Business & Economic News

Franklin Tubular Gears Up to Grow

By Ryan Hanchett – | Date: January 18, 2017

Business is good, and projected to get even better over the next two years, for one of Macon County’s leading manufacturers.

Franklin Tubular Products General Manager John Edgemon updated the Macon County Economic Development Commission about his company’s progress at the EDC board’s January meeting. Edgemon was excited to share that Franklin Tubular is primed for high growth thanks to expanding corporate relationships and an increased workload.

“Things have been going really well at FTP, and we are excited for this year because we feel like the economy is finally beginning to turn around,” Edgemon said. “Our major business partners are John Deere, Caterpillar, Navistar, Eaton and we recently added Volvo.”

Edgemon added that Volvo had a previous relationship with Franklin Tubular before going to a different supplier. FTP was able to win Volvo’s business back due to their improvements in production efficiency and product quality.
“Anytime you can go and get a customer back it’s a big deal,” Edgemon said. “We are projecting as much as 20 percent revenue growth in the next year.”

Franklin Tubular produces a full range of industrial tubing products, including diesel injection lines used in heavy equipment.

As orders have begun to roll in for products in 2018, Edgemon noted that the company could potentially realize back-to-back years of 20 percent revenue growth.

“We are doing very well in terms of meeting our customers’ expectations, and at the same time some of our competitors are struggling in that area,” Edgemon said. “Some of the companies that were considering whether or not to stay with us three or four years ago, now consider us to be among their best suppliers.”

John Deere is one such company.

“John Deere was one of the first companies I met with when I came to FTP,” Edgemon said. “Their people told me later, at the time they were developing an exit strategy. Not only have we turned that relationship around, we now are getting more of their business than ever before.”

Despite Caterpillar’s efforts to consolidate facilities and streamline the manufacturing process, the company’s relationship with FranklinTubular is projected to expand. Edgemon noted that business with Caterpillar alone is expected to increase by 20 percent in the next year.

“Even with the new orders coming in and new customers coming on board, we have been able to deliver quality parts,” Edgemon said. “I have told my guys, as long as we keep delivering, our partners are going to keep piling orders on.”

Edgemon informed the EDC that the company will likely begin looking for additional employees later this spring and into the summer. Finding quality labor has been a problem in the past for FTP, but Edgemon expressed confidence when asked about the hiring process by EDC member Johnny Mira-Knippel.

Franklin Tubular currently employs 75 people and Edgemon said the company could eclipse the 100-employee mark in the next two years.

“We have worked with Dale West at N.C. Works and we have gotten much better at the hiring process,” Edgemon said. “We created some job profiles for different jobs and we have changed how we are sorting through resumes. The last time we added employees, we added four and all four are still on staff.”

EDC member Barbara McRae asked Edgemon if the current FTP facility on Van Raalte Street is large enough to handle the company’s projected growth.
“We are in good shape for now, but it could become cramped rather quickly,” Edgemon said. “I know that is something that I have talked with Tommy (Jenkins) and our CEO about. We still have some space that we could access if needed.”

Jenkins asked for consensus of the board to setup a site visit to FTP later this year. That consensus was granted.
“For some of us that haven’t been in that building in a while, it is really night and day what FTP has done to that facility,” Jenkins said. “I think it would be an excellent outing for this board to go and see first hand all of the advances that have been made there and get a feel for where they are headed.”