Continual adaptation and ingenuity keeps company in first place
Jose Garces, the well-known and well-respected Iron Chef, once said: “Don’t be afraid to adapt new ingredients into your own techniques, and traditional ingredients into new recipes.” Now, while Chef Garces was obviously speaking about cooking innovation, the same sentiment could easily be applied to Aluminum Coil Anodizing (ACA). Over the last fifty plus years, this company has built, tweaked, tinkered, and most importantly, adapted its way into maintaining one of the highest market shares in the coil anodizing industry.
ACA’s precursor originally began in 1961, through the tinkering of Robert Rusch, whose efforts resulted in the development of a coil anodizing line. Working with his brother, William Rusch, the two partners perfected their anodizing process and launched their business. After five years of growth, the brothers went their separate ways, and Aluminum Coil Anodizing was born with Robert at the helm.
The company soon needed a bigger space, so Robert moved it to a new location in Streamwood, Illinois, where it remains today. ACA then joined forces with a sister company down the street (Lawrence & Frederick) to coordinate smaller projects, and together, the new business put a dynamic executive team in place to guide the company through the next forty years.
No business can succeed without adapting, and as overseas competitors jumped into the industry that Robert created, it became apparent that the success of ACA would be built upon a finely tuned mixture of old school ideals and new school verticals.
Today, ACA is North America’s largest producer of anodized aluminum and metallic sheet lighting products. It is also the leading, ISO certified, technology provider in this area. “Our biggest market has always been lighting,” says Ken Alessi, the President and COO of ACA. “We export all over the world – US and Canada, Mexico, South America, as well as emerging business in Asia.” The company focuses on several other areas, as well: architectural and specialty, automotive coil, and solar.
However, ACA is not without the type of challenges that many 21st century companies must face. New and emerging technologies have killed as many ventures as they have created, but for ACA, the competitive response was simple and direct: find new ventures, rebuild, and repeat.
“As lighting switches to LED, automotive trim has become very exciting for us,” continues Alessi, “specifically in regards to starting from scratch and moving forward. Expanding to different types of cars is the quickest way we can expand our market share.”
And Aluminum Coil Anodizing doesn’t stop there. The business is currently looking for new clients in the architectural and aerospace areas, in addition to offering top-rated embossing and dyeing services. It’s all part of the innovation culture that springs from ACA’s offices at 501 East Lake Street.
And, in order to guide the changes needed in this ever-evolving environment, it is necessary to have a first-class team at the helm. “We have a sales team that does face to face meetings; they’re constantly trying new things, new colors, and new opportunities. We have a small executive team who still get together on a daily basis to discuss the best way to handle where we’re going.”
With its nimble, vibrant workforce, ACA has been able to maintain its market share despite a shrinking market, even while it continues to venture into new sectors. And, as always, its customers remain a high priority.
“We’re very proud of our service.” says Allesi. “We’re always able to respond quickly to our customers’ needs.”
So where does a company with this high level of expertise and tenacity go from here?
“Our goal is to expand our efforts into automotive – different types of cars will give us a bigger reach,” Ken continues. “We’re excited about looking into the architecture and appliance industries. We dabbled years ago and think we can make both of these a viable alternative in the next four to five years.”
ACA has also been launching new innovative products on a regular basis – specifically its new Super Ultrawhite Series, a higher reflective metal solution for LEDs, as well as traditional Fluorescent Technologies (which are offered in HG, LG & TXL surfaces). “R&D with high tech companies, weekly meetings to discuss new opportunities, and new product innovation,” says Allesi. “Any one of these could be a big hit for us.”
For fifty-four years, ACA has been known for ingenuity and perseverance. The company has remained strong by putting the right people in place while adapting to the ever-changing environment it created. Aluminum Coil Anodizing is a 21st century company that has stood the test of time.