Manufacturing growth

Adam Pratt, CEL '08, EMBA '13.

In 2001, Adam Pratt, CEL ’08, EMBA ’13, was hired by Sherex Industries as the first project manager for its fledgling fasteners division. 

Within three years, he had increased revenue by more than 2,000 percent and launched a separate company, Sherex Fastening Solutions. Today, as president, he leads a global manufacturing firm with $25 million in annual revenue.

“I try not to think about my successes too much and keep my eyes pointed forward on what’s next,” the Sandy Creek, N.Y., native says.

Pratt earned his bachelor’s degree in economics at the University of Rochester in 2001 and joined Sherex Industries later that summer.

“I was fortunate that my father had a small machine shop growing up,” he says. “After college, I wanted a job in business that would leverage my past experience in manufacturing.”

He oversaw the company’s fastener line, including market analysis, technical materials, sales and supplier relationships. He grew annual revenue from $138,000 to more than $3 million, and established relationships with manufacturers in Taiwan and Belgium to be their North American distributor.

With business booming, Pratt co-founded sister company Sherex Fastening Solutions in 2004 and opened its first manufacturing facility the following year in Chungli, Taiwan.

“That was a substantial step in the growth of the organization,” he says. “Our products include a lot of engineered fasteners, so the ability to control our intellectual property is really important. Setting up our own facility also allowed us to control the manufacturing quality and put in place the procedures needed to be a world-class manufacturer of fasteners.”

As the business continued to grow, Pratt decided he needed to expand his knowledge base and network. He completed the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) Core program in 2008, and says the opportunity to interact with other entrepreneurs and share problems and advice was invaluable to his company’s success.

“While going through a tremendous period of flux, it was an incredible learning experience to have a group of people you could talk to about issues you’re facing and hear about issues they have in their businesses,” he says. “You can learn from anyone best practices and ways to make your business better.”

After being named president in 2012, Pratt earned his Executive MBA at the School of Management. In addition to expanding his network with another cohort of business leaders, Pratt says he found the human resource, data modeling, finance and accounting courses particularly valuable.

“The EMBA program really bolstered my knowledge, gave me confidence that I was headed in the right direction and provided tools to sharpen my abilities and improve my critical thinking and analysis of situations,” he says.

Today, Sherex Fastening Solutions operates production facilities in Akron, Ohio, and Taiwan, a distribution facility in Mexico and its company headquarters in Western New York. It has customers on four continents in such industries as automotive, agriculture, construction, solar and aerospace.

Outside the office, Pratt enjoys biking, running and trying new restaurants with his wife, Kristin Cipollone, who earned her PhD from UB’s Graduate School of Education. In addition, he serves as vice-chair of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership’s Manufacturers Council and on the Founders Council of Buffalo Manufacturing Works.

“It’s been great to see the development and resurgence of Buffalo and to be one small piece of that growth in the region,” he says.

Written by Matthew Biddle