By Eric Peterson | Jul 30, 2015
Salt Lake City, Utah
Bird Mitigation Systems for Buildings and Towers
Salt Lake City
Kaddas Enterprises was born "in the kitchen oven of my in-laws in 1966," says Natalie.
Her father-in-law, John Kaddas, was trying to make lightweight parts for Boeing aircraft lavatories. "He started researching how to vacuum-form parts to replace stainless steel," she explains.
He went from lavatories to overhead bins, equipment housing, and other airplane components. After he applied the same weight-reducing techniques to parts for trains and buses, the company moved in a completely different direction, spurred by a show on PBS.
"In the early 1990s, my father-in-law was watching a Nova special about bald eagles and their endangerment," says Natalie. "A large part of their mortality was due to power lines." Subsequently, he spearheaded the company's BirdguarD product line to keep birds and high voltage safely apart.
Two decades later, Kaddas Enterprises' 200-product BirdguarD catalog encompasses anti-nest and -roost devices, substation covers, and pole caps. "It's the lion's share of our business," Natalie says. And it's not just about birds: It keeps squirrels, iguanas, and even snakes safe as they climb and slither up utility poles. "What started as a bird issue has grown into an animal issue," she explains.
The end result is a "triple win," she adds. A full 25 percent of all electrical outages in the U.S. are caused by animals, so it's a win for both power companies and consumers as well as the animals.
Kaddas makes all of its molds in-house and has worked to improve productivity with Lean processes in recent years. The company's mold-making expertise "is unique from a thermoforming perspective," says Natalie. " We have the talent and we are able to create efficiencies within our equipment."
And there's runway for an uptick in production, as the ISO-certified company is currently running four 10-hour shifts a week. "We have excess capacity with our equipment," says Natalie. "What we're juggling is real estate."
Natalie joined her husband, Director of Operations Jay Kaddas, with the company in 2008. First-generation founders John and Carol have retired. "It's now transitioned to the second generation," says Natalie.
Challenges: "Finding the right people," says Natalie. "Engineering is what we're hiring. It's definitely hard to compete with L-3 or ATK." Quality of life is Kaddas' selling point. "I can't compete dollars to dollars."
Opportunities: For BirdguarD, "International is booming," says Natalie, and Kaddas is targeting 1,100 percent growth in exports for 2015. After moving beyond the U.S. with distribution and certification in 2013, Kaddas ships to Australia, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East. "We're finding a big need with the utilities," says Natalie. "A lot of it is educating people about the triple win."
Transportation is now a secondary market for Kaddas, but Natalie says there's a big push there. "Our goal is to grow our distribution network," she says, and looks to grow internationally in aerospace as well.
Needs: More room, says Natalie. The company is maxed out in its 16,000-square-foot space and is looking to relocate in 2016. "Our expansion plans include a 50,000-square-foot-building," she says. "We're going to need a new piece of land."