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Archived: Mestek, Orion Find New Business Close to Home in Massachusetts

Posted on January 31, 2012

Richard Kessler of Mestek Inc. in Westfield and Peter Smith of Orion Industries in Ayer both admit to being a bit surprised that the two companies would end up doing business as a result of a BuyMass Matchmaking event at Mestek in November.

BuyMassMestek, after all, is a $400 million heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems maker that until recently bought thermal insulation materials from a national supplier located in the southern United States.

Orion is a 35-person company that typically sells fabricated parts to electronics and medical-device companies. Orion sold thermal insulation years ago to a Massachusetts HVAC manufacturer, but that company eventually moved production overseas.

Two weeks after the BuyMass event, however, Mestek placed an initial order for thermal insulation materials with Orion. The Ayer company is now bidding on a second project to supply Mestek with gasket pieces.

“Orion showed an interest in our business and demonstrated the strong technical ability that we need. Their lead time was also better than the incumbent and speed wins,” said Mr. Kessler, the Vice President of Supply Management at Mestek and the executive in charge of the BuyMass event.

He reported that two or three other companies that attended the matchmaking session may also become Mestek partners.

Mr. Smith, the Orion Industries sales manager, came to the November 17 BuyMass event with a case of the flu and some serious doubts about whether his company could provide products that Mestek needed. He walked curiously around a display of Mestek boilers before his meeting, looking inside each one to determine whether it might use Orion products.

“We were very pleasantly surprised to get the business,” Mr. Smith said.

“Mestek is not a typical customer for us – we’re usually doing fabricated parts for specialized electronic equipment. But to gain this business over a company in the south with lower overhead is exciting.”

Orion, founded in 1973, designs and manufactures custom parts, specializing in electrical insulation, gaskets and seals, thermal transfer materials, and EMI/RFI shield laminates.

Mestek met with 19 potential suppliers overall at the November event,  the latest in a series of supplier-matchmaking sessions organized by AIM’s BuyMass initiative as part of an effort to encourage the development of commercial relationships among Massachusetts companies. BuyMass created a matchmaking event for Raytheon Company in the spring of 2011 at which the defense engineering company met with 15 potential suppliers.

Additional BuyMass Matchmaking events will be scheduled this year. The meetings have produced a number of successful supply relationships among Massachusetts companies, including one between Raytheon and office products manufacturer Roxbury Technology Corporation of Hyde Park.

Mr. Kessler said the BuyMass event offered Mestek an efficient way to find interesting and price-competitive companies that will help it win worldwide market share. He noted that Orion not only offered a lower unit price than its competitors, but also a lower total acquired cost, a broader category that includes selling, transportation, minimum order quantities, lead time, stocking programs and technical resources.

“Orion was the clear choice,” he said.

The November BuyMass event was co-sponsored by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development and the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts.