NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Wilma Adams, a longtime employee at Beckett Air, couldn’t hold back tears as she talked about how far the company has come during a 25-year anniversary celebration on Friday.
Beckett Air was formed June 28, 1988, through a partnership with Fergas, a Swedish company that produced highly engineered blower wheels. The company, a partnership between the Beckett and Wallman families, has been through three generations.
Adams spoke of the company’s humble beginnings, in what she described as an “ugly, little brown building by the railroad tracks.”
Back then, the lunch room was a coffee pot and an 8-foot folding table next to a noisy compressor. The small group of dedicated employees had their challenges, working long hours to build the company up to what it is today — a global competitor manufacturing more than 30,000 blower wheels per day.
“We weathered the storm, and look where we are today,” Adams told a crowd of employees. “We could not have made it today if it wasn’t for the teamwork, love and support we all have for each other.”
The employees’ dedication to their craft is what keeps the company running, said production manager Todd Reynolds.
“They take a lot of pride in their work,” he said. “About 25 employees have been here since the beginning.”
Beckett Air offers incentives to employees who expand their knowledge of the business, he added.
Through the use of an “Excel” program, employees can earn extra money for perfecting various processes at the plant. Many of North Ridgeville’s 140 employees have taken advantage of the program, Reynolds said, and it shows in their work.
“It gives them the flexibility to be able to help other departments, if they’re needed,” he said.
Employees spoke excitably about the technology implemented into creating parts that will later be used in heating and air conditioning equipment.
Brad Morris, an employee in the plant, showed a group of Boy Scouts from Troop 120 — from the Elyria Moose Lodge, who were touring the plant — a robot that helps create parts of the process.
“I get to work with robots all day. How cool is that?” he asked the Boy Scouts.
The robots have been used since 2004 and have increased productivity, Reynolds said. Many of the investments into the company include similar types of machines, such as a “single hit stamping” machine that creates different-sized centerpieces at once.
A unique aspect of Beckett Air is that the company creates all of its parts and tools, instead of outsourcing to other countries.
“Probably the biggest cost savings is the volume,” Reynolds said. “Here we can make all of our parts instead of having someone purchase all of the equipment and create it.”
During Friday’s anniversary celebration, Mayor David Gillock stopped at the company and praised the Beckett family’s commitment to its employees and the community. Gillock said Beckett’s three businesses make the corporation one of the largest employers in North Ridgeville.
“Beckett Corporations has been and will continue to be, I’m sure, very supportive of our community,” he said.
John Beckett, chairman of the board of RW Beckett, Beckett Air and Beckett Gas, spoke of his Christian ideals and of the importance of family in the workplace.
Beckett’s father purchased land on Center Ridge Road in the 1930s, before the company began, because he knew he would start his business one day. Beckett said it was his father’s vision that propelled Beckett Corp.
“A time of celebration like this consists of looking back, because you want to capture the things that you are, but a time like this also includes looking forward into the future,” he said.
Chuck Visocky, president and CEO of Beckett Air since 2007, said it was remarkable for a local company to survive so long, and he hoped Beckett Air would continue to expand.
“Depending on what statistics you look at, companies our size rarely last more than 10 years,” he said. “But by the grace of God, Beckett Air has maneuvered through an ever-changing landscape in today’s business environment, and we sit here and reflect on 25 years.”
Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.