for error. Jrlon recognizes this and continues to deliver parts, solutions and service of the highest quality, doing so by growing its capacity and expertise across materials and manufacturing processes.
Jrlon was first established in 1980 in Palmyra, New York by James Redmond. The Redmond family’s history in the polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) industry dates to the late-1950s with James’ father Floyd, and today, it is a tradition that spans three generations.
Jrlon is truly a family business. Now owned and operated by James’ sons Brandon, who serves as Chief Operating Officer and Chad, who is the Chief Financial Officer, it has experienced double digit growth year-on-year, both through organic growth and acquisitions.
Just as it has done throughout the years, Jrlon continues to evolve with the needs of its customers. By expanding its expertise across a variety of materials and diverse processing capabilities, the company continues to widen its market reach where its impact will be greatest.
“For our entire history, we’ve really tried to niche ourselves, whether it be with specific customers or specific processes,” explained Brandon Redmond. “We didn’t want to drive down the road and see twenty-five competitors doing the same thing, making the same type of parts,” which insulates the company from down markets.
As he noted, “the nature of the material we work with makes us a little bit unique – some of our processes are a little bit unique, the types of parts that we make are a little bit unique and in doing that, we’re probably a lot less cyclical than some organizations are.”
At first, Jrlon strictly specialized in plastic molding, machining and coating until a customer request initiated its first evolution. When the team was asked to apply their plastics knowledge to metal, they excelled. As it turns out, metal proved to be far less complex than the temperature and humidity sensitive materials they were used to working with and they were added to Jrlon’s material offerings.
Acquisitions over the last several years have further expanded the company’s capabilities to include gear manufacturing and large casting work, as well as rotational molding. Vertical integration to this extent enables customers to consolidate their supply chains under the Jrlon umbrella.
“There are a lot of shops that are machine shops that machine metal. There are a lot of plastic molding shops. There are a lot of powder coating organizations. There are a lot of assembly houses – but there are not a lot that do all of that and we do, so that’s really become our selling point for our customers,” said Redmond.
“Because we’re able to offer them so many different processes and services, they can reduce their vendor base by adding us as a vendor,” Redmond explained, which is the goal of many customers. “They know that if they’re having a hard time sourcing a specific project or a specific part, they know Jrlon can do it,” versus smaller shops that may only produce a handful of parts.
Expanding its capabilities
Last year, Jrlon acquired Rotadyne’s Engineered Products Division (EPD) which helped it break into new markets and expand its capacity. EPD is located just thirty miles away in Spencerport, New York and boasts a 35,000 square foot facility on eight acres of land, equipped with top of the line equipment.
“We share some core competencies, but they bring quite a bit to the table and so far, it’s been a nice addition,” explained Redmond, who went on to highlight both the similarities as well as differences between the two.
“Both organizations do compression molding, but our compression molding focuses on plastics and specifically fluoropolymers. Their compression molding revolved solely on elastomers in the rubber world,” which means Jrlon can now quote molding rubber products, in addition to roller manufacturing and Swiss-type CNC machining, which supports tighter tolerance, higher volumes and smaller parts.
Now, Jrlon has two facilities totaling 125,000 square feet, over 100 CNC machines and other advanced and manual equipment, and 125 employees that operate across the company’s footprint.
“This organization was a customer of ours for a long time, so we’re very familiar with them and what they do, the people that they have. We retained all upper level management, so that’s been a big bonus as well, just having them run themselves and not having to do much micromanaging,” said Redmond.
The integration of EPD has been relatively smooth, as the culture and values of each organization are complementary to one another and both operate in a similar fashion, save for the hiccups that came with an unexpected outdated information technology (IT) system. Luckily, Jrlon invested what was necessary, overhauled the acquisition’s IT system and now they are collectively ready to set forth to better serve existing, new and adjacent markets. Now, it’s just a matter of informing the market of the company’s expanded capabilities and offerings.
“We’re still in the process of cross-selling and educating our customer base of what our additional capabilities are now and what we’re able to offer, and we’re finding that, without even selling new customers on what we’re able to do, the extra value that we’re now able to bring to our existing customers is a huge benefit,” said Redmond.
While there has certainly been some change taking place at Jrlon, Redmond reaffirmed that not everything is changing. “How we operate certainly hasn’t changed at all: our values haven’t changed; the fact that we hold our employees as our biggest asset hasn’t changed. We still look at this place as an extended family, so that certainly hasn’t changed.”
Investing in itself
Part of Jrlon’s success has been the willingness to reinvest capital back into the business, in terms of both the equipment and its people, to ensure that it remains competitive and on the leading edge of the market. Redmond noted, “On an average year, we probably purchase three or four machines. This year was no different, even with the acquisition. We brought in at least three machines this year and we’re actually looking at another one to be purchased next month,” he shared.
“We want to have double digit growth every year, but we want to grow in a sustainable way,” Redmond said. “Even without counting the acquisition, we’re going to have double digit growth this year. Including the acquisition, we’re going to be somewhere in the thirty-five percent growth range, so pretty strong for an established company that’s not a startup.”
The goal is to ensure growth is sustainable year after year and in a tight labor market, that is a challenge. Another benefit of the recent EPD acquisition is its apprenticeship program through the Rochester Technology and Manufacturing Association (RTMA) which will also be implemented at Jrlon’s Palmyra facility.
Certainly, Jrlon does what it takes to ensure that its employees’ skill sets are as broad as its capabilities and the solutions it provides. If skilled talent is not available, the company will train and cross-train employees on diverse aspects of the business.
“We’re being spurred to do a lot of internal training, sending new employees that are relatively green to classes to hone their machining skills, to hone their programming skills,” explained Redmond. “We do a lot of internal training with our existing supervisor-level experienced programmers, so we’re being forced to kind of breed our own machinists, so to speak, because of how few there are out there.”
Sustainability is not just Jrlon’s focus in terms of its growth; part of its strategy is to integrate sustainable practices in as many ways as it can to ensure that the company and the planet can not only survive, but thrive for the long term.
In addition to waste reduction efforts, Jrlon has undertaken capital improvement projects to install a two-kilowatt system of solar panels on its roof. It also invested in high-efficiency variable drive compressors and LED lighting to reduce energy usage.
This year, a plan of action is being laid out for the next stages of the company’s sustainability efforts. According to Redmond, the goal is to become completely energy independent and this will be achieved through a five-acre solar farm that is anticipated to supply the balance of power required to operate the facility – an exemplary initiative.
If Jrlon’s success is any indication, manufacturing in the United States has certainly returned to strength and will remain strong for the foreseeable future. Solidified in the markets it serves, Jrlon will continue to be a leader in custom plastic and elastomer molding, CNC machining, metals, coatings, gear and roller manufacturing and assembly, and delivering service and solutions like no other for generations to come.