Growth Report 2019

Compco’s Success Builds on Family Values

COLUMBIANA, Ohio – After a very busy 2017, when Compco Industries added Compco Quaker Manufacturing and Firestone Laser & Manufacturing, both in Salem, to its portfolio of companies, 2018 began with another merger.

Last January, Columbiana-based Compco, took an ownership stake in Integrated Fab in Youngstown.

“With Integrated Fab, we have five facilities in the Compco family of companies,” says Rick Fryda, president and CEO of Compco Industries. “We are now able to offer customers a wider scope of services and products, from a variety of metal stamping processes to tooling, cutting and fabrication. It’s all about maximizing our value to the customer.”

With new capabilities come new opportunities, he continues. As such, Compco spent much of 2018 expanding into new markets, with special projects in both the HVAC and commercial trailer industries, the CEO says.

Fryda is especially enthusiastic about the company’s new partnership with Quick Loadz trailers, headquartered in Marietta.

Quick Loadz has developed a proprietary method of loading cargo containers onto specially built trailers for road travel.

“Quick Loadz is an innovator and I am proud our sales and engineering teams were able to customize a solution for their needs, and this is a great project,” says Fryda.

Fryda has high expectations for how Compco employees respond to and serve customers, and he has borrowed an idea from Sam Walton to drive this priority.

Walton, the founder of Walmart, is the source of a famous business quote extolling the virtues of the customer as boss:

“There is only one boss: The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”

The concept is simple yet powerful, Fryda says. Everything a company earns comes from its customers. This thinking reaches all the way down to the individual level of an organization, where employees recognize their paychecks – and all the necessities of life they provide – come not from their employer but, rather, from the customer.

This thinking is so pervasive at Compco that the Walton quote is plastered on the walls of its meeting rooms.

“It’s what we believe and how we work,” explains Fryda.

Compco’s corporate culture is ultimately what keeps the focus on customers, quality and people, says Greg Smith, chairman of the board.

Smith’s grandfather, Clarence R. Smith Sr., founded the company nearly 65 years ago. He was a homeless orphan on the streets of Youngstown at age 10, his grandson relates. It was only through a keen business sense and personal grit that he was able to survive and establish Diamond Steel Construction and, later, Compco Industries.

“My grandfather and father believed in key family values for our company,” Smith says. “We run our businesses by respecting faith, family, honesty, integrity, loyalty and trust. You have to have those crucial values at work every day if you want prosper.”

Greg Smith is the company’s third-generation leader, and fellow team members at Compco are now preparing his son, Brad, to become its fourth-generation leader.

While markets and business climates change, Compco remains committed to its age-old approach, Smith says.

“Our employees share the company’s values, work hard for each other and keep the customer’s needs first in their minds. We plan to continue doing business this way well into the future.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.