Cardinal Scale Manufacturing – Webb City

Cardinal Scale Manufacturing of Webb City manufactures one of the most recognized — but unnoticed — American brands in the world.

Detecto, a division of Cardinal ScaleYou’ll find it under almost anything that can be weighed.

Established in 1950 by Webb City entrepreneur William H. Perry, Cardinal Scale Manufacturing tapped an exploding market as the post-World War II construction boom required huge amounts of concrete, steel, stone and asphalt that had to be transported and weighed.

At the time, the huge scales made of iron, springs and counterbalances were inadequate to the task of weighing mid-20th century equipment. Cardinal captured the opportunity, and the company has continued to evolve to meet market demands.

In 1973, Cardinal acquired the L.R. Murphy Company in California, maker of the Murphy Scale, and integrated its operations with plants in Webb City, Sacramento and Denver. In the 1980s, Cardinal acquired the Detecto Scale Company, maker of the scale patients step on every time they go to the doctor’s office. The Detecto line broadened Cardinal’s offerings to include scales with under-5,000 lb. capacity for other uses.

In time, Cardinal began to feel the threat of international competition.

According to Larry Hicks, Cardinal vice president, “Our major competitors have moved all manufacturing operations to China or other parts of the world. We manufacture 95 percent of what we sell in our Webb City facility and pride ourselves on supporting our local economy by providing jobs and USA-made products.

“In these days of challenging budgets, purchasers now more than ever are forced to overlook key factors such as ‘Made in USA’ and ‘highest quality’ for bottom-dollar pricing. We had to find ways to remain competitive.”

So Cardinal reached out to TAAF for assistance. The funds were used to enhance infrastructure, establish an enterprise software platform and implement staff training on a resource planning tool.

an upright scale“That was just as the economy crumbled around us,” Hicks says. “This new system has allowed us to gain a better handle on product costs, planning and production efficiency as well as management reporting to remain competitive against overseas products.”

Hicks adds that a significant portion of the funding was dedicated to “virtualizing” the company to improve efficiency and disaster recovery procedures.

“We now have our critical tier I servers backing up in real time to a datacenter located 75 miles away in a secure underground facility. We were only miles north of the Joplin tornado and saw how critical disaster recovery of systems is,” Hicks says. “We have also provided our sales teams with iPads, so they have access to the most current pricing information and customer sales data to make the most competitive bids possible.

“We also used a portion of the grant for production supervisor training to improve their skills in communication and leader effectiveness. This enables us to continue to create and manage the best work environment for employees.”

TAAF project manager Ken Scheve assisted Cardinal with the improvements. Hicks calls him a “phenomenal resource.” Scheve assisted the company in defining the scope of the grant and identifying the items that would benefit Cardinal’s investment in matching the grant.

“Once we received approval, Ken walked us through each step of the process in a transparent way that minimized our paperwork while ensuring all requirements of the grant were met,”

Hicks adds. “As we worked through the grant, some of our priorities changed and Ken helped us make minor course adjustments to maximize our benefit. He was an indispensable team member.”

small Cardinal scaleHicks also credits his team with helping Cardinal weather the rough patch so effectively.

“As a company, we have been blessed to have very hardworking, creative and dedicated people who work every day on difficult projects to help us remain competitive. Because of this, we have made it through some very difficult times the past three years and just closed the books on a successful 12 months in today’s very tough global market,” Hicks says.

He notes that since the initiation of TAAF assistance through the completion of the final intervention, Cardinal Scale has remained a strong company, seeing increased business each year and adding jobs to the local economy.

“We are sincerely grateful for the opportunity to participate in this exceptional grant program,” Hicks says, “and we feel that the grant allowed us to position ourselves as a global competitor well into the next decade.”

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