The Green Industry has not been immune to the supply chain concerns and many landscapers have been concerned about the availability of equipment headed into 2022. But thanks to a long-time focus on vertical integration, ECHO Incorporated has been able to weather some of that storm. In fact, as the company embarks on its 50th anniversary in 2022, it is apt timing that they recently announced the purchase of an additional 103,000 square foot warehouse and a 20-acre campus in Lake Zurich, Illinois.
According to Ryan Ladley, Echo's vice president of operations, production has been increasingly focused on vertical integration to help lower costs, be more flexible, and quickly respond to rising product demand.
“The more that we are able to bring in-house, the better we are able to respond to the market,” he says. “Rather than having to wait for a six-week shipment from overseas or even a one-week shipment domestically, we can respond in a matter of days. We think that’s critical when it comes to getting our product to dealers and supporting our customers as best as we can.”
While the timing is optimal with the current supply chain issues, Ladley is quick to point out that this isn’t something new Echo is doing. The focus has always been on vertical integration and proactive measures to best support the end-user.
“We are investing in property to support our growth—not just now but for the future, too,” he says. “We have always been focused on being proactive so that we are never caught by surprise. We are doing what we can to alleviate bottlenecks and ensure we can get product to customers quickly.”
While there’s no question that bringing more work in-house is preventing product shortages, it’s also had a positive impact on quality control.
“We can only control what goes on within our four walls here—so the more we bring here, the more control we have,” Ladley explains. “This is another way we are making sure that we are truly providing customers with the best.”
Ladley says that Echo has expanded in-house injection molding capability and capacity. They have also vertically integrated with assembly automation. This includes the company's ongoing efforts to automate to improve the safety, quality, and efficiency of the overall operation.
"These steps that we are taking help us to take control of our own destiny," he says. "Many of these efforts started 12 years ago and we are now seeing them pay off with the current situation. But we are always looking at ways that we can improve and that will help us until the future, too."
Growth for the Echo team
Ladley says that much of the effort has also been focused on building the best team. After all, it's the team of folks behind the Echo products that help the company see success.
"The only thing that gets me as excited as the amazing products that we make is the people that we have here," he continues. "We have always been focused on promoting from within and that has helped us to vertically integrate as well. As we add more robotics and automation into production, we are paving the way for our people to learn new skills. We are creating new roles and new opportunities and that's exciting now and for the future, too."