Interview with Ken Mandile, President of Swissturn/USA

Oxford manufacturer Swissturn/USA in September acquired the miniature fastener line of J.I. Morris Co. In an interview with the Worcester Business Journal, Swissturn/USA President Kenneth Mandile answered questions about his company’s plans for the line after the acquisition and the future of the company.

What does the company make?

Swissturn manufactures high-precision turned metal and plastic components for a variety of industries. Our largest industry sector is medical devices. Many of the parts Swissturn manufactures are very small, so the miniature fasteners that J.I. Morris manufactured are within our capabilities.

What was behind the company’s decision to acquire the miniature fastener line of J.I. Morris?

Swissturn was looking to diversify our customer base. Morris’ customers are much different than Swissturn’s, though there is some overlap. We believe the Morris customer base offers opportunities for Swissturn to provide special components that go beyond miniature fasteners. Swissturn manufactures custom components on a contract basis, while Morris manufactures standard components. The Morris fastener line also has an e-commerce component that is new to Swissturn.

J.I. has been around for about a century. Did that play any factor in the decision?

It definitely did. It’s sad when a well-respected manufacturing company disappears. J.I. Morris is widely recognized for its miniature fastener line, and we are happy that we will be able to continue to keep the Morris name alive well past its 100th year.

What is the company’s plan for the miniature fastener line?

We are looking to expand its online presence. Besides superior quality, Morris’ advantage over much of its competition is the ability to ship an order the same day it is placed. E-commerce is new for Swissturn, but we feel that there is an untapped potential for the miniature fastener line.

Has the company struggled with a shortage of workers, like most manufacturers?

We have not. We have a very stable workforce. Swissturn does a lot of training, provides a clean, modern work environment, and does a lot of in-house and outside training. Two years ago we became employee-owned, and we believe that will provide further stability to our workforce.

How does automation play a part in the company’s history/present day operations?

We have always invested in new equipment, regardless of business conditions. We cycle out our CNC Swiss screw machines when they are about 10 years old. Even though newer machines provide only marginal improvements in technology, we need to stay up-to-date to ensure reliability.

Some of the most important investments we have made are in information technology. Collecting and processing data from the shop floor and providing timely information to our workers is critical to meeting our customers’ needs.

What are the challenges in today’s manufacturing climate?

I’d say No. 1 is regulatory burdens. Right now, we’re working to meeting new cybersecurity regulations by Dec. 31. We’re spending lots of man-hours and money to meet these requirements.

There are many other challenges that are just part of the market. Products are developed quicker, have smaller lot sizes, and shorter life spans. The fact we have been able to respond to these challenges is a major reason why we have been successful.

This interview was conducted and edited by WBJ Staff Writer Zachary Comeau.

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