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Trust Builds Strong Customer Connections

Trust Builds Strong Customer Connections

Kirk Ryan Building trust by keeping promises and exceeding expectations. That’s been the key to more than four decades of success at family-owned Motor Technology Inc., according to Kirk Ryan, MTI President.

“Our customers want to know that we know them. Who they are. What they are trying to do with their business and on a project. They want to know that they can trust us to give them intelligent solutions and great support,” Ryan said. “The guy in the plant, he wants to have a close relationship with our guys. And that’s where the trust comes from.”

MTI, an EASA-accredited electric motor repair facility, offers technical expertise, innovative services, and state-of-the-art testing equipment to build, service, and sell industrial motors, controls, gearboxes, and any other related equipment for advanced electric motor systems. 

The company has just under 100 employees at its 65,000-square foot facility and serves customers in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and other parts of the mid-Atlantic. 

MTI’s mission is to provide outstanding service to customers. That means providing quick turnaround, clear communications, and always, always doing what it says it will do. 

“When we make a promise we stick with it,” Ryan said. “We are always here to serve 24 hours. There were days in the beginning of my career that I lived, worked, and slept the business. When someone was down, we got them back up and running again no matter what it took. And we still do that.” 

Staying in touch with all key players – not just the plant personnel – is critical, Ryan said. 

“It’s not just the guy on the plant floor we want to be connected. We also want the management to know us. What we are doing for them. We want them to know we are listening to them and understanding them. And, we especially want them to know that we will take the monkey off their backs and put it on ours to keep them up and running.” 

That approach is especially valuable to customers who have lost personnel and the tribal knowledge of their systems and equipment that went with them. 

“So many people are retiring now. Our customers have lost a critical part of their knowledge base. That means they need us more now than ever,” Ryan said. “A lot of times, we have better records on their equipment than they do. So they rely on us to know their business, be there to handle their equipment, and solve their problems.” 

Ryan said knowing Yaskawa has MTI’s back in supporting customers is a big deal. 

“Yaskawa’s customer service and technical knowledge is incredible,” he said. “When we can’t get the answers, we need to rely on Yaskawa. And they always come through.”

“That’s been our experience all the way back to when they were Magnetek. The expertise, knowledge and years of experience are so valuable to us. We’ve leveraged their training classes. I saw the plant. Met the employees. It was a great experience. We just always have the trust we can count on them.” 

The same values that foster the MTI-Yaskawa relationship are prevalent in the MTI culture. 

“We are a family business, always have been. As a result, we try to incorporate our employees into that family ideal. We teach them. We worry about them. We take care of them. We recognize them. We try to make things better for them. After all, they’re our most valuable asset,” Ryan said. 

That philosophy leads to high employee retention rates for MTI. Workers routinely hit 10, 20 and 25-year anniversaries. Even after retirement, many workers stay on in 1- to 2-day-a-week consultant roles. 

Ryan represents the second generation of the family-owned company. He and his father started the company in 1981, and his dad worked into his 80s. His son is the Vice President with a mechanical degree, and will succeed him as President and CEO. His daughter works as a sales rep, and his son-in-law works as a shop foreman. 

“Kirk Jr. is a mechanic at heart, and he is very technically inclined. He has a clear vision as to how he will grow the company in this new era,” Ryan said. “And Stacy is one of our leading salespeople. So we’ve got plenty of family involved; the future is clear. The next generation will continue to build the company.” 

Ryan said he is carefully taking steps to foster a successful transition to the next generation. 

“My dad didn’t leave until he was around 80. I think he regretted working that long, but it’s tough to leave something you worked so hard to build,” Ryan said. “I’m 68. I don’t want to work that long. So, I’m looking to slowly work my way out. But I can already see where my dad was coming from. It's very hard to slow down.” 

“But it’s good to know our family will carry the company forward with the idea that we will always keep our promises to customers,” Ryan said. “That’s our success story and it always will be.”