Pease seeks to enhance state of manufacturing
New company seeks to enhance state of manufacturing
By Paul Briand
Posted Nov. 8, 2015 at 2:01 AM
PORTSMOUTH – IPSUMM, newly installed at Pease International Tradeport, is essentially five companies in one.
At the top is IPSUMM (www.ipsumm.com) itself, described by its president and chief executive officer, John Kodzis, as “a portfolio company with four business units.”
The business units include: USM Americas, Hudson Cutting Solutions, Next Generation Precision Machine (NGPM), and i2i Engineering.
Seemingly disparate in their names, “they’re all focused on manufacturing,” according to Kodzis.
USM Americas (www.usm-americas.com) distributes the machines, components and supplies to make any kind of shoe. Hudson Cutting Solutions (www.hudsoncutting.com) is a supplier of new and warranteed used die cutting, splitting and skiving machinery and supplies. NGPM (www.ngpm.solutions) specializes in production machinery spare parts and tooling. i2i’s (www.i2iengineering.com) expertise is in automation, using robotic software and machinery.
Each company runs on its own, with its own management structure, its own set of books, with its own profit and loss statements. USM Americas, for instance, is based in Montreal and has its own company president.
“None of the companies are forced to work together,” said Kodzis. “But they have the benefit of talking to each other.”
One might have a product or work solution for the other. Each can purchase – or not purchase – each other’s goods and services.
What IPSUMM provides is the overall management on behalf of a group of private equity investors. It provides the human resources, operations coordination, financial oversight and combined sales.
It’s similar to what you’ll find at a business like International Office Suites at Pease – lots of businesses in one location sharing administrative services. But, instead of being white-collar based, as IOS is, IPSUMM’s focus is on manufacturing.
“One of the most important things we have is the culture we’re growing,” said Kodzis.
While two of the legacy companies – USM Americas and Hudson Cutting – have been around for several years, IPSUMM’s creation dates back to 2012 in Salisbury, Massachusetts. “We look for new entities to buy into this,” Kodzis said of its foundation as a management company. “It’s almost like a community, if you will.”
It was outgrowing its space, according to Kodzis, and looking for property it could invest in. IPSUMM considered locations in Massachusetts, particularly in the North Shore region just over the state line from the Granite State.
It was George Armstead, IPSUMM’s global sales and marketing director, who drove to Pease to take a look around, seeing the vacant building at 68 New Hampshire Ave., the former home of AmSafe Logistics and Support.
That property was previously in a zoning district at Pease that was for aviation dependent businesses. It was rezoned in late 2014 by the Pease Development Authority for commercial. “It aligns itself to the market better as a commercial use than as an aviation use,” PDA Executive Director David Mullen said at the time.
Kodzis recalled hearing from Armstead about his recon mission. “He said, ‘Hey, this looks like a pretty good space,’” he said. “You could see the activity on the tradeport; it was buzzing.”
After some renovation, IPSUMM moved in with its 27 employees. Five remain in Massachusetts and will transition to the Pease location. Its 18,500 square feet are divided between office/administrative and light manufacturing, assembly and distribution. It held an open house Oct. 20 and about 100 people attended.
Kodzis, while concentrating on the company’s needs of today, is looking ahead to the future of manufacturing and how IPSUMM might play a role.
Take the example of footwear, a manufacturing segment with a long history in New Hampshire that has all but faded. There is a strong presence of shoemakers in neighboring Massachusetts (New Balance, Puma and Reebok, to name a few) but little making of the shoes.
“They’re still looking for ways to be competitive,” said Armstead. “Footwear styles change all the time, techniques change all the time.”
Kodzis hopes IPSUMM can help these and others adopt what he calls “tactical manufacturing” techniques that introduce new kinds of machinery – with smarter software and robotics – to make the process of making something more efficient. The i2i products, for instance, use a software called IRIS (Intelligent Robotic Integrated Systems) that can do a variety of tasks in a processing line, such as cutting, assembling, painting and packaging.
“Manufacturing is only going to stay here if we can do it smarter,” Kodzis said.
Some of those tools and ideas exist within the IPSUMM structure, according to Kodzis. But he’d like to see the property on New Hampshire Avenue further developed into an innovation incubation center that helps new and emerging tactical manufacturers get their ideas to market.
Think AlphaLoft for manufacturing. AlphaLoft, with its locations in Portsmouth, Durham and Manchester, is widely known for helping entrepreneurial thinking about the tech sector. IPSUMM could apply the same mentoring for the manufacturing sector, according to Kodzis.
The company promotes what it believes can be the simple ideas of innovation, which is why it uses a paper airplane in its logo.
“You take a piece of paper. You fold it, you fly it. Simplicity,” Kodzis said. “We’re trying to educate people to get them to think differently.”