WIGGINS — AccuTech owner John Prickett could be teaching Business Principles 101 when he discusses the philosophy he’s used to start and grow his Stone County manufacturing company. The entrepreneurial-spirited mechanical engineer saw the need for a product and set about producing it.
“I became interested in ship unloading equipment and saw a need for it while working as a consulting engineer,” he said. “My wife, Paula, and I started AccuTech in 1988 and manufactured this equipment for the Gulfport and Pascagoula ports. We’ve had wonderful growth since then and branched out to build other equipment.”
That growth included a 2002 spurt of a 70% increase in sales over the previous year. Production that year grew fourfold. Prickett said 2003 saw a 30% rate of growth and it’s 40% so far this year in sales and production.
The company manufactures 12 industrial products, including marine bearings for commercial boats, six models of front-end loaders and two different backhoes. AccuTech also grew physically by moving from its 7,200-square-foot facility to a new 20,000-square-foot building last fall.
AccuTech employs 12 people and feels that finding good employees and training them is important to the operation. “Every employee counts,” Prickett said. “Each one is crucial to any operation.”
He’s a firm believer in training and cross training and makes good use of classes available through Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in Perkinston. He points out that everyone in his work force can weld and read blueprints because of those classes.
AccuTech has also taken advantage of training through the U.S. Department of Labor’s apprenticeship program for machinists. Prickett applied in 1988, developed a training plan and has periodical reviews by the Labor Department.
“You won’t get these programs if you don’t ask,” is his motto. Prickett worked with a number of inventors and researched patents to get his loaders to market.
“It’s not a good invention if you can’t make it and sell it. I’m much more interested in developing and getting a good product on the market,” he said. “I’d rather get it out there and get some customers using it than tie it up for years in the patenting process. We’re not limiting ourselves to marine and farm equipment at all and will build whatever clients need.”
Responding to distributor requests, AccuTech is working on the prototype for automated plasma-cutting equipment that will be used for cutting metal plates in manufacturing. They are also exploring the possibility of producing hydraulic components. This technically minded manufacturer believes in taking advantage of new technology.
“We look for new ways to grow and will respond to a needed product or service,” he said.
They first began the design and manufacturing of front-end loaders for dealers with gray market tractors in Georgia and California in 1993. Every unit is built to meet the demands of the buyer and must be ordered in advance.
“We believe our loaders are the top of the line,” Prickett said. “Over the years we have made minor changes and improvements on our equipment and we stand behind them.”
He admits it took a while to get the AccuTech name out there. The company has had good cooperation from the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association, which put them in touch with distributors who sell to dealers who in turn sell to farmers and construction companies.
“We’ve expanded our sales to dealers and distributors rather than to individuals and that’s making up most of the growth we’ve had during the past year,” he said. “I’m real pleased with the way the company is growing.”
Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at email@example.com.