A Conversation with … Rick Delawder, President, SWD Inc.
Rick Delawder is the president of SWD Inc., a family-owned metal finishing, coating, fastener-sorting and packaging company in Addison, Ill. He joined SWD in 1992 as a process engineer after five years at Texas Instruments in Dallas. He has a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Southern Illinois University and is currently president of the board for the National Association for Surface Finishing (NASF). He also is a director and past president of the Chicago Metal Finishers Institute and a director on the board of the Illinois Manufacturers Association. We caught up with Rick after the successful SUR/FIN show in his hometown.
PF: What are some of your goals for the next year as the leader of the NASF?
RD: I see an association that continues to make solid progress. Financially, we have really moved from a swift descent a few years ago, through an aggressive turnaround phase to stability. We improved our operations and our value proposition in several ways, and that has led us to a second key area of success in memberships. On the industry promotion front, Tony Revier and Mike Kuntz get a great deal of credit for focusing on how we promote ourselves as an industry—to our customers in the value chain, to the public and to our lawmakers and regulators. I look forward to leading a strong strategic planning effort for the association. As we’ve moved from the brink of insolvency a few short years ago, we have a great opportunity to look at where we want to take the organization for the long term, and better plan and prioritize for the future.
PF: You launched an expansion project at SWD in mid-2012. How is that going, and how will it help your business?
RD: The 60,000 sq ft addition is complete and running. We needed additional capacity and more room. We anticipate the markets we serve will continue to grow. We’re staunch believers in American manufacturing.
PF: SWD has always been a company that met and exceeded environmental rules and regulations. How hard is it to manage that goal these days?
RD: We rely on NASF and other trade and industry organizations to help us attempt to understand what the future regulatory landscape looks like. It would be virtually impossible for our company to keep up with all the requirements and hurdles that we need to navigate through on our own. The NASF gives us a voice and our industry a seat at the table. Another resource we use is our environmental management system, which is ISO 14001-certified and helps us continue to focus on our environmental impacts and aspects, as well as look forward to sustainability and our future. It’s all about continuous improvement.
PF: Your father was a teacher before getting involved in finishing. Did you always want to go into the business, or did you initially have other aspirations?
RD: I enjoyed working in another career at Texas Instruments in Dallas prior to joining SWD. I am blessed to have the opportunity to join SWD and have been fortunate to make many friends along the way.
PF: Your brother Matt is heavily involved with the fastener trade group and you with the finishing side. How do you both juggle your business, association and family duties effectively?
RD: It is a true balancing act. My wife and kids are very supportive of my career, and we have a great team supporting us at work, too, including another brother, Tim. I think we all recognize the value of our trade associations, and I have to credit my dad for guiding us down the path of being involved. It’s imperative to “give back” to the communities we participate in.
PF: Professionally or personally, what is the best piece of advice you’ve been given, who gave it and why?
RD: There are two: “Attitude is everything” and “Life is short.” I don’t know whose advice it is; but I try to remember it as I go.
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