No. 57 – Guild International

Michael Wheeler

Michael Wheeler

Guild International Inc. – Mike Wheeler, president

Q: Give us an example of a business challenge your organization faced, as well as how you overcame it.

Our active US customer base has decreased by more than 80 percent during the past 15 to 20 years due to lack of growth in the U.S. steel industry. In order to continue growing, we have traveled extensively to Asia and Europe to find new customers. Building a new customer base in far off countries requires persistence and a keen desire to understand each customer’s unique requirements and adapt the machinery to meet their needs. Today, more than 95 percent of our machinery is exported throughout the world.

Q: In what ways are you an innovative leader, and how does your organization employ innovation to be on the leading edge?

Guild has been awarded more than 25 patents on new inventions for our coil end welding machinery over the past 50 years. We are always striving to improve the known methods and ways to join coils on steel process lines. The latest technology in engineering and manufacturing software are linked together to keep us on the cutting edge.

Q: What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned and how have you applied it?

Patience has been and continues to be a virtue worth understanding, especially in this fast paced world. When we started our sales efforts in Asia, it would take four to eight meetings with new prospective customers, over a period of one to two years, before we were considered a possible worthy supplier.

The machinery we design and manufacture requires approximately 12 months, additionally it takes another six to 12 months for the machine to be installed and commissioned in a new steel process line, and then the warranty period of 12 months needs to elapse before we receive our final payment. This three-to-four-year time frame from order date until the final payment is received has indeed taught us patience.

I would like to thank the banking community in Cleveland for believing in us and affording us the lines of credit to finance all these foreign jobs, without their support these export projects would not have been possible.

Q: How does your organization make a significant impact on the community and regional economy?

For 52 years, Guild has been located in the Bedford area and we utilize local suppliers to supply the electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic and welding components used within our machinery. Additionally, Guild supports the local drug awareness programs on the radio and supports United Way and other charities.

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