From railcars to bow ties, Westchester manufacturers make a remarkable number of products that are sold all over the world, which makes them particularly susceptible to global economic trends, as well as the vagaries of the local marketplace. In general, reports from the sector are positive.
As Ludl Electronic Products president Dirk Ludl reports: “The year 2018 was a bit better than the previous couple of years. There was a little economic uptick, and that helped. At the neuroscience tradeshow last November, the consensus seemed to be that things are moving in a positive direction.” His second-generation family business, located in Hawthorne, builds accessories for microscopes used in academic research, drug discovery, and computer-chip wafer manufacturing, with sales and sourcing worldwide. “We haven’t been impacted by the tariff wars because we don’t import much from China,” Ludl says. “We buy some [goods] from Japan and Europe, so it hasn’t been a significant issue for us. The only issue we’ve had has been an increase in lead time on some items that has gone from three months to 18 months.”’
“The only factor that can derail our potential growth is the labor force. It has become extremely difficult to find experienced people or good people in general, especially here in Westchester County.”
—Joe Ritacco, General Manager, Wendon Engineering
transForm, a New Rochelle manufacturer of custom cabinetry, had a strong 2018 and has a plan for growth in the future months that is designed to offset the vagaries of selling in the high-end consumer market. “Our clients pay attention to the stock market. When it falls, we tend to see a little decrease in phone calls,” says Shari Baldie, marketing strategist at transForm. “We’re really trying to increase our sales to the trades — designers, architects, and developers — because they keep the business moving along when the economy goes up and down.”
“In 2018, we were able to land some significant orders with large military customers domestically and internationally,” says Wendon Engineering General Manager Joe Ritacco. “These are programs with great potential and we are forecasting 10 percent to 15 percent growth from these alone.” Wendon, a subsidiary of Princetel, Inc., which moved to Hawthorne from Stamford in 2016, manufactures electric slip rings for markets ranging from military to mining and entertainment. “The increased military budget will significantly drive our growth for the next several years,” Ritacco adds. “Aerospace, medical, and industrial industries will be where we experience most of our growth. If oil R&D comes back to the levels from the past, that may be another growth area.”
Ritacco sounds one note of caution: “The only factor that can derail our potential growth is the labor force. It has become extremely difficult to find experienced people or good people in general, especially here in Westchester County.”