For advanced manufacturing and machining giant Petersen Inc., putting ideas into action is the way to success.
As Eric Clapton once wrote, “It’s in the way that you use it.” The elusive “it,” of course, is opportunity, and the way Petersen Inc. uses “it” is refreshing, life affirming, and wildly successful. The Ogden, Utah-based company offers leading edge fabrication, advanced manufacturing and machining services across a wide swath of industries, from nuclear and mining to aerospace, defense, and entertainment. Regarded as a standard bearer in precision and quality, the company thrives on its staple of high-profile repeat customers while keeping its sights trained on new possibilities.
Established in 1961, the family owned company flourished and experienced significant growth in revenue, headcount, and the typical complications that come with consistent growth. Rather than selling the debt-free operation to new owners, Steve Petersen, one of the founders of Petersen Inc., established an employee stock ownership plan, which added a new dimension of dedication and creativity throughout the organization.
“Our purpose is to improve the lives of our customers, community, and our employee owners and their families,” said company CEO Mark Jenkins. Petersen Inc.’s evolving culture of continuous improvement sets a standard for excellence across the board.
“We are a family and as such we trust and help each other. We are focused on helping our teams gain additional skills so they can advance in the company and their careers. This also increases the agility of the company to manage through the different variables of our projects. Our focus on our team members’ success ensures that we have team members dedicated to giving the best products and service to our customers which results in long term stability for our employees and their families.”
He added, “We want our employees’ minds and creativity in addition to their hard work. Every company has man, material, and machines as resources. What sets companies apart is the method used to manage and execute using those resources.”
This notice is prominently displayed in HQ: “The Petersen Way: We must develop a culture where change is expected, embraced, and rewarded and complacency and casualness are vigorously attacked.” That bracing cultural statement reflects the energy the Petersen Inc. team brings to every project, every day!
As Jenkins put it, “It starts with building and developing a leadership team with the right attitude that is willing to take risks. A team that has more of a focus on ideas that will make things work versus reasons why plans won’t work. A team that knows how to collaborate. My job as the CEO is not to make every decision, but to do my best to make sure the right decision is made. This requires a culture where collaboration is expected and welcomed. A safe culture to speak your mind. A team that is willing to change and be creative in unique situations like we are dealing with right now. Jenkins takes pride in his leadership team’s ability to work together in order to make the “right decision.”
“That leads to building a strategic plan that provides a roadmap for success. Now more than ever is the time to have a well thought out and proven strategic plan. Even though we did not forecast or plan for a worldwide pandemic, we have remained focused on our written plan as we have done in previous years with a great deal of success,” said Rob Despain, VP of Business Development.
Embedded in the Petersen Way is the Petersen Operating Way, or POW. “We know that it is through the innovative and creative capacity of all our 600 employee owners that we will be successful. The POW gives structure and a method to ensure that our team members have visibility and systems to engage in improvement,” said Bryan Crowell, Chief Operating Officer at Petersen Inc.
Integration & Ingenuity
“Our longtime philosophy has been that all our vertical markets would not be robust or flat at the same time. The key to our success is the diversification of industries we serve,” Despain said. “We are willing, within reason, to look at any project that has the ability to grow the top and bottom lines and help grow the company.”
Jenkins admits that the company isn’t all things to all potential customers, despite fabricating and manufacturing everything from rocket motors to roller coasters. “Over the years we have been fortunate to be able to build some amazing projects,” he said. Projects have included tunnel boring machines, amusement park rides such as Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon at Universal Studios Florida, Stars Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Millennium Falcon ride at both Disneyland and Disney World, nuclear processing equipment, and gargantuan vessels for the oil and gas industry.
One such item measuring 21 feet wide by 300 feet long and weighing over 240,000 pounds shipped overland from Farr West, Utah, to Illinois. “You don’t want to get stuck behind one of these on the freeway,” Jenkins joked. “It’s hard to pick the most exciting project. I walk through our plant every day and I am amazed at some of the products we manufacture. If you were to visit our shop today you might be able to see a roller coaster on the back side of our property.”
Next to safety, quality is a key driver for the company, and it gets pretty granular. “That includes not only the quality of our products but the quality of our paperwork as well,” Jenkins stressed. “In many of our industries the quality of our paperwork is as equally important as the quality of our products. In order to be successful as an organization you must be dedicated to great performance in safety and quality. We have found that with the focus on safety and quality systems the other key outputs for the missions of the work site fall into place like those of delivery and cost.”
Leaders audit quality systems and products every day. With this consistent evaluation of our quality systems we have been able to identify opportunities for improvement proactively, which has resulted in a significant decrease in quality defects. With our quality system focus we have seen significant reduction in customer escapes, paperwork errors, NCRs, and scrap,” said Bryan Crowell.
Fierce capabilities and the latest in technology, processes and systems have set Petersen at the top of the must have list for the clients they serve, but Jenkins, along with his entire leadership team, is clear about the real source of the firm’s power. “The key differentiator for our success and in turn the success of our customers is the creative intellect and dedication of our employee owners to continually improve our organization to ensure the best performance. We have a robust method through the POW to develop and sustain a culture of continuous improvement, and we are ready and able to support any and all our customer needs.
“What is also fascinating about Petersen Inc. is the diversity of the products we build. As employee owners, we are involved in some incredibly fun projects on a daily basis—and we get paid for doing it. We will always pursue manufacturing excellence as a team sport.”
Founded in 1961 and incorporated in Utah in 1980, Petersen Inc. has become one of the foremost manufacturing facilities in the United States, serving customers throughout the world. With large capabilities and tremendous capacity, Petersen Inc. effectively serves industry giants.
What started out in a garage in 1961 is today over 1.3 million square feet of world class manufacturing, specialized fabrication, precision machining, warehouse and distribution facilities in Ogden, Utah, and Pocatello, Idaho. Today we employ over 440 employees and have strong roots in the communities we operate in.
Petersen Inc. has a long reputation of giving back to the local community. We like to call it the "Petersen Way" of doing business—take care of our employees and their families, take care of our customers, and give back to the community that supports us.
Our employees also take great pride in giving back to the communities where we live and work. We know a company is only as good as the people who work for it, and our employees are as good as it gets! Petersen Inc. is making a difference in the lives of our employees, our communities, and our customers.
We take great pride in delivering quality, on-time products to our customers and the industries we serve worldwide. Our customers are our No. 1 priority.
The Petersen Incorporated’s team is dedicated to quality, on-time products and a team approach to complete customer satisfaction. For a safe, reliable and financially secure partner, Petersen Inc. is your source for success in manufacturing, fabrication, machining, inventory management, field services, precision machining, design engineering, warehousing and distribution.
1527 North 2000 West
Ogden, Utah 84404
Telephone (801) 732-2000
Fax (801) 732-2098