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Quaker Employees Welcome Compco as New Owner

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SALEM, Ohio – Two weeks ago, Ronnie Dickson had feelings of déjà vu.

After losing his job in the wake of Alliance Casting Co. closing in January, he was once again facing unemployment when employees at Quaker Mfg. Corp. learned June 9 that the plant might close.

“After I heard it could close, my heart sank,” Dickson said. “I just went through this.”

But on Monday morning, Dickson, a press operator, and about 60 other employees at Quaker expressed relief and a sense of gratitude that Compco Industries, Columbiana, has stepped in and acquired the company. “I like working here, and now, I’m looking forward to the future,” he said.

Compco officials briefed the first shift of employees yesterday morning during Quaker’s first full day of operations under new ownership and new name – Compco Quaker Manufacturing.

“So far, it’s been great,” said Travis Herrington, a press operator at the plant, shortly after Compco executives informed employees about the transition and what to expect over the next several months.

Compco purchased Quaker on Friday after two weeks of fast-paced negotiations that led to the sale and the preservation of the long-time manufacturer. Terms were not disclosed.

On June 9, employees at Quaker were informed that the plant could shut down by June 20 should its lender, First National Bank of Pennsylvania, exercise its right to have the court appoint a receiver to oversee the company’s assets.

In the meantime, Compco, First National Bank, Quaker management, the receiver, and the company’s customers worked to negotiate the sale.

“Everybody’s been on edge, but we kept working to keep things going,” Herrington said.

Compco President and CEO Rick Fryda addressed 60 workers on the plant’s first shift to thank them and all other parties involved for their patience and support.

“This happened in a two-week period,” Fryda told employees. “Normally, this would take 60 to 120 days.”

Fryda emphasized that this is a brand-new company where everyone will work together to improve the business and the workplace culture. “Right now,” Fryda said, “I can tell you that everybody’s going to stay put.”

While the CEO stopped short of guaranteeing that all jobs would remain, he said the company’s goal “is to preserve every job, every person that we’ve got sitting in this room.” Compco Quaker employs about 115.

Fryda and company officials were scheduled to brief the afternoon shift later yesterday.

Greg Smith, chairman of the board at Compco, encouraged all of the employees to ask questions, noting that success requires a team effort. “We don’t see anybody that’s better than anybody else. Communication is absolutely the most important thing,” he said.

It’s important to develop a culture of trust and respect, Smith said, and Compco believes Quaker fits in perfectly with the company’s values and objectives

Mayor John Berlin described himself as enthusiastic about the future of the plant now that Compco has acquired it. “Rick has already expressed a desire to grow,” the mayor said, adding that the employees play a vital role in the city’s economy.

Moreover, Fryda told employees that he’s had very productive conversations with the company’s major customers, all of whom expressed interest in bringing additional business into the new company.

One customer, Fryda noted, hinted at a significant project that would involve Compco Quaker and could kick off early next year. “These are exciting times,” he said.

Quaker manufactures tooling for the automotive, recreational vehicle and outdoor power equipment industries, and Fryda sees nothing but potential in the acquisition.

“It fits in our corporate vision and goals,” Fryda said, noting QFM Corp., another Compco company in Salem, complements work that Quaker does. “With the capabilities of both Quaker and QFM, there are a lot of good things to come,” the CEO said. “And, with the three facilities that we have, there isn’t much that we can’t do.”

Pictured: Quaker and Compco employees Robert Bachinger, Fred Dannhauser, Meribeth Noble, Rick Fryda, Greg Smith, Matt Werner and Salem Mayor John Berlin.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.