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May 10, 2012

Continuous improvement and overall expansion contribute to U.S. industry leadership 

The Educational Foundation Board of Trustees of the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) recently recognized Roll Forming Corp (RFC), of Shelbyville, KY with the Metalforming Pioneer Award. PMA´s objective with the award is to identify and develop case studies of employers in the metalforming industry that excel as successful businesses, through enhanced values, culture, policies, practices and investment.

According to PMA´s case study in MetalForming Magazine , RFC has managed to four-fold its business in the past decade due to three key factors. RFC has expanded into new markets by winning customers which are the number one companies in their individual markets. The company maintains these successful relationships through new product development and continuous improvement (CI) processes. Lastly, RFC motivates and retains employees through well-defined training and gain sharing program. According to RFC president Ray Leathers:  “In manufacturing, we do two things, launch new products or work on CI. And if you’re not doing either, you’re missing the boat.” In order to continue to drive this process, he adds “you have to continuously improve the continuous improvement program.”

A major challenge faced by U.S. manufacturing is the shortage of highly skilled labor. Therefore, RFC´s "Pay for Skills Roll Operator Trainning Program" is of particular interest. According to RFC training facilitator Patty Sweasy, “We want our operators to progress, but we don’t force it. And when we do get our operators into the program, retention rate is very high. Once operators enter the program and identify a career path, they rarely, if ever, leave us.”

Indirectly related to continuous improvement, RFC launched a re-imagined corporate identity, revamped website and debut into social media in February, 2012. The revamped virtual identity--by means of a new logo and website along with a social media presence on Twitter and LinkedIn--better communicates RFC´s leading capabilities to current and prospective clients.

RFC is also in the process of investing over $8 million to expand its manufacturing and office space for its growing aerospace business, to be completed by autumn, 2012. RFC Aerospace also anticipates supporting continued growth with an additional thirty employees, an increase of about 50%, over the next three years. More information is available here.

With three plants, RFC supplies rollformed components and assemblies to the office furniture, aerospace, construction, solar energy and other industries with revenues of $115 million. It is a fully owned subsidiary of the Austrian conglomerate voestalpine AG .