Wood's Powr Grip
Wood’s Powr-Grip Co., Inc., has had a firm hold on innovation for three generations. In fact, it was good old Montana ingenuity from company founder Howard Wood that revolutionized the American glass industry when he developed and refined pump-action vacuum cups to hold and handle smooth surfaces back in the 1960s. The device featured a proprietary redline indicator to warn of any vacuum loss, allowing the user to restore vacuum without losing a grip.
The engineering behind it was born out of Mr. Wood’s frustration with a traditional tool for holding small engine valves during the lapping process in his automotive, electric and small engine repair shop in Wolf Point, Mont. His innovation would redefine and grow the business into a leading edge U.S. manufacturer.
The family moved the business to a 55,000 sq. ft. facility in Laurel in 1990, where it is still headquartered today. Howard was the grandfather of Bryan, Barry and Brad Wood, brothers who manage Wood’s Powr-Grip today.
New product development at Powr- Grip has typically rolled out from the engineering department with a “blind hand-off ” to marketing and production. The rethinking and redesign would occur after other departments had time to work with the product and ask for changes. Managing the innovation process to get the right product or service out quickly and at an attractive price in today’s hyper-competitive marketplace became an imperative two years ago. The economic downturn turned the tables to needing ways to generate more business.
Powr-Grip designs, manufactures and distributes a full line of hand-held vacuum cups, below-the-hook vacuum lifters and vacuum mounting cups that make materials handling and equipment mounting easier and safer. Its products are used to lift, hold and position smooth, nonporous materials such as glass, plastics, engine valves, sheet metal, solid surfacing, laminates, stone slabs and appliances, primarily in the commercial construction industry. Always innovating, it has also developed tools for lifting non-porous materials. The company enjoyed solid growth during the commercial construction boom worldwide. The sector was extra strong and growing from 2000 to 2006, with growth at Powr-Grip averaging 10-15 percent each year, according to company President Bryan Wood.
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