ANAHEIM — The new owners of Taylor-Dunn, a 41-year-old Anaheim manufacturer of electric vehicles, are hoping to double the company's sales by expanding the product line and slashing costs with new manufacturing techniques.
Six weeks after Arthur J. Goodwin and Milton L. Sneller, former San Fernando Valley electronics executives, acquired the firm in an all-cash, multimillion-dollar deal Goodwin reported several successes.
By adopting manufacturing theories that give more decision-making authority to factory floor workers instead of to one or more supervisors, Taylor-Dunn has already seen a 15% reduction in the time it takes the company's 200 workers to fill and ship customers' orders, Goodwin said.
The goal is to reduce the time for processing orders from months to days, he said.
But more satisfying to Goodwin and Sneller is the first product to roll out of the firm's new "skunk works."
The think tank was established to give employees at all levels a say in product design, Goodwin said: "We put manufacturing people in the design environment, we have them talk to the customers, and then they design products that the customers want and that (can be manufactured) efficiently."
Citing competitive pressures, Goodwin would say only that the new product is "a utility truck for a new niche in the market."
Goodwin said plans call for the company to have 30 or more products by 1992--up from 20 today--with sales of $40 million and 300 employees.
Taylor-Dunn produces electric utility trucks and tow vehicles--small versions of the giant electric trucks used to move passenger jets around airports. The company also imports and assembles Japanese-made golf carts.
For Goodwin and Sneller, both 45, owning Taylor-Dunn fulfills a longtime ambition to put into practice the management techniques they have been preaching for years.
Goodwin, a Northridge resident, founded a Chatsworth circuit board company that he later sold to Data Design Laboratories in 1985. He stayed on under a five-year management contract that recently expired.
Sneller, a longtime Anaheim resident, was Data design's chief operating officer until he resigned late last year to join Goodwin.
The two men went hunting early this year "for a company like this," Goodwin said.
He said he and Sneller put up a "substantial" amount of cash and gained more financing from Crowell, Weedon & Co., the Los Angeles investment banking firm.
"We wanted something that was manufacturing-intensive . . . with a reasonable share of its market and an excellent name," he said.
Taylor-Dunn was not on the market when the two men approached the firm--one of about 20 companies they talked to. "But we made an offer, and they decided to sell," Goodwin said.
R. Davis Taylor II, son of the company founder, has agreed to stay on as president for a year to help with the transition to new owners, Goodwin said.
When he and Sneller moved into the administrative offices July 19, Taylor-Dunn "was a good, solid company with a 30% share of the market nationally and decent sales in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Australia," Goodwin said.
"The company is and was profitable but was run as a traditional, 1950s-style manufacturing plant," he said. "It was well run, but it wasn't really able to compete in the world market of the '90s."
To become the kind of manufacturing plant Goodwin and Sneller envision, management now will focus on "five basic things," Goodwin said:
"The keys are employee involvement, total quality control, simplicity in design and manufacturing processes, total preventive maintenance--fix it before it breaks down--and just-in-time inventory control" that promotes rapid inventory turnover to reduce costs.
"By doing this, we increase profits, increase competitiveness and satisfy customer demands better than our competition, which is what American manufacturing should be doing," Goodwin said.