Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016 - 72


Burke Porter Machinery
www.bepco.com / HQ: Grand Rapids, Mich. / Employees: 600 / Specialty: Automotive testing
systems and intelligent machines / David DeBoer, CEO: "The authority to act is quite regionalized."

with 24 locations in 11 countries,
burke porter strives to be available
whenever a customer needs it.

A Call to Grow

new ownership is helping burke porter
machinery expand its business. by tim o'connor
When manufacturers are managing a global footprint, they must take
care not to lose sight of what local customers need. That flexibility is what
sets Burke Porter Machinery apart from
other makers of intelligent machines
and testing systems, CEO David DeBoer says. "We build what the customers
want," he says. "We don't push what we
want to build."
With 24 locations in 11 countries and
a customer base that spans the globe,
Burke Porter understands it needs to be
available whenever the customer comes
calling. The company makes an effort to
have 24-hour support wherever possible because a single downed machine
can halt production at an entire factory.
"Our goal is to be able to respond within
72

manufacturing-today.com MARCH/APRIL 2016

20 minutes on the phone and 24 hours
in person," DeBoer explains. "Our attitude is to leave our cell phones on at our
nightstands when sleeping."
Burke Porter's customer-oriented
approach has been a part of the company since its founding in 1953. It was
family owned and operated for more
than six decades before being sold to a
Chinese investment financial services
company, China Everbright Ltd., in
2015. Today, Burke Porter employs 600
people directly and subcontracts another 90 workers. DeBoer says it also
has more than 130 people who handle
sales and servicing in the field through
other agencies that Burke Porter founded but does not own.
Automotive OEMs such as Volkswa-

Midwest

gen, Audi, Fiat Chrysler and Ford Motor
Co. make up Burke Porter's largest customer base. It also provides equipment
to Tier I suppliers such as American
Axle, a manufacturer of drivetrain components and systems.
Burke Porter's capabilities go beyond
the automotive industry, however. The
company also supplies machines to agriculture equipment makers, the aerospace industry and Argonne National
Laboratory. "We're one of the leading
suppliers in niche markets," DeBoer
explains. "We expand when the market
expands."
More than half of the company's sales
comes from its four end-of-line testing machine types: Wheel alignment
stations, headlight aiming calibration,
adaptive cruise control and roll testing.
Its laboratory products include chassis
dynamometers to gauge horsepower
and emissions. Smaller segments of
Burke Porter's business include noise,
vibration and harshness (NVH) testing; manufacturing of small-volume,
high-performance parts such as engine
components and superchargers; industrial balancing; and specialty machines
for wind turbine gearbox testing, waste
energy reclamation and aerospace
brake testing.

Global Footprint
Burke Porter's global aspirations began
in 1988 when the Michigan-based company started shipping to South Korea . It
acquired a factory in Europe in 1997 and
opened a factory in China in 2004. More
recently, Burke Porter has moved heavily into the United Kingdom through acquisitions in 2010 and 2014, and Poland
by buying out a local company last year.
The company's four North American
locations are all in Michigan - and its
headquarters is in Grand Rapids - but
Burke Porter now operates facilities in
the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germa-


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016

Contents
Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016 - Cover1
Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016 - Cover2
Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016 - 1
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