Southeast: Central Moloney Thrives Through Flexibility

by Jan Cottingham  on Monday, May. 23, 2011 12:00 am  

At some point, AP&L needed transformers and asked Larkin to build them. In the process, Larkin Lectro morphed into Central Transformer Corp., moving to solely manufacturing electric distribution transformers.

The 1960s were a time of great growth for the company as it responded to increasing demand from utility companies. In 1965, Central Transformer acquired Moloney Electric of St. Louis and the company changed its name to Central Moloney Transformer Corp. The company was now among the top five makers of transformers in the U.S.

More change came when Colt Industries bought Central Transformer in 1968. Colt eventually became Coltec Industries with Central Moloney Transformer Division serving as one of Coltec's several subsidiaries.

In 1970, Central Moloney expanded into the manufacturing of components for transformers - bushings, switches, wildlife guards, etc. - and created Central Moloney Components Operation.

Company leader Bo Siever, a mechanical engineer, started at the company in 1969, conducting research and development for products that came to be manufactured by the Components Operation.

In late 1993, Siever was among a group of top managers and other investors who sought to buy Central Moloney from Coltec. Their offer was accepted, and in 1994 the privately owned, Arkansas-based company acquired the name it bears today: Central Moloney Inc.

Finally, in 1998, the company converted to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, or ESOP, corporation. The Central Moloney Inc. Salaried Employee Stock Ownership Plan & Trust owns all the company's stock. "Talk about creating initiative in employees - when they own a slice of [the company], it helps motivate," Hart said.

Central Moloney's annual payroll exceeds $30 million, Hart said, and "we spend an additional $8 million here within Jefferson County with suppliers, vendors." The company seeks to meet two needs, Hart said. The first is to be good stewards of the community; the second is to ensure that the shareholders' investment is rewarded.

Most of the hourly employees are members of Local 1658 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which has had a presence at the company since 1958. Hart said the average hourly wage of a Central Moloney worker exceeds $17. In addition, the company offers noncontributory pension plans and short-term disability and life insurance policies.

"Those bargaining-unit employees have their defined pension plan, and the rest of us are the ESOP members whose fortunes rest upon the success of the company," Hart said.

Central Moloney, by both working to grow its market share in lines other than residential and in betting on the future, appears to have found renewed success.

Hart said, "We are putting our money where our mouth is and saying that [the economy] will come back, and we know it will. And when it does, we want to be ready."




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