“The company has invested about $15 million over the last three years alone for new tooling and other projects that improve our production capacity and keep us competitive,” said CEO Page. “In 2012-2013, we’re investing about $2 million in the foundry to produce special sizes and shapes for our customers.” Page came to Eagle as the COO in 2010 from Metal Technologies, a large manufacturer of cast metal products in Auburn, Ind., where he was senior vice president. He credited the company’s success over the years to the DeBogory family’s commitment to reinvestment, and to low turnover among the skilled workforce.
“These two factors have been a big plus for us,” said Page. “We rely heavily on skilled workers in all our companies and many employees have been with us for an average of 20 years.”
Eagle’s foundry, previously called U.S. Welding and Iron Works, is the sole survivor among industrial foundries in the Miami metropolitan area, the company said. For decades, it competed with a number of other foundries located within Miami’s city limits. By the mid-1960s, federal environmental regulations for foundries were becoming more stringent and the company realized that it would be difficult expand in central Miami. The company decided to move the foundry to Medley and install the most advanced anti-pollution equipment, Alex L. DeBogory said. At that time, the part of Medley where they located “was a swamp,” the Eagle executive said.
The move proved to be fortuitous. Not only was the company able to expand its foundry and move other operations to the Medley-Hialeah area, but the facility — which melts metals, casts it into different shapes and generates heat and fumes — left the downtown area and strict environmental controls which eventually forced other foundries to close, he said.
The last few years have proven difficult for Eagle and other companies in the same business.
“Housing makes up about 40 percent of our business,” Page said, and that sector is still weak. “From 2007 until today, we’ve faced the toughest environment I’ve seen throughout my career,” he added. Competition has been stiff both from other U.S. producers, as well as low-cost and low-quality products from India and China, which don’t need to comply with regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and OSHA, he added.
But Eagle has placed more stress on public sector work and has added sales staff to offer new metal products in the U.S. and export markets such as Europe, Dubai, the Bahamas and Puerto Rico.
The results so far have been positive. Page said that group revenues last year reached over $100 million and that currently sales are running about 10 percent above last year. The goal is to grow revenues by 13 percent this year.
Dealing with a very difficult economy is the company’s biggest challenge, Page said, but complex federal environmental and other regulations – especially from the current administration – hamper business and the development of new product lines.
“Even though this has been a recession from hell, we’ve been growing both in revenues and employment,” the CEO said. Currently, Eagle employs more than 530 people, up from 360 in 2009. The headcount in 2007, as the recession was starting to be felt, was more than 700.