Press Automotive Editor
With its traditional automotive business under pressure, Jervis B. Webb Co. is taking on more business by designing and installing new baggage screening systems at airports around the country.
Even before the latest terrorism scare made the screening of baggage an even larger concern, the privately held company had signed contracts for new baggage handling conveyor systems for airports in Jacksonville and Orlando, Fla.
"Our reputation for getting the job done right and on time, along with our experience in designing and installing in-line baggage screening conveyor systems, made Webb a top choice for airports around the world that are looking to upgrade or expand their systems," said Kenneth Hamel, Webb's vice president of airport systems.
The two contracts are worth $19 million and, so far this year, Webb Airport Systems has lined up seven new projects worth more than $55 million. In all, the company's baggage handling systems are used at more than 50 airports around the world.
In both Orlando and Jacksonville, Webb will install new conveyors, electrical controls and baggage handling computer systems capable of extensive monitoring and reporting.
The new systems will be implemented in phases to minimize disruption to airport operations and, once completed, will allow Transportation Security Agency personnel to screen checked baggage more efficiently than older systems, Hamel said.
The Webb company's efforts to diversify into baggage handling have helped offset the decline in the company's automotive-related business, which has been essentially flat in recent years.
Founded in 1919, Webb has supplied conveyors, automated guided vehicles and other material handling systems.
However, the company's business has evolved to the point where only about 40 percent of its revenue comes from the automotive sector. The airport segment now accounts for about 40 percent of the company's business, and the balance comes from providing specially built material handling equipment for a variety of fields.
Webb has been considered one of the leaders in material handling solutions ever since company founder Jervis B. Webb invented the forged rivetless chain conveyor that helped bolster the mass production systems pioneered by the Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp. and other automakers.
The company's headquarters and technical center is in Farmington Hills, but the company also has manufacturing plants in Harbor Springs and Boyne City, as well as Carlisle, S.C. It also operates plants in Canada, India and China.