Burr Ridge company eyes growth spurt
Craig Zoberis is the founder and president of Fusion OEM, a low-volume contract manufacturer for industrial clients. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Employees: 75 in 2015, compared to 48 now
Gross: $14 million annually, compared to $8 million now
Annual growth rate: 20 percent
2009 ranking by Inc. Magazine: Number 363 of 500 fastest growing private companies
Updated: December 24, 2012 1:15AM
BURR RIDGE — Craig Zoberis can’t stop thinking about New Year’s Eve 2015.
It is not that he has the party of all parties planned or that he is a sucker for “Auld Lang Syne.” It is that, if things go according to plans, at the end of 2015, he will be overseeing a bigger and more dynamic company than he already does.
Six giant dry erase boards line the walls of Zoberis’ office at Fusion Systems in Burr Ridge. The 4-by-8 foot boards, mounted vertically, portray a company that in three years has grown its business by 60 percent.
His business, which provides machine and design shop services as well as engineering work, started in his Hinsdale garage. In 10 years, it has grown to do $8 million in business.
“You will find a machine shop and a design shop and an engineering company, but you are not going to find all three under one roof,” Zoberis said, touting his firm. “With us, you can deal with one shop for all your special needs.”
A 20 percent annual growth rate in this economy seems like a tall order. However, when you consider that Fusion had a 691 percent growth spurt from 2006-09, it may be more like child’s play for a company that has becoming an outsourcing home for companies such as ITW and Federal Signal.
Zoberis said the sluggish economy has paid dividends.
“Our clients are risk-adverse, but they still need products and new services,” Zoberis said. “By using us, they do not have to invest in equipment or more people.”
Zoberis said the three-year plan can be daunting for some employees. If they don’t see the effort being worth the end result, it is better for them to see it now and not when the work is in midstream.
“If you are not getting on the bus, then it is probably best that you don’t get on the bus,” Zoberis said as kindly as a business owner can. “There may be people who have been here five or six years who are not going to help us get to the next level.”
The driven entrepreneur said he can’t remember the last fiction book he picked up, noting his reading continues to be business self-help volumes.
The married, father of four said he looks forward to being 10 or 15 years down the road when he envisions the business being more stable, he is not putting in 55- to 60-hour weeks, and he is less stressed.
Zoberis, who has both engineering and business degrees, said Fusion spends so much time inventing products and techniques for clients there is no time for its own creations.
“We’re so busy creating the recipes and trying to perfect things for our regular customers,” Zoberis said. “It would be nice to have something of our own.”
Maybe in 2016.