Arcadia wows GE unit; big contract in reach

Arcadia Precision Waterjet Cutting & Metal Supply is fighting a Pennsylvania company to win a lucrative account with General Electric Polymershapes.

This contract could become one of Arcadia's top accounts. The Albany-based metal and glass-cutting company's two largest contracts--the Watervliet Arsenal and Intermagnetics General Corp.--are each worth around $1 million.

"If we get the deal [with GE], it's very, very large," said John Abrams, vice president of Arcadia.

To beat out the competition, Abrams has a secret weapon in operations manager Sean Rigney.

At 27, Rigney is among the youngest of Arcadia's 39 employees.

His glass-cutting work could give Arcadia an advantage over Pennsylvania-based Hydrojet Services Inc.

At the beginning of October, just three weeks before getting married, Rigney successfully cut a 250-pound piece of bulletproof glass for GE.

The 3-inch thick glass can be used in helicopters, armored vehicles and buildings.

Dan Polto, fabrication manager for GE Polymershapes in Allentown, Pa., liked Rigney's work. A former waterjet machine operator, Polto said he can recognize a quality job.

"I've been doing this for 10 years; so when I look at something like that, I don't just know it looks good, I know why it looks good--it's the operator," he said. "Both Arcadia and Hydrojet do good work, but Arcadia's quality seems to be better. These guys put an edge [on the glass] that was beautiful."

Size also distinguishes Arcadia from Hydrojet. Arcadia has more than twice the employees and machines.

But Hydrojet has a home-field advantage.

Polto said one benefit to working with Hydrojet is proximity. He can throw a project in his car and drop it off at the company on his way home from work.

Arcadia said it would consider building a satellite plant near the GE location in Allentown if the company wins the account.

Deciding the winner may come down to pricing, but Arcadia's quality could beat out Hydrojet's proximity to GE Polymershapes.

Rigney, who started working at Arcadia five years ago, attributes his work to luck and a good team of machinists.

"It's not just me that cuts the glass," he said. "Everybody here is capable. It's just my job to do those difficult things."

Though the Shenendehowa High School graduate downplayed his role, he helped introduce Arcadia's glass-cutting abilities to new markets when he cut curved laminated glass kiosks for the Time Warner Building in New York City earlier this year.

Rigney, who has an industrial technology degree from Hudson Valley Community College, helped market Arcadia's glass work to the architectural industry with that project.

Arcadia hired Rigney when it bought out LMH Creations, a three-man waterjet cutting shop that once operated next door to Arcadia's offices on North Pearl Street. Rigney was one of the three employees, working for a professor he took classes from at HVCC.

A self-described "hands-on guy," Rigney learned glass handling techniques by watching others, questioning other glass companies and exercising basic patience.

He said his glass-cutting methods made the GE test cuts successful.

"There are different approaches you take so it doesn't crack beforehand," he said. "There's a technique for how you lift it, how you put it on the table."

Arcadia's engineers will meet with GE officials this month. A decision could be reached within the next six months.

If Arcadia wins the account, it would provide GE with applications for glass that it could not accomplish before, Abrams said.

Though his company is still competing hard with Hydrojet, Rigney feels like he has already won.

"That piece of glass was 250 pounds," he said. "And we got it on the first shot."

600450 Arcadia wows GE unit; big contract in reach
Date: 7 December 2004
Source: Msnbc

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