One result of that process was a decision to pursue customers in the industrial adhesives market. About six months ago, Hampford Sales Director John Jury started knocking on doors and found a receptive audience. One firm was interested in a current Hampford product but required different performance specifications. Hampford’s technical staff developed an alternative process that met the customer’s needs.
“We just got full approval all the way down the line,” Donahue reports. “Orders should be placed in the next week or two.” She now has her eye on emerging markets such as three-dimensional television and photovoltaics, where customers, 40% of which are offshore, can take advantage of Hampford’s expertise in display materials and photoinitiators.
Donahue explains that she saw the economic downturn coming early in 2008, thanks to contacts developed through Vistage, a chief executive leadership organization she belongs to. She responded by pushing through layoffs in the middle of that year. As a result, in early 2009 when business was cratering everywhere, Hampford went to a four-day workweek for two months but didn’t have to let anybody else go. The firm’s workforce now stands at 30, off about 20% from its peak.
Personal care and dental product markets held up last year for Hampford, but sales to printing and electronics customers tumbled. Overall, Donahue says, sales fell 15 to 20% in 2009. But on the basis of first-quarter results, she expects sales to rise 25% this year.