CEC Rocks the World

By Grow Yamhill County

In crisp blue jeans and a button-down shirt, Gary Smith looks as at home in his office as he does on the production floor of Construction Equipment Company. Although international in philosophy and product placement, being at home is something that CEC owners Gary and Roger Smith value highly. When they needed more manufacturing capability, they opened a new facility in Sheridan. “It was far less expensive to expand in Yamhill County than it was to build in Tualatin, but what really helped us decide on the Sheridan facility was the assistance we were given through the City Manager. And 70% of our workforce already lived in Yamhill County.”

Indeed, positions were easy to fill at the new facility. “What we’ve found in Yamhill County is a ready and willing workforce. The talented welders and fitters out here far exceeded our expectations and adapted easily into the lean manufacturing program.” This quality workforce allowed active on-shoring efforts, moving jobs here from overseas and out-of-state. “We expected to employ 14 people the first year,” Gary recalls. “Within six months, we were up to 28.”

CEC ships rock crushing and screening equipment nationally and to over 30 foreign countries, including Africa. “In the northern part of Cameroon, where there’s absolutely nothing, the facility’s actually building everything from roads to a town in order to harvest the oil that they found,” Gary says.

Gary may be all business on the production floor, but off the clock is another story. “The fun thing about Yamhill County is it offers tremendous recreation opportunities, from mud-dragging to fly-fishing to golfing.”

Building Machines by Building Teams

“Lean production is a turn-key operation,” says Plant Manager, Wade Curry, speaking up to be heard over the hum of a busy production floor. “The guys come to work in the morning and are ready to go. You don’t have to instruct each one on what they’re doing.” What’s more, Wade’s workers are trained in multiple techniques and encouraged to be active participants in all aspects of production. “If some part of a project is a struggle, we’ll pull a bunch of guys together – from the other office, the warehouse, the shop, engineers – and we’ll figure out what we can do differently. If we mix all their minds together, we’re going to come up with some great ideas.” Lean manufacturing, a philosophy imported from Japan, also keeps the shop level-loaded, owner Gary Smith adds. “We may have two projects that take a lot of workforce or as many as seven projects that take a lesser workforce. We’re able to add and subtract projects at will and make sure that everybody has a project to work on.”

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