A Fireside Chat: U.S. Gave Up on Manufacturing for Short Term Profits
Miniature fluid handling specialist Bio-Chem Fluidics has announced its new Vice President of Operations, Joe Turiello. In his new position, Turiello will work with the manufacturing assembly, quality assurance, purchasing and customer service groups to support the company’s growth.
Turiello has over 30 years of engineering and management experience. He was most recently the manager of advanced manufacturing and product engineering for ITT Space Systems (Clifton, NJ). He holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology (Newark, NJ), and has completed the Six Sigma process improvement certification.
PD&D caught up with Turiello to talk to him about his new position, the future of Bio-Chem, and his thoughts on the industry.
PD&D: First of all, congratulations on your new position. How are things going so far?
Joe Turiello: I’m enjoying my new role. I’m in a much smaller environment, but in my previous job it would sometimes take a year to build one of anything. When you build a satellite they don’t come off of the line like an M&M, you are building large, high customized systems that are extremely complex. So sometimes it’s hard to see the day to day accomplishments. Here, we build a very small, precise product, and I can make a change to the production environment and see an immediate impact. I get a lot of positive, or negative feedback right away. The cycle of implementing change is a lot quicker, and that is a refreshing thing for me.
PD&D: What type of experience do you have, and how will this knowledge strengthen Bio-Chem?
Turiello: I come off of a long term career with a large aerospace manufacturer, and I will be able to leverage the manufacturing technology techniques that I learned, and bring them to this business so we can move forward.
I worked with electronic counter measures, which are radar jammers that protect pilots, and after that I worked on the GPS satellite program. GPS has become a daily commodity, people are very used to pressing a button and hearing “you have arrived;” and working with electronic counter measures, someone’s life is in your hands. So the products that I produced were very important, number one, and needed to have a high reliability.
Bio-Chem products are primarily used in chemical testing and some medical applications, so while they make a smaller cog in the wheel, it is no less important than the larger system. The fact that I made high reliably products to exacting standards is a compatibility with what I did before and what I am doing now.
PD&D: What are some of the most significant changes you have noticed in the industry?
Turiello: I’ll tell you what, manufacturing is still alive and well in the United States. A lot of it is on a much smaller scale, such as companies like Bio-Chem. I think that we are proof that if you have a good product and you use good manufacturing techniques, you can be commercially viable producing goods in the United States. You don’t have to go overseas to produce your goods.
PD&D: Based on what you know of the industry today, where do you think it is heading in the next five years?
Turiello: Bio-Chem is looking to expand its product line and branch out into other application areas. I believe we will look more to the OEM level for larger volume orders. In the past we did a lot of customization orders, and while we still want to offer this to our customers, I think the real growth will come from being part of the OEM sector. We will be looking out of our traditional markets.
PD&D: What are some examples of how Bio-Chem has had to think smarter to stay ahead of competition?
Turiello: We are bringing more work in house where we have greater control over it. We find that we can do it better and cheaper this way. Getting control of that aspect of our supply chain is a benefit to us. We have developed a niche as far as manufacturing is goes; we do it well and we are finding out that by doing that, and by buying good, efficient tools, that we can be more competitive.
PD&D: Can you provide us with a brief recap of one of the newest products?
Turiello: One of the products that Bio-Chem released right before I started working was the electronic rotary valve. It is a polymer to polymer seal and a very space efficient way of having multiple distribution channels through a common port for a multitude of different types of equipment manufacturers. It has been received very well in the industry and we feel it is going to be a good product for us.
PD&D: What is the most interesting project that has crossed your desk over the years?
Turiello: I would have to say working on the GPS satellite. That was a privilege because it is such a universally useful tool. It started out as a defense project, then it got commercialized and now it is such a part of everybody’s life. We take it for granted. Just working on something that touches so many people was a very exciting project.
PD&D: What keeps you up at night?
The fact that the United States on the whole seems way too willing to give up its manufacturing capabilities for short term profits. I think ultimately you need to build something as a society to create wealth and to keep generating wealth. If you give that away, you put yourself in an extremely vulnerable position. Somewhere down the line you will no longer get to pick the price because you don’t have options after that, you will have given away that capability. You no longer have a bargaining chip.