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triangle news - Triangle Manufacturing

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                                                                    triangle news
	
  




Finding Ways to Grow
as Industry Continues
to Shrink BY BETH FITZGERALD
MAY 2011

People from all over the world walk
around with Triangle Manufacturing’s
roducts inside of them. At the Upper
Saddle River company, machinisits
use computerized metalworking tools
to make orthopedic implants, like              Triangle Manufacturing was founded as a machine shop
artificial knees and hips, which are           supplying aerospace companies. Today, CEO Neal
sold to more than 30 medical device            Strohmeyer, right, runs the company with his son, Dax,
                                               President, as a medical device manufacturer.
companies.
                                               	
  
New Jersey has been losing manufacturing jobs for decades, yet Triangle's work force
has grown more than 30 percent in the last three years, to nearly 140. Revenue took a
similar surge, and is now "north of $30 million a year," said CEO Neal Strohmeyer. His
father founded the company in 1955, and over the years Strohmeyer has watched
machine shops exit the market as their founders retired, sold or shut down. A key
difference at Triangle, Strohmeyer said, was the decision about 15 years ago to become
more externally focused. Most manufacturing entrepreneurs "are guys like my father,
who have tremendous skills and gifts," he said. "You think because you were successful
in the first five or 10 years of your business by making stuff faster, better and more
efficiently, that's how you can fix all the problems. The real problem was they weren't
focused externally enough." Founded as a machine shop supplying the aerospace
industry, Triangle decided 15 years ago to enter the medical device business, initially
supplying Mahwah-based Stryker Orthopaedics — still a key customer. Today, medical
devices are 85 percent of the company's business, Strohmeyer said. His son, Triangle
President Dax Stroh- meyer, said the company grew by developing the expertise to meet
the increasingly stringent demands of the Food and Drug Administration. "The sandbox
we play in is getting smaller and smaller, and that is one of the reasons we're able to
grow," he said. "We are almost always willing to take on some of the most challenging
components our customers have." For years, machine shops have lamented the lack of
entry-level workers to replace high-skilled retirees, but Triangle took that problem into
their own hands. Nearly a decade ago, Triangle's engineering staff worked with Bergen
Community College to launch a two-year associate degree in manufacturing technology,
and today, a half-dozen BCC graduates work for


Triangle. Several years ago, the company worked with Passaic County Technical
Institute to develop a program that has so far sent two graduates to the company. Neal
Strohmeyer said he expects a few Passaic graduates each year to be "invited here and
offered an opportunity to get financial support from us to go through the two-year
associate's degree program at Bergen Community." G. Jeremiah Ryan, president of
BCC, said the manufacturing degree "was an expensive program to start, and Triangle
and Stryker put up some money" to build a manufacturing lab and help then-President
Judith K. Winn enlist the support of the county freeholders. "When I work with places
like Triangle, I am tremendously encouraged about the future of manufacturing in New
Jersey," Ryan said. "What you need are more CEOs like Neal. He understands that
everything is based on the employees," making sure they are trained "to get it right the
first time — so you don't have waste and you get the costs down." The manufacturing
technology degree started eight years ago, and it took time to build to its 30-student
enrollment, which Ryan said is healthy. BCC also teaches certificate programs like
computer-aided manufacturing; such courses often are compressed into days instead of
spread out over months, because manufacturers "need people retrained yesterday." In
addition to its external work force-development projects with local schools, Triangle has
five full-time and two part-time employees who "are pretty much dedicated to focusing on
staff development," Stroh-meyer said, including a recruiter, industrial engineer and
director of organization development. Triangle does regular work force training in-house,
gets training grants from the state Department of Labor, and has contracted with the
New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program to improve its manufacturing
processes. Financing from the state Economic Development Authority has been critical
to Triangle's expansion. An EDA representative said Triangle has been awarded five
low-interest EDA loans, totaling $10.4 million, since 1995, which "have helped Triangle
be competitive and grow in size." The company's external focus requires a lot of travel.
Dax Strohmeyer said he logged some 100,000 air miles last year, visiting customers and
attending trade shows in the United States and Europe. Staying active in the local
community and the medical device industry has raised the company's profile, enabling
Triangle "to go out and find the few really skilled people we need, and who are fewer and
farther between here in Bergen County — where most kids are not necessarily growing
up thinking they would like to be a machinist."

	
  

								
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