Intelligrated works with local, state governments to drive its development

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Any business considering a move to the Columbus Region should get to know local and state officials, with the idea of fostering mutual cooperation that will help make their startup successful.

It's a strategy that brought success to Intelligrated, says Jim McCarthy, company president and COO.

"New business should share with officials their ideas for growth and what that means to the local economy, as well as the number of jobs to be created," McCarthy says. "We have found this to be very helpful and is exactly the way businesses and governments at all levels should work together."

Intelligrated designs, manufactures, integrates and installs automated material handling systems for its clients. The company was founded in 2001 and is headquartered in Mason, Ohio, a Cincinnati suburb. In 2002, the company opened a manufacturing facility in London, Ohio.

The region provided the company one of its first major customers, Big Lots, when the giant retailer signed on for Intelligrated's first multi-million-dollar project.

"Being part of the Columbus Region has contributed significantly to our success," McCarthy says. "Additionally, the state of Ohio has been supportive of our growth. Both the Strickland and Kasich administrations have visited our facilities and have substantially supported our ability to grow our business and hire skilled and unskilled associates."

The company, which started with 17 workers, now employees more than 2,300 people and does business in 10 states. It also operates in Canada, Mexico, Brazil and China, offering project and customer support across the globe.

McCarthy and Chris Cole, CEO, had more than 60 years of combined experience in the automated material handling industry when they started Intelligrated. The management's reputation opened doors.

"Our reputation for putting the customer first, doing what we say we will do and when and how we will do it gave customers confidence to make multi-million-dollar decisions very early in our corporate life," McCarthy says. "Additionally, innovation played a very key role early on. Our products were simply better than our competitors'."

The company faced powerful, multi-billion-dollar competition, but those competitors were also struggling with external and internal problems, giving Intelligrated an edge, McCarthy says.

"Had they moved more forcefully and decisively early on, they could have extinguished our torch. But they did not," he says. "Further, they alienated themselves to some degree from their own employees and some of their very key customers, and we took advantage of that opportunity."

To continue to grow, the company must offer superior products and capabilities and recruit and promote the best employees, and it will take awareness, McCarthy says.

"Most important is keeping the customer at the center of what we do," he says. "We have to deal with all of our stakeholders in an honest, open relationship."

Innovation also plays a central role for the future.

"We have recently formalized the innovation process to ensure a constant flow of ideas from all levels of the company," McCarthy says. "We have taken great steps to move out of our comfort zone . . . and we are bringing in new technologies to further enhance our capabilities and tend to the ever-growing needs of our customers."

TC Brown is a freelance writer.


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