The One Stop Remanufacturing Shop

Flight Systems Industrial Products

With over 6,000 remanufactured part numbers and 3,500 new part numbers available, Flight Systems Industrial Products (FSIP) is the go-to company for the remanufacturing and manufacturing of a wide range of electric vehicle controls and parts. “We consider ourselves a one stop shop for all controls,” says President Barry Bowman.

The Carlisle, Pennsylvania company primarily services the forklift, golf cart, and aerial lift industries, and is also equipped to handle parts related to scrubber-sweepers, scooters, mining, cars, electric boats, go-karts, and ground support equipment.

FSIP has been in business for nearly five decades. In its early years, the company was heavily involved in the aerospace industry. FSIP’s focus has evolved over the decades, however, and the team has zeroed in on a lucrative niche within the remanufacturing and small run manufacturing sectors.

Remanufacturing offers the customer some clear advantages. “There is a difference between repairing something and remanufacturing something,” Mr. Bowman explains. “Doing a repair means fixing a specific component that has failed on a control. Unfortunately, repair does not take into account how the other parts of the circuitry may have been affected by the failed component. If a component fails, the other power components that are in parallel with each other are weakened. Simply replacing the failed power component will fix the control, but it’s a short-term remedy and it won’t extend the operating life of the control, since the other components are now stressed.” FSIP’s remanufacturing process replaces all failed and stressed components.

Remanufacturing allows customers to enjoy the benefits of the latest technology at a fraction of the cost. “Our products usually run about 50 percent of new,” says Pam Jones, Director of Sales and Marketing for FSIP. Remanufacturing is also a greener alternative to manufacturing a brand new product. “It goes without saying that if you can extend the life of the control than you are not going to use as many natural resources,” Mr. Bowman points out. These resources often include copper, silver, gold and other metals, not to mention energy. Furthermore, FSIP recycles any waste that is produced by the remanufacturing process.

The team relies on its strong industry relationships to supply customers with the best remanufactured product. “Our strategy for the last 15 years has been to team up with the manufacturers and the OEMs of the industry,” Mr. Bowman shares. The technology and software surrounding the products FSIP remanufactures is constantly advancing, so staying in close contact with these products’ OEMs is absolutely essential. “In order to stay on top of our game, we have to align ourselves with the OEMs so that we have those updates and we can provide our customers with the most recent versions of the product.” Mr. Bowman adds, “That is probably the biggest advantage that we have over our competition.”

FSIP also specializes in small run manufacturing. This means that the company can manufacture in small quantities and still be cost effective. In the past, many OEMs simply stopped manufacturing a component once quantities dropped below a certain level. “Now, they will turn that manufacturing over to us,” explains Ms. Jones. As a result, older equipment that is still being utilized can be serviced and repaired. “These are parts that are still needed in the industry.”

FSIP significantly increased its manufacturing levels when it acquired certain assets of General Electric’s Motion Controls Business in 2010. Primarily located in Patillas, Puerto Rico, the business manufactured and distributed controls used in a variety of electric vehicle applications including forklifts, neighborhood electric vehicles, golf carts, walkies, tuggers, go-karts and personnel carriers. FSIP had already worked closely with GE for over 12 years prior to the acquisition, during which time the team assisted with remanufacturing, warranty services and the manufacturing of certain controls and components. The acquisition has allowed FSIP to become even more involved with GE, as all of the products that were being manufactured by GE’s Patillas Puerto Rico plant are now being produced in FSIP’s facility.

Whether the team is remanufacturing or manufacturing, they are always committed to putting the customer first. “One of the things that really sets us apart is our high standard for customer service,” says Ms. Jones. “We believe that the relationships we have with our customers differentiates us in the industry. We have a customer service mentality throughout the plant, not just in our customer service department.”

Honesty and integrity, of course, are key to maintaining FSIP’s high level of customer satisfaction. “I am a man of principle and of my word,” Mr. Bowman says. “I believe that if you tell someone you are going to do something, you follow through with it.”

FSIP is also committed to quality. “We are very quality driven,” says Mr. Bowman. He explains that remanufacturing requires highly technical, hands-on work, so employees must adhere to strict regulations in order to ensure that every product is being handled in the proper way. In addition, all FSIP products are fully load tested, carry a one year warranty, are fully upgraded to the latest OEM specifications, and are analyzed by certified electronic technicians. FSIP has also earned ISO 9001:2008 quality control accreditation.

The team understands that it is FSIP’s employees who are ultimately responsible for providing top notch customer service and quality products. “We have high expectations of our employees,” Ms. Jones remarks. “Our number one resource is the employee,” Mr. Bowman adds. “We only succeed when they do what is required and perform at the levels that we are looking for.”

Mr. Bowman himself began his career at FSIP 27 years ago, working his way up from a draftsman all the way to the top. He expects that same level of dedication and effort from his employees, and is willing to reward them with the same promotions that he once earned. “I got where I am through the school of hard knocks,” he explains. “It was no silver spoon. And I have taken that same theory with a lot of my management positions. I believe wholeheartedly in promoting from within. That is how I got where I am and that is the same policy we continue today.”

Indeed, he is eager to continue moving the company forward. The economy has been challenging recently, but FSIP has managed to come out on top. FSIP actually benefited from previous recessions because customers were looking to save money by remanufacturing components rather than buying new. The latest recession, however, proved much tougher. “The last recession hit so many sectors that, for the first time, it had an impact on us,” Mr. Bowman explains. “Our industry as a whole was down 35 percent, but we were able to reduce our exposure to about 16 percent.” Fortunately, the team was able to gain valuable insight from the difficult situation. “We learned a lot of lessons from the last recession,” Mr. Bowman says.

“We learned that we have got to continue expanding into other markets; we have got to continue expanding our offerings.” As a result, the company has invested heavily in its sales and marketing team and its engineering team. “You have got to spend money to make money,” Mr. Bowman insists. When things slow down, the businesses that actually invest during those downtimes are the ones that are going to be ready to go when the business picks up again.”

Fortunately, business has picked back up again. “I think that the markets that we service are going to see moderate growth in the near term,” Mr. Bowman predicts. He doesn’t believe this growth will be what it was in the late 90s and early 2000s, of course; his estimate is a modest three to five percent annual growth in the industries that FSIP services.

FSIP itself is expecting much greater growth. “We continue to forecast double digit growth each year,” Mr. Bowman reports. In fact, the company is growing at such a rapid pace that the team is planning to expand its 47,000 square foot facility by an additional 15,000 square feet. “We are pretty much maxed out,” Mr. Bowman admits. “We added on in 2010 thinking that would be enough, and now, here we are less than four years later, out of room again.” It’s a good problem to have, and FSIP is eager to keep growing – even if it means yet another addition.

September 23, 2017, 3:57 PM EDT

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