senior vice president and COO,
Jervis B. Webb Co.
As Farmington Hills-based Jervis B. Webb Co. expands and
changes its strategy, new senior vice president and COO Brian Stewart will
oversee the process.
Stewart, who is in charge of engineering, sales and
marketing, purchasing, manufacturing, information services and project
management for the Webb group of companies, wants to tap Webb’s
international joint ventures in India and
those business units, Stewart said Webb can grow business in the
States, decrease costs and
The joint ventures were started 15 years
are your expansion plans?
A.: We will expand
globally, particularly in the Chinese and Asian markets. In the
future, perhaps even South
America will make a comeback. Webb also has two new,
very exciting projects: Smart Loader and Smart Cart. Our
Smart Loader product can pull product from a production line (or) storage
–just about anywhere-and automatically loads trucks. It can
even run in the dark. This product will be introduced at the NA
06 materials handling and logistics show and conference (in
Q.: What are some of the challenges
you anticipate with this expansion? How will you overcome
A.: I believe our
biggest challenge is to keep our employees excited. Our employees are
the ones who continue to develop new products, create new ideas and new ways of
moving materials that increase reliability and decrease costs for our
In 2005, we launched a lean manufacturing and lean office
program. The goal is to make jobs easier and increase communication throughout
the company. Everyone knows the company’s goals, and there
are frequent team meetings where we map out where we are now and then map out a
goal of where we want to be in the next few weeks. This works well and
the employee involvement keeps up the excitement and challenges us all to
has been your most rewarding career experience?
A.: Fifteen years ago,
I was involved in the development of Webb of India. At that time, it
was a three-man operation. Now it is a premier handling supplier and
100 engineers work at that location. Because of the successes of our
operations, Webb has become more competitive in the U.S. Today,
Webb is utilizing the seeds planted in India and China in
the past to grow its operations.
Q.: How has the economy affected your
business locally, nationally and globally?
A.: We saw the
downward trend in the economy about three years ago and addressed the issue
then. We, like most everyone else, had to downsize and lay off
workers. However, we asked ourselves “How can we use this as
an opportunity? How do we change our company for the better?” I
believe that Webb is now ahead of the game and is hiring and growing its
business on all fronts –locally, nationally, and globally.