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Companies Of A Century: For Conco, Strong And Steady Wins

Making savvy seques, keeping a lower profile and being a fast follower on new tech has enabled Conco to beat the odds.

Editor’s Note: Chief Executive is kicking off a new annual tradition this year by celebrating every sizable (over $100 million in annual revenues) standalone company turning 100 in 2023. Check out the rest of this year’s class for tips, insights and, above all else, the inspiration you need to keep going….and going.

 

FACILITIES SUPPORT SERVICES 

CONCO SERVICES 

HQ: Verona, Pennsylvania
Revenues: ~$210 million
Employees: 345 

To hear Edward Saxon tell it, “tunnel vision” may be underrated—at least as business strategies go. The CEO of Conco Services, which provides products and services to the power generation and industrial markets, Saxon credits precisely that approach with his company’s success. “Too many times, one is tempted to diverge from the primary mission without properly investigating the viability of new ventures or ideas,” he says. 

That doesn’t mean Conco has never had to pivot over; on the contrary, the company adapted its business model multiple times, including an early segue from manufacturing to services. The key is to take very calculated risks, he says. “If one pays attention, vets opportunities and focuses on the details of what they are doing, whether services or products, they can be in for a long run of success,” he says. 

Change When Needed 

Most recently, Conco has been pivoting toward more industrial-based markets. “That was mostly driven by the closure of a lot of our power customers’ facilities. So now, we service both.” The transition isn’t quite finished and has required work to meet safety requirements in refineries and chemical plants. Terms conditions, technical languages and sales methodologies are all different as well. 

So far, the move is paying off. “We assessed the market opportunity and decided we would take a shot,” says Saxon. “More than 50 percent of our business now comes from this new market. They say, ‘100 years—why haven’t we heard of you?’” 

Saxon is content with a lower profile and being a fast follower on the technology front. “We could not take a chance to be on the bleeding edge of technological change in any area of our business,” he says, noting that when it’s necessary to adopt new technologies, “they just need to be proved out before a company like ours dives in.” 

Looking ahead, Saxon says he plans to use the same strategy that got Conco here: “Focusing on the opportunities we have in front of us, selling what we have now and aggressively investigating and examining opportunities for new markets or products and services that will fit our markets. The key is to proceed with caution and flexibility.” 


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