Congressman Ryan said the Mahoning Valley needs to think like a winner.
By DON SHILLING
VINDICATOR BUSINESS EDITOR
LIBERTY -- Every business owner should have the problem that Rex Cyrus has.
The owner of Control System Manufacturing in New Middletown is worried that his company could grow too fast.
The maker of automation equipment was honored Thursday for its growth in the past year by the Regional Chamber, but the expansion is making Cyrus wary.
The company's full- and part-time work force has grown from 23 to 55 in the past year. Much more growth would create too many overhead expenses in administration, Cyrus said.
Now, everyone at the company is involved in producing automation equipment except him and his wife, Cindy, the company controller.
The recent growth has come from the electronics package that the company has developed for cranes that lift cargo containers off ships. Control System has placed this equipment in cranes in the Southeast as well as Jamaica.
In fact, little of what the company makes is sold in the Mahoning Valley. It also produces the brains that help steel mills and power plants run.
Cyrus founded the company three years ago after managing operations for other makers of automation equipment. The company will have about 5 million in sales this year.
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan said in the keynote address that the business leaders at the awards ceremony are the ones that will bring innovation to the economy and lead the Mahoning Valley to success in the information age.
"They're going to ask where the best practices are, and they are going to say, 'Youngstown,' said Ryan, of Niles, D-17th, at the Holiday Inn MetroPlex.
It was the 15th year that the chamber has passed out its Mahoning Valley Growth Awards. Control System received the Pinnacle Award for most growth in employees among companies with fewer than 100 workers.
The winner for larger companies was Casal's de Spa & amp; Salon, which started with six employees in 1994 and now has more than 200. Casal's operates three area spas and a training academy, plus it is opening a location in Las Vegas.
Casal's also won the Pinnacle Award for largest increase in sales among larger companies. The winner for companies with fewer than 100 employees was Jet Stream International of Niles, which makes and distributes products used in the plumbing, electrical, fire protection and mechanical construction markets.
Ryan suggested to the business leaders that their example will help the Mahoning Valley change its image of itself as it rebounds from economic and political struggles.
"We have two choices. We either act like victims, or we act like winners," he said.
Ryan added that the Valley flourished throughout most of the 20th century because it "figured out the industrial economy. We'll figure out the information economy as well."
For the country as a whole, it is time to move past the bureaucratic programs that were created during the industrial age. The nation's leaders need to come together, move beyond past differences and figure out how to foster innovation and improve education, he said.
One suggestion Ryan made was to lengthen the school year. He compared the 180 days of school in this country with the 220 in Korea.
"Our children going to school for 180 days puts us at a competitive disadvantage," he said.