Executive Q&A: Alamo’s Witt Whittles It Down
By Carlos David Mogollón, WC&P Executive Editor
Alamo Water Refiners Inc./Alamo Water Machining
28W005 Industrial Ave.
Barrington, IL 60010
Tel: (800) 663-4371 or (847) 382-7810
Fax: (800) 833-5593 or (847) 382-5814
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Revenues: Minor growth in 2002-2003, except for last six months, where up by 15-20%
Management: Jeff Witt, branch manager; Kevin Graff, operations manager; Laura Miller, customer service coordinator; Jim Meyer, senior technical representative
Operations: Makes hubs, distributors, laterals, tank heads and closures for water softening/conditioning market serving from 12- to 72-inch tanks, with over 70% of parts custom-machined
A newcomer to the industry, Jeff Witt, branch manager of Alamo Water Machining, is all about winning new business and new customers. He came on board at the former Matt-Son Inc., now an arm of Alamo Water Refiners, in March at a point when a stagnant economy had left sales flat for nearly two years. In the second half of the year, though, sales jumped 15-20 percent.
He joined Alamo from Goodrich Corp.’s Aerospace Division in San Diego where he was operations director. Before that, he was with the Toro Co., working in its Water Management Group, i.e., irrigation business, in Riverside, Calif. A native of Chicago, the Alamo job brought him back home, with Barrington, Ill., being a nearby suburb.
Witt points out Matt-Son was acquired by Alamo owner The Marmon Group in March 1998 from Robert Oleskow. The company, which specializes in custom machining of plastic parts largely for the water softening/conditioning market, was founded by his father, Matthew Oleskow Sr., in 1958. His son Brett Oleskow now runs Safe Water Technologies in Elgin, Ill.
The Alamo branch is only now finding its own identity again, Witt said. After it was acquired, Matt-Son remained independent awhile, while Marmon looked at other complementary opportunities. Alamo Water was acquired in August 2000. Later that year, Matt-Son merged with Alamo but continued to focus on manufacturing.
“One of the big things Alamo has looked at is how to differentiate ourselves from other manufacturers and distributors of similar product. And we really have had to spend a lot of time this year trying to answer that question. What we’ve really realized is where we bring some value to the market is on products like mine or another value-added type product,” Witt said. Seventy percent of the branch’s business is custom-oriented. New business is where most growth is anticipated.
Unlike Alamo Water, which sells to distributors and dealers, Alamo Machining sells primarily to OEMs. Customers include not only Ecodyne, Ecowater and other Marmon Water Group companies, but Culligan, USFilter, GE Osmonics, Hellenbrand, etc., as well as its parent. Based in San Antonio, Alamo Water Refiners also uses the Barrington facility as a distribution warehouse. It has another distribution facility in Odessa, Fla. The Chicago operation comprises roughly a third of its parent’s volume.
“One of the new things we’re doing is making parts for portable water treatment systems used over in Iraq. They are going to a couple of military subcontractors to get to us, but we are actually making a lot of parts used in a portable purification system that go behind a forklift-type truck and can be moved around in a hurry,” Witt said.
Several new products are under development and at least two are to be introduced in the first half of this year, he added.