Engineered Products Co.
In 1976 Pete Lee founded Engineered Products Co. (EPCO) to supply standard and unique electrical products for commercial, industrial, residential and agricultural buildings. For nearly 40 years, the business has grown, developing reliable, durable and high-quality electrical components for a diverse market.
Duncan Lee, Pete’s son and current CEO, now leads the business. He is accompanied by a strong management team, including Jack Schuster, president of EPCO.
“There isn’t another company in the country that has our product mix,” says Jack. “We import, manufacture and assemble products. We have a facility here in Minnetonka, Minn., and we work with a manufacturing contractor overseas. We do not install our products, but we will customize this equipment for our clients and assemble it in-house. All of our products are wired and installed by qualified electrical contractors.”
Jack explains that his team doesn’t necessarily have a niche. “We sell into niches,” he notes. “We sell to many target markets through independent sales representatives. We have established a unique product line that, from the outside looking in, looks very eclectic, but it makes sense when we can tell the whole story.” The company’s end users include data centers, poultry farmers and parking garages, to name a few.
In recent years, EPCO has rolled out several lines of new products and improvements. The business continues to evolve, meeting the changing needs of end users. Often, suggestions come in through sales representatives, either seeking to fill a need in the market or upon request by contractors. Sometimes, an existing product is almost a perfect fit, so the team will make slight adjustments to better serve customers.
For example, EPCO’s new ProSeries LED Utility Light is a line extension of two incandescent fixtures that the business has produced for several years. These fixtures are popular in several sectors, but the highest volume has been in swine confinement buildings.
“We developed the new LED version as we see a huge LED wave in the United States in all types of lighting,” says Jack. “With the new energy laws, the LED lamp becomes a very practical solution and alternative. We see the LED trend growing with farmers, a market that tends to change very slowly. Imagine a room with 2,000 pigs in it, and you need to change the lamp bulbs. It almost sounds like the lead-in to a joke.”
LED lamps last significantly longer than incandescent lamps, providing a major benefit to end users in labor savings and energy savings. In fact, Jack says some of these lamps could last the lifetime of a swine building without having to be changed.
One of the company’s fastest growing lines is temporary lighting for construction operations. These lighting options are typically used on a construction site during the process when the building has walls up, but no permanent lights.
“We named the first version the TIGER,” Jack notes. “We later introduced a smaller version, a 175-Watt HID and called it the TIGERcub. Due to 2007 government energy regulations and new energy laws, we felt the need to add another version of this temporary style construction light fixture, using a very large 105-watt compact fluorescent lamp. This is priced less than both the Tigers, but slightly more than our most popular deluxe CordLight. We named it the TIGRESS, to keep it within the same product family. It doesn’t produce the same lumen output as the TIGER 400, but it is close to the 175-watt TIGERcub.”
EPCO’s most recent new product helps building owners improve lighting in commercial stairwells while preserving energy. “Most stairwells have their lights on 100 percent of the time and at 100 percent full lumen output,” Jack elaborates. “Typically the older fixtures in a building were energy-hog sodium-vapor fixtures. Many stairwells are never used or are used seldom. Our fixtures dim down when they are unoccupied, saving energy and meeting all city and municipal codes. When the fixture senses motion, they turn on 100 percent. We utilize two different occupancy sensors as options. Part of what drives this product development is the energy savings. Another component is the rebate money offered by electrical utilities in order to entice building owners to invest into new energy-efficient products like our stairwell fixture.”
While many businesses involved in the construction industry have struggled in recent years, Jack and his team have sailed through the recession with flying colors. “We have been extremely busy, setting records month after month,” he explains. “Our biggest challenge is keeping up with demand.”
EPCO’s success comes down to one basic principle: value. All of the company’s products are designed to offer better value to customers than other options on the market. Whether saving energy costs or reducing replacement frequency, end users get more out of EPCO’s products than other manufacturers.
While the lighting product line is the bread and butter of the business’ profit margins, EPCO has been able to attract and keep customers through outstanding customer service. The team fills orders for the diverse product line within a day and ships out a precise order. A company scorecard evaluates 20 metrics monthly, cutting down internal errors and maximizing efficiency. In the coming years, Jack and his team plan to continue on a path of growth through maintaining consistent quality and dependability. With something new always in the works, end users can rely on Engineered Products Co. for top-of-the-line, high-value products on time and to meet the required applications.
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