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A return to the basics has helped Cross Bros. Co. Inc. to prosper.
One of Rochester's oldest manufacturers has reaffirmed its commitment to customer service through all phases of its business, its leader said.
"That provides a good flow and leads to more business from returning customers down the road," said Daniel Cavanaugh, president and CEO.
Started by William and Oliver Cross in 1845, Cross Bros. originally was in leather goods, but it evolved into leather belting and power transmission products.
The firm, now in Henrietta, designs, develops, installs and supports integrated automated material-handling systems. It also supplies and services power transmission equipment for original equipment manufacturers and after-market applications.
Members of the founding family remain in the business. Robert Frost, the sixth generation of the Cross family, serves in a leadership role.
The company's markets include food manufacturers, medical device companies and automotive firms. Most are in the Northeast, particularly New York and Pennsylvania, but customers extend down to Florida. Cross Bros. also sells products to the public and has an online store.
Local customers include Berry Plastics Corp., Eastman Kodak Co. and Wegmans Food Markets Inc.
Cavanaugh said the firm's recent growth has occurred because of factors such as its customer service efforts. Those factors include work done by Cross employees and through strategic staffing, where the focus is on growth areas.
That includes hiring qualified candidates for certain disciplines such as robotic controlled engineering and employees with strong backgrounds in the food industry.
One of the company's biggest challenges is finding qualified local employees.
Cavanaugh has served as the company leader since November 2011, after working as a sales manager and senior project manager for the firm for roughly a year and a half. Prior to that, he had a working relationship for nearly 20 years with Cross as a supplier.
The company's diversified customer base helps shield it from being too dependent on one large customer or industry, the company said. Today, the majority of its markets are performing well.
"Things are looking good on all levels," Cavanaugh said.
The growth efforts and favorable markets are boosting Cross Bros.
Cross Bros. has increased its employment to 28 people, up from 22 last year. The majority of staffers are based locally, but a few are scattered throughout the Northeast in sales and support roles.
Cavanaugh anticipates adding a few more in 2014, in positions such as applications, sales, engineering and administration.
The company's sales are up, too. Cavanaugh declined to disclose sales for the privately held firm but said they increased 58 percent from 2011 to 2012. He said he expects further growth this year of roughly 5 percent.
New product development and keeping up with the latest technologies will continue to help Cross Bros. grow, he said. For example, the firm uses 3-D modeling, animation and simulation technology.
Dan Dwyer, an executive at AFI Cybernetics Corp. in Elmira, Chemung County, has worked with Cross Bros. since 2002, originally when he was at Corning Inc. and Cross Bros. was a supplier. Today, Dwy-er's firm is a supplier for Cross Bros. AFI Cybernetics designs, develops, assembles and services industrial control systems.
Dwyer said Cross Bros. excels at providing high-quality work and customer support. At Corning, for example, Cross Bros. helped set the standards Corning had for other suppliers.
"They are very personable, yet professional," Dwyer said.
The Rochester Top 100 program is presented by the Rochester Business Alliance Inc. and KPMG LLP. Launched in 1987, it recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Greater Rochester. This year's Rochester Top 100 event will be held Nov. 6. For more information, go to rochesterbusinessalliance.com.
Cross Bros. Co. Inc.
Designs, develops, installs and supports integrated automated material-handling systems.
2013 ranking: 45
Top executive: Daniel Cavanaugh, president and CEO
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