Climbing to the top with InCord

A journey inside of North America’s largest custom netting fabricator

 by Lisa Barry Senior Editor



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     Some manufacturing companies are in the business of creating something that is extremely necessary, yet remains strangely unnoticed by most people in the world. InCord is one of those companies. For more than 20 years, InCord, headquartered in Colchester, Connecticut has been manufacturing top of the line custom safety nets. Their products are found on construction sites, in distribution centers, parks and playgrounds, amusement parks and theaters, just to name a few. Family owned and operated, InCord has found a tried and true business formula that has kept them evolving and innovating throughout their entire existence. If you entered InCord’s manufacturing facility today, you would notice most of their nets are still made by hand, with the most important tools being hand tools. Yet they are still able to turn out larger projects faster than their competitors while still maintaining the highest quality.

Innovative Thinking Results in Revolutionary Products

        With seven divisions InCord provides a wide variety of solutions to a very diverse customer base for virtually any application. The majority of InCord’s nets serve to keep people safe. Whether that is through debris containment or fall protection, their nets can be life-saving. “The biggest single job we have had to date was wrapping a mile and a half long bridge with netting, because concrete was falling off and hitting cars below,” said Dan Ritz, President and General Manager. You will also find InCord nets serving many other purposes. They are used as props in plays, as climbing elements on playground equipment, and even as aesthetic pieces in theme park attractions – like the nets on a pirate ship. “What we do, and the possibilities of our products are being recognized more and more as an alternative to other materials that are not as productive or advantageous as they once were,” said Russ Nieman, Senior Marketing Strategist.
      One example of a revolutionary netting solution is a product InCord created called “SkyNet” – an alternative to traditional scaffolding. SkyNet provides a safe, stable, and durable walking and working surface. It is particularly beneficial when working at great heights and in locations where traditional scaffolding is not practical. A perfect example would be the construction of the dome in a football stadium. You can suspend “SkyNet” right under the dome where there’s nothing else under you. 100’s of feet in the air. Workers can walk on the netting and it provides them a safe and secure working environment that is quickly and easily deployed while being very cost effective.
        One of InCord’s most active divisions is their material handling division. The company offers a variety of solutions for every conceivable application. “Rack Guard” is a safety netting system for pallet racks which are widely used in retail and industrial applications. It is used to protect stock from falling and can easily be installed on the front, sides, and in between as a divider and the rear of any pallet rack. Their “Conveyor Guard” system is perfect for virtually every type of conveyor application. This system not only protects workers but also reduces or eliminates product damage that would be caused with metal guards. InCord’s “Cart Nets” are used as an alternative to shrink wrapping. This reusable system is extremely cost effective and pays dividends after just a few uses.

Where Technology Meets Craftsmanship

       InCord’s engineering department is equipped with the latest in 2D and 3D design software – allowing them to create virtual models as well as maintain the highest levels quality control throughout the entire design and manufacturing process. Even though they are armed with the latest state-of-the-art technology all of their nets are still produced by a team of very talented craftsmen.
InCord does not utilize a lot of robotic machinery in their facility. In fact, “if you walked onto our manufacturing floor today, you’d see a lot of hand tools, and you’d see a lot of people making things by hand,” explained Ritz. There are still some things that real people can do much better than robots, as their team demonstrates each and every day.
       Even with InCord’s craftsman approach, an incredible 85 percent of the company’s orders are produced within two or three days. Most of the remaining projects will ship in less than two weeks from the time the order was placed, which exceeds industry averages.


Family Owned and Value-Driven

      Founded by Ed Ritz in 1996, a small office, and an inventory that could fit in a closet, InCord has grown into a 100,000 sq. ft. facility with more than 110 team members. Their humble beginning is what set the foundation for their culture that exists today. “There’s a great culture of pride here” said Russ Nieman. “The first day I stepped on the production floor I could feel it – a well-functioning machine. The entire staff is very well trained and happy to be there. Happy to produce something they know will make a difference.” InCord promotes from within. People have started working there without any background in manufacturing at all, and have moved up the production chain into management levels. The company offers opportunities for continuous career growth. Not just long term employment – but opportunities for professional advancement in all sectors. Employee turnover is 3 percent or less. With a number of team members that have worked there over 15 years.
     “We are a family owned, value-driven company. That’s what my father started it to be,” Dan explained. “Always looking to build our community, make a difference in our customer’s lives, and offer those same benefits of safety and security to our employees. There is very low employee turnover, and this provides a massive accumulated knowledge base of best practices for netting manufacturing. The experience of our team members allows lets us deliver a much higher quality product day in and day out. This is what manufacturing jobs used to be. Our intent is to provide lifelong employment for our employees. They’ve transcended to craftsmen rather than just laborers.”

Commitment to Customers

      From the company’s humble beginnings more than two decades ago, until present day, InCord has never lost sight of its tried and true business model. “We focus on maintaining the highest level of quality while still providing the quickest lead times in the industry,” said Ritz. Sticking to its family-owned business values, continuing to deliver the best product on time, and exceeding expectations is how InCord has been able to consistently grow its customer base year after year. Two of the major differentiators that allows InCord to deliver its product quickly are its large inventory coupled with access to a dedicated workforce that is second to none.
      “Few competitors can handle the large projects and provide the quick turn-around times like we do,” Ritz said. “We maintain a huge inventory. We also have 100,000 hours of annual production time at our disposal. These two factors provide us with the unique ability to do large infrastructure projects that most companies would really struggle with.”

It’s all about the Culture

      InCord has spent more than two decades creating a culture where everyone feels like family. Turnover is virtually non-existent, and employees care passionately about their business and their craft. The company has adopted a practice of building community both inside and outside of InCord. One of the ways in which they achieve this is by being an active participant in product development and testing to raise industry standards, especially around safety. The company has also worked to make volunteerism part of its culture. InCord supports the charities and efforts that are important to their own employees. “Community involvement is fundamental. It’s what we do every day,” Ritz said.
      InCord has diligently worked throughout the years to advance their sustainability efforts. As a Platinum member of the Green Business Bureau, Ritz said “everything we do is built around sustainability, and environmental sustainability is a big piece of that.” InCord does everything possible to reduce its carbon footprint; including powering its facility with solar energy and reducing their production waste to almost zero. However, they do not stop there, Ritz went on to say, “sustainability is also about sustaining the community, developing long term employees, and developing long term partnerships with our vendors and our customers.”

Accolades and Accreditations

       Sporting a long list of accolades and accreditations, including being members of ASTM International (a global standard organization), the Eastern Advanced Manufacturing Alliance, and the Material Handling Institute. InCord has one certification that it is particularly proud of: its ISO 9001 certification. InCord has successfully passed the last two audits for the ISO 9001 quality certification with perfect scores. The company also holds the achievement of a Connecticut Top Workplace. InCord has held this honor for six years in a row representing the top one percent of all Connecticut business.
       With a strong history and proven track record, along with the distinction as North America’s largest custom netting fabricator, InCord has been providing the best custom netting products to customers worldwide since 1995. As a pillar in their community, InCord will continue to excel not only as a manufacturer but as a true industry leader well into the future, exactly as founder Ed Ritz had envisioned.

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Company Name: Realized Solutions, Inc.
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