Madico President Discusses Company’s Latest Investments, Plans for the Future

April 4th, 2018 by Katherine Coig

Madico Inc. has a big year planned ahead, as previewed in several of the company’s announcements. But the manufacturer’s investments also coincided with the appointment of Shawn Kitchell as president in June 2017 following Bob Connelly’s retirement as CEO. Now, almost a year into his current position, Kitchell chatted with Window Film magazine regarding the company’s latest endeavors, including its $30 million investment into a new manufacturing facility, and its renewed focus on its specialty films segment.

Shawn Kitchell.

What led you to the window film industry, and how long have you been in the business?

I’ve been in coating and laminating for about 25 years, and I worked for Avery Dennison before I started in the window film industry. I was intrigued by an opportunity with the company Film Technologies which is what led me here. It’s a different kind of business and has offered different challenges that I haven’t seen in other industries. When I came, I thought I would only be here for a few years, but the window film industry is fairly seductive. You can form relationships and get to know people much more readily, and that really attracted me. I’ve been in the industry for the past 15 years now.

You were announced as Madico’s new president in June 2017 following the retirement of Robert Connelly. Previously, you were the company’s COO and SVP of operations. How have those two roles helped you as president?

I was a part of the Solamatrix team that was acquired by Madico in 2010, and I’ve been with the company ever since.

I think my background was progressively geared toward me taking on this position. As SVP, I was in charge of aspects related to manufacturing, R&D, and so forth. But then Bob Connelly tagged me to be his replacement knowing he was going to retire. That’s when I moved in to the COO role.

My background up to that point included pretty much every facet except sales, marketing and business development. In my move to COO, I was put in charge of new business development, where I worked with our sales and marketing teams to familiarize myself with those aspects. It was a two-year process in moving forward.

Your appointment as president coincided with the news that Madico would cease manufacturing of photovoltaic products in China mid-2017. You had intended to expand the Massachusetts operations in a variety of capacities, including R&D and product development. How have those efforts been going?

To go back in history, Madico was a huge participant in the photovoltaic backsheet movement. Sales were very high, and that’s also around the time when they acquired Solamatrix. But the problem came in 2008 when the world economy turned down. Many governments eliminated their subsidies for solar energy, making those programs less attractive.

In a very short time frame— two years—all of the solar cell factories relocated to Asian countries. The next thing were the components, which started being sourced in China. Prices started to plummet. We stayed in that market for several years thinking that quality and performance would eventually win out over price. Sorry to say it did not. That’s why we decided to exit the business.

When we made that decision, it made sense for us to consolidate our manufacturing in order to be more efficient, better service our customers and also save on costs. We acquired the new facility, which is bigger than both the Woburn, Mass., facility and St. Petersburg, Fla., facility combined.

In the meantime, we’ve transitioned all of our manufacturing to the St. Petersburg site. We’re taking assets from the Woburn facility and adding new equipment to give us new capabilities and enhance our existing ones. Because the new facility is so much larger, we have the opportunity to expand our capabilities. For example, we’re adding different technologies to our existing coating lines, as well as other things, to better service different markets. One of the problems we’ve had in the past is that some of our machines are single-product line focused. We plan to add more capabilities to these to increase product flexibility.

Once we have those in place, we’ll shut down the St. Petersburg facility and transition into the new site. But that will take all of 2018 and into 2019. The Woburn facility will remain open and be used as a sales office.

Piggybacking off of that, I assume you’ve set a trajectory for growth. Can you tell us about the company’s plan?

A lesson that we learned from the photovoltaic experience is not to put all of our eggs in one basket. Although window film, which now handles automotive, architectural, solar control, safety and security decorative film and PPF, will continue to be a key segment for us, we want to diversify and grow into other areas as well.

We’re putting a renewed focus on the specialty films area, which is divided into five markets: health care, aerospace, building materials, transportation and information display. Each are exciting, but, the building materials market has a lot of promise for us going into the future.

Our third division includes our diversified business—businesses we’ve acquired or developed that don’t fit into our window film, coated-product model, such as ProtectionPro, an on-demand screen protector for cell phones and tablets.

When we look at this year and what we’re trying to do and how are we going to grow, the answer goes back to the fundamental philosophy: You grow an organization one relationship at a time.

How do we make the customer more successful? Improve business? Be more profitable? We’re examining every touch-point with the customer to make it easier for them to deal with us. That’s what this year’s all about. Creating a program that works for all of those aforementioned segments is really important for us; we’re investing heavily in this.

And, as we build, we want to hold onto our reputation for doing business ethically.

It’s no secret Madico has big plans for 2018. Can you preview any of those changes?

I think visually, customers are going to see a lot of change.

They’ll see a different logo and look going forward. We’re going to eliminate the nine squares, signifying that we’re more than just a window film company.

It’s a very, very exciting year for Madico. We’re off to a great start in 2018, and we’ll be more than 10-percent ahead of our plan in the first quarter end, and we’ll see more momentum build throughout the year. I’m very happy to be here.

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  1. Dear Mr Kitchell,

  2. Dear Mr. Kitchell

    My name is Dr Leo Garcia.

    Recently, I mailed you an information package introducing myself as a founder of MADICO and a booklet report about the Company (MADICO , the First 20 years) our activities all those years to become a leader in the window film business. I also mentioned my plan of writing a follow-up booklet report MADICO, the Second 20 years) containing a collection of R&D / product development ideas I have accumulated as a consultant for LINTEC for many years. I a m currently trying to finish this booklet report writing, suspended this time consuming preparation until I hear from you.

    Thanks

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