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A successful equation: Poulan Industries continues impressive growth at Nashville plant.

A company with operations at Nashville has found the equation for success.

Employee and customer satisfaction, a waste management program and in-state purchasing of parts and supplies are elements that have produced a 15 percent annual growth rate for Poulan Industries.

The company is a world leader in electric- and gas-powered products such as Poulan Weed Eaters, blowers and chain saws.

The Shreveport, La.-based company was purchased from Emerson Electric Co. in December 1986 by the Swedish-owned Electrolux Corp. Poulan then became a division of White Consolidated Industries Inc., the holding company for U.S. subsidiaries of Electrolux.

Poulan has operated a manufacturing plant at Nashville since 1976. With 1,400 employees, the plant is a major employer in southwest Arkansas.

Mike McCann, vice president of operations at the Nashville plant, says involving employees in important company decisions is part of a total quality management program that keeps morale high.

McCann has run the Nashville plant since 1984.

The company's continued success is evidenced by its expansion. Poulan has increased the number of employees at Nashville by almost one-third since 1990.

McCann also points to the fact that Poulan's waste management program has resulted in a 99 percent reduction in wastes since it was implemented five years ago.

Jerry Wilcox, Poulan's environmental safety engineer, designed a cleaner-separator to recycle alcohol that is used to clean oil from some of the parts. Both the oil and alcohol are reused.

The device saved Poulan $16,000 in its first year of use.

The Nashville plant produces more than 3 million products annually. Metal castings are purchased for the products. They then are cut and assembled at the plant.

Spending In Arkansas

Poulan also is spending more money in Arkansas these days, McCann says. In 1986, the company held the state's first MatchMaker trade show in cooperation with the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission.

"We put all the parts we buy on display in Hot Springs and had representatives of Arkansas companies attend the event to see if they could make them for us," McCann says.

More than 100 company representatives showed up. Since then, Poulan has increased its spending in Arkansas from $4 million to more than $60 million.

"Many companies outside of Arkansas have moved their operations here so they can do business with us," McCann says. "We basically told them the only way we would do business was if they were located in Arkansas."

Poulan is credited with popularizing the MatchMaker programs, which are designed to connect Arkansas manufacturers with potential suppliers. The most recent MatchMaker program in southwest Arkansas attracted 210 companies.
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Author:Harper, Kim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Jun 1, 1992
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