Dubsky Drives Hadley

January 12, 2004
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GRANDVILLE — Robert Dubsky recognizes an opportunity when he sees one.

He saw one at Hadley Products Corp. when he signed on as vice president of sales and marketing in 1994, with 26 years of sales experience behind him.

“It was a small $8 million company back then and I thought it was a great opportunity,” recalled Dubsky, who was promoted to president of Hadley a year ago.

He also liked the corporate culture, values and commitment to quality set forth by Hadley owners Jim and John Humphrey, he said.

During his tenure with Hadley, he has sought out new opportunities for the company and annual revenues have more than doubled.

The former $8 million company is a $20-million-and-growing company today.

Dubsky spent the first half of his career in sales for Dayton Steel Foundry of Ohio, a manufacturer of truck components such as wheels and brake drums.

He worked his way up to sales manager, then vice president of sales for the company, which was later renamed Dayton Walther Ltd.

Hadley is a supplier of components and systems for the “Class 8” heavy-duty truck/trailer, recreational vehicle and specialty market.

The company’s expertise is in air-related products, mirror systems and electronic control systems. It sells directly to the major heavy-duty truck manufacturers — such as International, Freightliner, Peterbilt, PACCAR and Mack — as well as to suppliers to major manufacturers.

Core products include air horns/systems, external mirrors/systems, height control valve systems for air suspensions, mini compressors and the Hadley Smart Air Management System (SAMS), all of which are designed to enhance safety, comfort and ride quality.

“It’s a niche market and a market we serve very well,” Dubsky added. “Our goal is to be the role model supplier in the heavy-duty marketplace.”

In November 2000 Dubsky expanded the company’s product line with the acquisition of KAM Truck Components, a manufacturer of external mirror systems.

Hadley is presently looking for another mirror company to acquire.

Today, mirror sales represent 28 percent of annual revenues; air horns 30 percent; height control valves 27 percent; and SAMS about 1 percent.

SAMS is an electronically controlled air management system that Hadley custom tailors to each vehicle’s vocation and specific functional needs, whether it’s an 18-wheeler, an emergency vehicle, a bus or an RV.

Dubsky believes SAMS, which was introduced to the market last spring, is just about ready to take off.

“We market the ability to customize our products. Each SAMS is customized and programmed electronically to do what the customer wants it to do.”

Hadley has full engineering, design, development, prototype and testing capabilities.

“We look at everything not just as a product, but as a system,” Dubsky said. “It’s really important that we have an engineering staff and technical group that not only designs the products but understands the systems they’re associated with.

“We’ve been very, very successful in coming up with engineering solutions for customers. We always try to differentiate ourselves with value-added products and systems.”

The 57-year-old company also differentiates itself by operating under an atypical manufacturing model.

Hadley contracts out for manufacturing, light machining and assembly, but controls and builds all the tooling and owns all the capital equipment.

Hadley’s Class A supplier, RG2, rents the back half of Hadley’s headquarters and trains its own people to assemble Hadley products. Dubsky noted that 100 percent of Hadley systems and products are tested before they are shipped out.

The setup allows Hadley to focus on the design, development, prototype, testing and marketing of its products and systems, Dubsky explained.

“We put a lot of time into research and development as a percentage of our sales,” he pointed out. “Most companies are 2 to 3 percent, but we try to stay at about 5 percent.

“Research and development are very important to us in the development of proprietary products each year. One of our topline goals is to release at least one proprietary product annually.”

In May, the company will begin the first production run on the new Hadley Self Leveling System for RVs.

Though the heavy duty business “kind of fell off the cliff” in August 2000, Hadley actually hired additional people during the economic downturn and used the period to grow market share.

“We spent more capital money during this downturn to get more market penetration in all our product lines. We weren’t just going to roll over and wait it out,” Dubsky recalled.

“Now this business is finally coming back and it looks like ’04, ’05 and ’06 are going to be outstanding years, and we’re positioned to not only get an uptick from the business coming back but also an uptick from the market penetration we made.”

Hadley anticipates year-end revenues of $27 million and $35 million, respectively, for 2004 and 2005.

Based on current projections, Hadley expects to show accumulative growth of 107 percent between 2001 and 2005.

The company has become heavily involved in electronics in the last couple years and Dubsky believes electronics will be the ticket to taking Hadley to the $50 million annual revenue mark.

Dubsky anticipates that in 2007 Hadley will reach the $50 million mark just through organic growth. Acquisitions could elevate the company to the $75 million to $100 million revenue range by 2008, he predicts.

Although Hadley products are already available internationally through partnerships with exporters, this year the company plans to establish a global presence.

At the end of the month, Hadley representatives will begin their first round of personal sales calls on major manufacturers overseas.

“What the truck manufacturers have asked their supply base to do is to make sure they have a presence with their sister companies or parent companies overseas,” Dubsky explained. “We’ll determine what the opportunities are and how we need to proceed for the future.”

Three years ago the company began specifically focusing on a “brand promise” to deliver innovative systems and services that provide the highest value solutions to the commercial and recreational vehicle markets. Part of that promise is to nurture long-term partnerships with customers.

“We as a company have been very successful in cultivating customers. We’re easy to deal with. We listen well and react quickly to customers’ wants and needs.

“Managing that brand promise has gone a long way in the customers’ eyes because they see the focus.”

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