Fort Collins, Colorado


Fort Collins, Colorado, with facilities in Loveland and Windsor

Founded: 1870

Publicly traded (NASDAQ: WWD)

Employees: More than 7,000 (about 1,400 in Colorado)

Colorado’s $2B global juggernaut strives to manufacture with zero waste and unmatched quality as it builds a world-class campus in Fort Collins to catalyze innovation and collaboration.

For a company that generates $2 billion in annual revenues, Woodward, Inc. maintains a surprisingly low profile. That will change once the nameplate Colorado brand opens its new 300,000-square-foot industrial turbomachinery systems and 60,000-square-foot corporate headquarters buildings in early 2016. The site will be one of 14 global locations.

Engine Systems President Chad Preiss and Industrial Turbomachinery Systems President Jim Rudolph, two of the company’s four business group chiefs, say the $250 million campus represents a dynamic open-design launch pad for innovation and collaboration.

Rendering courtesy of Gensler & Assoc.

“The new facilities will allow our engineers and technicians — as well as our marketing, sales and production staff — to better work together to deliver better products through a leaner process,” Preiss says.

As the world’s oldest and largest independent designer, manufacturer, and service provider of control systems and control system components such as fuel pumps, engine controls, actuators, air valves, fuel nozzles, and electronics, Woodward makes products that improve the reliability, performance, and efficiency of aircraft engines, industrial engines and turbines, power generation, and mobile equipment.

Both Preiss and Rudolph say that Chairman and CEO Thomas A. Gendron’s focus on what Woodward does best has made it a true global brand. That strategy has so far resonated with multinational customers like Caterpillar, General Electric, Siemens, and China-based Weichai Westport.

“Today we make relatively low-volume, high-precision products for critical applications,” Preiss says, adding that the company’s culture has evolved.

From vertical integration in the 1980s, today’s operation has shifted to a focus on core manufacturing activities, Rudolph points out. “What’s great is leveraging this core/non-core strategy across both our business groups and delivering more value to our customers.”

Preiss estimates at least 80 percent of materials are purchased out of state or off-shore. Founded in Illinois, the manufacturer’s Rust Belt supply chain roots run deep. “That’s where castings, forgings and machine parts are still made,” says he says. Both execs admit, however, they’d prefer to work with more local and regional suppliers.

They also point out that what really sets Woodward apart is how the company implements lean manufacturing principles. All business groups aim for what Preiss and Rudolph call “True North,”– zero waste, perfect quality, and perfect delivery — designed to continuously improve customer value when applied to manufacturing, assembly and test operations.

[Attend the Woodward procurement session at the 2015 Northern Colorado Manufacturing Trade Show – NOCOM. Details here. View the Industrial Manufacturing archive here.]

Future business growth is projected for both the commercial aerospace and energy markets. “We keep an eye on any place in the world where you see large infrastructure projects, where heavy equipment is used,” Rudolph says.

Bottom line: Woodward is tooling up –- investing in products and technologies, test capabilities and modern manufacturing facilities to fuel future growth.

“We’re here to partner with our customers to meet global demand for reliable, efficient, and emissions-friendly energy equipment,” Preiss says. “Right now, we’re looking at a likely golden age of natural gas, where gas is quickly becoming a globally available and relatively clean energy source. We see a lot of promise in the energy mix — locally, nationally and worldwide.”

Challenges: Finding talent in both the Colorado and global markets keeps both Preiss and Rudolph on the hunt for today’s best engineering talent. “We’re also working with Poudre School District, Front Range Community College, Colorado State University and others to incubate the skills need for a forward-looking, globally-focused manufacturer,” Preiss says.

Opportunities: Rudolph and Preiss say their business groups are focused on three key areas: global economic growth — especially in projects involving water, utilities and emissions efficiencies; increasing the company’s current market share (current and new customers) as well as on mergers and acquisition.

Needs: “We’re always looking for potential partners — those that add to our value stream’s growth,” Preiss says.

Jim RudolphChad Preiss


Find Them In Our Directory: