The secret to Contine Corp.’s success just might be the company’s flexibility.
Contine, in Lawrence Park Township, manufactures mechanical and electromechanical assemblies to their customers’ specifications.
Owner and co-founder Connie Ellrich describes Contine as a job shop – providing a variety of manufacturing services to their OEM customers. As a result, the company’s leadership is always looking ahead, working to secure the next job or contract.
Experience working with customers throughout multiple industries has enhanced Contine’s capabilities and flexibility. “We have to constantly change,” says Kelly Heberle, quality control manager. “Customers have their needs, and we have to adapt to accommodate them.”
So far, that adaptability has proved to be a successful model for Contine, which has grown and flourished over the years. The company, which originated in Cleveland in 1981, moved to Erie in 1983 and quickly outgrew its rented space. In 1985, Ellrich purchased a new facility, expanding it three times to its current footprint of about 30,000 square feet.
Part of that growth has included the purchase of plastic injection molding equipment. In addition, Contine’s facility houses both small and large assembly areas, a full service machine shop and two overhead cranes.
But much more work is underway at Contine. Around the shop, workers are busy assembling devices – including delicate equipment and intricate electronics – with a dexterity born of practice.
“It’s something different every day,” Heberle says.
About Contine Corp.: The company’s agility has been bolstered by a rock-solid stability. Contine has a management team that has spent years working together to build the company, and it also boasts a low turnover rate among permanent employees, Ellrich says. A good portion of their work has been in the transit industry, which Ellrich hopes will continue to provide a steady influx of business for Contine.
Why Erie County: Contine has found it beneficial to work with other local businesses in Erie County. And overall, Ellrich says, Erie County has been a nice home for Contine. “We have been very successful here,” she says. “It’s been a great place to grow a business.”
Challenges of Erie County: Contine faces some challenges that are common to small businesses, particularly when it comes to health-care costs. The company has found a strategy to contend with another challenge faced by many small businesses: Finding quality employees. Contine uses some temporary workers through a local placement agency, and has then hired people as permanent employees through that process.
Fun fact: Contine is a certified Woman Business Enterprise (WBE).