In 1964, Howard Wood started Wood’s Powr-Grip in an old general store converted into a machine shop. Half a decade later, Wood’s grandchildren are keeping it in the family.
The family has, however, grown a little since then, as the Montana-based company now boasts 130 employees.
“As a third-generation, family-owned company, it gives us a great sense of pride to be celebrating 50 years in business,” says Wood’s grandson and company president Bryan Wood. “From that humble beginning to our current 55,000 square-foot manufacturing facility, it has indeed been an adventure.”
Wood’s is among the worldwide leaders in the manufacturing of vacuum lifting tools and equipment.
According to the company’s website, its vacuum cups and equipment products are distributed internationally in nearly 50 countries through a network of dealers and distributors, with the glass industry listed first among the most prevalent users of its products.
The company’s growth over the past five decades, while vast, did not come without some tough obstacles.
Wood says the economic downturn a few years ago was the biggest challenge it faced in recent years, as the increasing costs of materials, uncertainty in the market and decreasing profits pitted Wood’s with some difficult financial decisions.
That’s when the company had to lean on the “do the right thing” mantra Howard Wood instilled in it—a mantra seen repeated on the website.
“Layoffs were considered, but we decided that that would not be doing the right thing,” says Wood. “We met with our employees and asked them to accept shorter hours to help prevent the loss of jobs. Salaried employees agreed to take a short-term pay cut.
“Operations were streamlined, procedures simplified, and in a relatively short period of time we were back to normal with a full trained workforce.”
Long-term, Wood says constant and continuous change through laws, regulations, logistics, market pressures and the Internet is an ongoing challenge—one which, now more than ever, requires Wood’s to “pursue markets proactively in order to survive.”
Wood hopes the company’s efforts to foster relationships with its existing customers and vendors while providing a high-quality product and service will be enough to keep things on track another half-century and beyond.
“Businesses must make a plan and stick to the plan,” he says. “It isn’t always realistic, but we’ve worked hard over the past 50 years to lay a solid foundation. We intend to stick to the path and do the right thing, so future generations have the chance to dream and fill those dreams with accomplishments that exceed our expectations.”