Butler material handling equipment manufacturer realigns management team

Bushman Equipment Inc., a Butler-based firm that designs, engineers and manufactures custom material handling systems for heavy industrial customers, recently realigned its management team in Milwaukee and Toronto to accommodate future growth. Bushman’s Canadian operations work under the Avon Engineering name.

Both companies are owned by Ralph Deger, who serves as president of both companies.

Bushman recently promoted Peter Kerrick to executive vice president and Ken Lewis to chief engineer. John Brammer has been promoted to managing director of Avon Engineering, and Ken Lewis has been named chief engineer at Avon.

The promotions will position both Bushman and Avon for solid future growth because of the industry expertise the candidates possess, Deger said.

“We’ve got crane expertise in Milwaukee and heavy steel experience in Toronto,” he said. “We now have tremendous knowledge of how to make heavy materials and how to move those materials. Blending what we have in Toronto and Milwaukee gives us such a neat mix of products and knowledge of steel and crane capabilities.”

Many of the material handling systems that Bushman and Avon create are crane-based and custom designed. The recent promotions will help strengthen the company for future growth because of the experience of its employees, Deger said.

“What we sell isn’t so much product A off the shelf,” he said. “It’s more that you have a specific material handling need and I create it.”

Growth in the steel industry gave Bushman and Avon about 10 percent growth in 2008. Now that the steel industry is softer, Deger said both companies are seeking customers in other industries, but declined to say what industries they are looking into.

“We’re going into the new year with a healthy backlog but our orders are slipping,” he said. “Second quarter outgoing (orders) might be soft. I would be surprised if we had the same growth this year we had (last year) but I still think there’s opportunity out there. We’ve just got to marshal our resources to go get them.”

Bushman and Avon each have about 35 employees. In the coming year, the companies will increasingly work as one company, Deger said.

“I want to blend them into one entity that can use the skills at both locations to get aggressive in the marketplace,” he said.

For more information, visit www.bushman.com.

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