|Cover Story Page 3|
|Valterra finally got out of the skateboard business
completely in 1994; however, they licensed the Valterra name to Seneca Sports, another
supplier in the sporting goods and toy industries, so Valterra skateboards are still
around but not manufactured by Valterra.
In an effort to cut costs Valterra needed to find ways to reduce manufacturing costs to remain competitive. Grengs said, "Obviously we had to go offshore, and Mexico was the closest place to go where we felt we could still have control without spending 17 hours on a plane."
At first, Valterra entered into a joint venture with a local custom molder in 1985, but in the late eighties Valterra merged with the molder and opened its own factory in Mexico under the Maquiladora program. Grengs explained, "Maquiladora is a program set up by the Mexican government to bring jobs to Mexico. So you can have a 100% foreign-owned Maquiladora corporation in Mexico. Valterra's factory in Mexico employs around 350 people and is managed by Luis Navarez, who served as Controller for eight years before being promoted to General Manager."
Valterra moved its injection molding equipment, extrusion equipment, drain hose manufacturing equipment, and all assembly operations into the new plant. And the move has paid off in a lot of ways. Lunder said, "It's been a distinct change from when we were working through the joint venture company. They functioned as a custom molder to Valterra. The company's management was more or less only interested in shipping product and getting paid. Because of the merger and Valterra gaining total control, we've seen a major transformation of attitude at our factory, attributable mostly to our onsite general manager, Navarez. He has instilled the Valterra philosophy into our workforce. In the beginning we would ship everything to the states, warehouse the product and reship it to customers. Now the factory actually ships direct to the customers so if we get a complaint we pass it on to them. They immediately see the effects of their actions and it really stimulates them to tune into the customer.
"Our people really care, including the employees in Mexico. They have adopted the Valterra attitude and philosophy, which is that we take care of the customer. These orders have got to go out. This has got to be made right. They are really focused on the things that have made Valterra successful. And that's really been exciting to watch.
"Long time employees here also have the same philosophy. Some have been with us since the beginning. I think our ability to keep and retain longtime sharp and loyal employees coupled with our overall business philosophy is what makes us a good company."
As Valterra grew they started acquiring other small companies that had products that supplemented the company's RV product lines. Those acquisitions gave Valterra ABS tanks and Fridgemate fans.
Lunder said, "In 1985 we acquired the assets of M&M Hose which gave us a foothold in the RV drain hose business. It gave us a lot of RV sewer fittings, and other fittings that were plumbing-oriented and were perfect matches for the Valterra valves." continued