Lou Burr, CEO
From its part in turning the tides of WWII to today where technological advancements and new manufacturing material is changing the way nations defend themselves, defense manufacturing has experienced many paradigm-shifting disruptions over the decades. In the current defense space, manufacturing projects have become highly contested endeavors with vendors of all sizes battling it out to win a contract and carve their place in the evolving marketplace. And across all the evolving iterations of defense manufacturing, one company that has always remained in the vanguard of innovation and technical development is Michigan-based Loc Performance. Combining its five-decade industry experience with its expansive portfolio of innovative manufacturing solutions alongside impeccable product development services, the company has climbed up the ranks to become an industry-leader in combat vehicle manufacturing and development.
Founded in 1971, Loc originally entered the defense space producing spare road arm suspensions and housings for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle in the 1980’s, and quickly grew to incorporate more spare components and final drives for several different vehicles in the defense industry. And after decades in the defense vehicle market, Loc won a significant contract in 2014 where the company was tasked with upgrading the suspension, track systems, final drives, and more, for every Bradley Fighting Vehicle utilized by the U.S. Army. This project drove Loc to expand its product lines and make investments in deploying better and more reliable equipment, which further helped the company in fighting for and winning additional contracts against larger industry leaders. “In 2014, we were a USD 40 million company and today, we’re a USD 227 million organization with a proven track record of producing a wide range of vehicle parts and fabricated components for emerging weapons systems,” says Lou Burr, CEO at LOC Performance.
Today, the company offers a comprehensive product development process that mirrors the DOD system engineering process with design reviews and progress checkpoints placed throughout its operations. For the defense space, the company provides full vertical integration, supported by strong supply chain management and a cloud-based ERP, with a specialization in offering best-value vehicle subsystems, and complete rolling chassis capability. Alternatively, Loc acts as a problem-solving partner for commercial manufacturing. In fact, most of the clients approach Loc for its unique ‘vertical integration’ approach to manufacturing, which facilitates the accurate and timely development and delivery of previously hard-to-fabricate components. Backing this unparalleled competency is the company’s customer-centric onboarding methodology that seamlessly assists the company to help its clients understand, manage, and mitigate their most prevalent manufacturing challenges.
In client development engagements, Loc performs a system functional review followed by a critical design assessment, which helps the company gain an in-depth understanding of the inefficiencies in a client’s current product needs.
Chad Darr, CMO
Once this is completed, Loc starts the prototyping and testing processes before choosing the final design that is based on all the lessons learnt during the overall design and development operations. “We ensure the highest quality product manufacturing with our APQP (advanced product quality planning), which is essentially a checklist of questions for the launch team to ask themselves to make sure we're ready to launch products,” adds Burr.
One thing that separates us is our manufacturing roots, which help us produce most of our components in-house and in turn, facilitate a low cost structure and have more control over quality and delivery
At the heart of the company’s success in penetrating multiple markets is its automotive mentality, which is driving Loc to always make products that are robust, efficient, and affordable. “One thing that separates us from our contemporaries is our manufacturing roots, which help us produce most of our components in-house and in turn, facilitate a low cost structure and have more control over quality and delivery,” explains Chad Darr, Chief Marketing Officer at Loc Performance. Lou further elaborates his company’s ability to offer vertical integration by mentioning Loc’s approach to invest in equipment that will aid them in eliminating the need to approach third-party vendors for specific parts.
At the same time, Loc’s transparency with its clients has also assisted the company in developing long-term customer relationships in both defense and commercial sectors alike.
With such unmatched capabilities, Loc has ignited several success stories since its inception. In one instance, the company assisted a large automotive company that developed municipal buses overcome their challenges in manufacturing a robust gearbox for their vehicles. After repeatedly failing to manufacture their desired gearbox, the client approached Loc, who leveraged its in-house manufacturing expertise, comprehensive portfolio of services, and transparent approach to address their gear package to meet the specifications. “Long story short, we fixed their problem and increased their market share, before going on to win a supplier award of excellence from them, which is something that they've only given out one other time in the last 25 years,” states Darr.
Over the years, Loc has helped a plethora of clients overcome their manufacturing hurdles and deliver products with high longevity and performance. This year, Loc is celebrating its 50th anniversary in the industry and plans to continue its growth organically and through acquisitions over the coming years. To conclude, Burr reiterates the ethos of his company, “We will continue adding more capabilities to our existing arsenal and help our clients in solving their manufacturing challenges through transparent and innovative services.”