ACS Industries Plays it Safe With Customers, Employees

Fri May 13, 2005 - National Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

When it really comes down to it, safety is Joe Zeno’s top priority.

Sure, the president of ACS Industries Inc., originally known as American Coupler Systems, in Kent, OH, is looking to make a profit, but not if it means putting his employees or his customers in a dangerous situation.

At its Ohio facility, the company, which first introduced the ACS quick coupler system for wheel loaders in 1968, earned Ohio Workman Compensation’s highest safety rating and boasts the lowest number of incidents of lost time in its category.

“Good companies don’t have bad safety records,” said Zeno, who took over the company in 1974.

This philosophy is reflected in the products they manufacture, which have become more and more popular over the years.

When Zeno took the helm, using attachments to expand the function of excavators and wheel loaders had not yet gained the momentum it has today.

He said ACS had to do a lot of “missionary work,” preaching the glories of attachments at a job site. And when the company’s engineering department took on the task of developing ACS couplers, it listened to what the contractors had to say.

Originally, ACS focused only on engineering and sales. With Zeno’s efforts, the company turned a profit for the first time in 1976 and has remained profitable each year since.

In 1977, the company began manufacturing its products in a rented facility in Kent. By 1979, it was able to construct its own plant, also in Kent.

As part of the growth, ACS acquired Asbury Industries in Bridgeville, PA, and moved its operations to Kent.

The facility has been expanded four times since then — 1983, 1986, 1996 and 2004 — to its present size of approximately 100,000 sq. ft.

Even as the company expanded, safety maintained its top position on the list of priorities. In 1989, ACS purchased Sabine Metal and Machine in Houston, TX, moving that operation to Kent in 1992.

In 1999, ACS acquired Mann Corp. and Progressive Attachments Corp., both in Seattle, WA. When speaking about the acquisition, Zeno pointed out that the companies’ safety record placed it in the bottom 10 percent in the state.

But by 2004, the ACS facility, which moved to Arlington in 2001, placed in the top 10 percent in Washington.

Arnold Mattei III, of Mattei Excavation in Wilmington, DE, knows ACS’s safety record first-hand.

The company owns two Komatsu PC300 excavators, both of which are equipped with ACS couplers. One has clocked 4,500 hours and the other 2,500 hours. Neither has ever dropped an attachment at a job site.

Mattei Excavation does a lot of pipework and Mattei said changing from a trenching bucket to a bailing bucket several times a day eats up a lot of time.

“With our ACS hydraulic couplers, it only takes about two minutes,” he said. “Over a period of a year, it pays for itself.”

ACS manufactures attachments for wheel loaders, loader backhoes, excavators, mini-excavators, motorgraders and dozers.

For more information, visit CEG

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