Asia leads, followed by South America and Europe – Eastern Europe in particular. These markets are not new to Globe, but the emphasis is. "We’re looking offshore for projects in any part of the world. American industry has to look beyond its borders," the sales chief said. Speaking of international trade, he commented: "The dollar has been weak against the euro before. The last time Europe was weak (economically), but now it’s in better shape". He told WBPI, "We have several typical smaller projects for North America, but the bulk is offshore. For the last two years the offshore share has been 30%. An example is two new lines for Arauco in Chile". Globe makes a point of attending Ligna in Germany, and other international equipment shows, to broaden its market. The firm has a new leader in Weyerhaeuser veteran Brian Haun, who joined the company last January. Globe uses existing technologies and develops new technologies to bring to the market. The engineers can work alone, or have exclusive joint development agreements with customers. Equipment to produce custom I-joist beams is one of the interesting Globe lines. And since 2000 it has worked with equipment for the pulp and paper industry in addition to its principal work for panel producers.
The growing field of robotics is evident in the company’s premises. It uses off-the-shelf units, but is engineering its own for repetitive work. Mr Haun said the instrumentation and controls are very important, commenting: "I was on the other side for many years, as a customer". A recent project was for Louisiana-Pacific at Holton, Maine, where Globe designed and built everything behind the press – trimming, cooling, master stackers and finishing line rip-saws. The company has a new plywood saw where cut sizes can be changed in one minute, compared with complicated changes that might require 25 minutes, according to Mr Tart. One of the problems for all machinery manufacturers is the new US MACT regulations (Maximum Achievable Control Technology), which are demanding multi-million dollar investments to lower emission levels to minuscule figures. At a time when capital for improvement is tight, the companies must spend – with no pay-back. "The market will come back and we’re working on things for that market. We’re optimistic. Although things aren’t good now, they will improve," said Mr Haun.
Mr Tart said Globe is looking for the best way to bring value to its customers. "We make sure we do the job right. We design, build, quality control and test, completely assembled, here on our floor. We have 170,000ft2 of manufacturing space here. We can have a project set up on the shop floor for six weeks. We tested the equipment daily until we knew – and had the customer convinced – that the system would work. "If a company is basically selling and engineering and not manufacturing, they give up that hands-on link," said Mr Tart. The firm employs 170 and 120 of these work in the fabrication, assembly and machine shop. It recently installed a new end mill with 32 feet of horizontal travel and 12 feet of vertical travel. Seven people work in Globe’s own controls department, while more than 15% of employees work on machine development and design full-time.
Many American firms use overseas manufacture to some extent. "We’ve looked at it and we’ve done it with several projects with different levels of success," said Mr Tart. "We hold partners to our quality standards and those are not always the same as their local standards. "We don’t want to short-change our customers by lowering costs through overseas manufacturing." Globe’s offshore shipments go by container through the port of Tacoma, while North American shipments are all trucked. There are no facilities to direct-load to rail. The growth of the OSB industry gave Globe a big nudge. Wood I-joists, moulded doorskins, fibre cement, LVL are all growth opportunities. Sister companies Globe International and Burelback Industries complement each other. Globe began by designing and manufacturing machinery for plywood and door production and then expanded into particleboard, MDF, and waferboard as those industries developed. Finishing line equipment is now their speciality.