by: Elizabeth Prann
April 23, 2010 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – A once struggling auto parts plant has found new success building body parts—human body parts.
Turner Medical in Athens, Alabama is a large production facility that makes spinal implants and surgical tools. Employees at Turner take pride in the fact the products they make improve the quality of life for thousands of trauma victims.
They also know if it weren’t for their bosses, the company wouldn’t be around today to make those products. Formerly Turner Machine, the company used to make parts and tools for cars. But as automotive industry jobs and factories were increasingly outsourced to Mexico and China, the company’s sales declined and Turner almost went under.
“The automotive and appliance people were more or less looking for the cheapest price,” said Charlie Tucker, VP of operations at Turner. ”You might do a job for them today and they would drop you tomorrow. The medical customers seem to be a lot more loyal they want to develop a good vendor and they work with us.”
Tucker said the road to success hasn’t been an easy one.
“At the lowest point in our transition we had about 30 to 35 employees,” he said. “Our sales were down [but] once we got into the medical manufacturing, we grew very rapidly. We went from 35 people to about 90 people in less than three or four years.”
General Manager David Brackeen has been with Turner since the late 70s, when the company started. He was 16-years old at the time and remembers making parts for carburetors and fenders. Brackeen says it’s hard to believe, he can barely hire employees to keep up with the increased demand. He manages more than 90 employees who work at the 45,000 sq. foot factory. It’s a 24/7 operation.
“We probably doubled our staff in the past two years because of our growth,” said Brackeen. “We paid our dues to our customers and they rewarded us by putting a lot of work in here. I hired two this morning.”
The company plans on adding more than 30 employees before the end of the year.
Recently, civic and business leaders presented Turner Medical with the Alabama Small Manufacturer of the Year Award.
“We take pride in what we build because it may be used on one of us one of these days,” Brackeen said.
SOURCE: Fox News