As Acme Electric enters into its second centennial of continuous operation, the company renews its commitment to the transformer industry by supporting new technology, providing products to support customers around the planet, and retaining its leadership position in the areas of efficiency and inventiveness. In fact, this 100+ year-old company innovates like a start-up but provides generations of experience and cultivating customer trust.
The true meaning of the word “ACME” refers to when something is at its best or most successful. That’s the reason why Acme Electric was so named back in 1917, when the company started its legacy of producing top-performing electrical products in Cleveland, Ohio. Founded by C.H. Bunch, G.R. Hillstrom, J.B. Armitage, R.A. Lais, and G.R. Sawitzke as Acme Electric and Machine Company, the initial product offerings consisted of motor driven battery chargers, electrical appliances, and electrical generators. In 1925, Acme jumped into the transformer world with their transformer-type battery chargers and in 1936, introduced the Dry-Type Distribution Transformer and the rest, as they say, is history.
The rise and growth of Acme Electric is a remarkable example of a successful American business. Acme was established during a time when many technological and industrial advances were made in the United States and World War I was coming to an end. In fact, the company was just hitting its stride in the late 1920s and 1930s when the Great Depression hit and negatively impacted the worldwide economy. While most companies were floundering amidst the Great Depression, Acme was growing by leaps and bounds. In 1936, the same year the company produced the Dry-Type Distribution Transformer, they moved into a new production facility in Cuba, New York to accommodate the growing operation.
Celebrating the Acme Centennial and Moving Toward the Future
Throughout the 100 years of Acme Electric’s existence, they have developed a growing array of transformer product lines, offering a bold contribution to the commercial construction industry. Acme Electric is now part of the Hubbell Incorporated team. Jean-Yves Schneider, Acme Electric Brand Manager explains: “As we grow our partnership with Hubbell Inc., Acme Electric will continue the tradition of commitment to a diversified mix of quality transformer products. Being a part of the Hubbell family of companies has helped us to focus our expertise and grow. It’s something we’re evolving with the Acme Electric brand as they become a closer-knit element of our business. We’ve never been better!”
Today, Acme Electric is a full-line manufacturer of low voltage (600V and below) and medium voltage (2.5kV through 15kV) dry-type distribution transformers, industrial control transformers, and power quality equipment. Acme products cover the full spectrum of applications, from general purpose power distribution in commercial applications to ultra-efficient transformers used in alternative energy to transformers that address harmful harmonic conditions generated in today’s electrical loads.
Staying Ahead of Changes and the Competition
Acme stays up-to-date on the latest regulations when it comes to power and efficiencies. A few years ago, many requirements became more stringent, Acme was ready with new products to meet the latest compliance regulations. A specific example in 2016, was when the Department of Energy mandated new, more stringent efficiency standards for many of the transformers currently in the market. The new standard replaced the one that went into effect in 2007. This impacted many of the transformers installed in the industry. While the intent was to help companies reduce their carbon footprint by becoming more energy efficient, this new regulation meant companies had to update their current equipment. Acme was at the forefront of providing a new transformer that would not only allow companies to stay compliant but would exceed the new standard as well as provide the latest features based on customer feedback.
To keep ahead of new regulations and customer requirements, Acme is an active participant and attendee of many relevant trade associations, including: NEMA, CSA, UL, IEEE, and The Transformer Association. These organizations discuss and/or vote on new regulations so Acme can learn about changes first hand and make necessary design changes to comply early on even before new regulations go into effect.
The internal and external sales teams at Acme also work closely to gather feedback directly from the customer and apply improvements that make customers’ jobs easier. The company’s sales staff attends many tradeshows, where they are able to talk directly with customers. That information is then brought back to the design and manufacture teams to work on new products. This strategy keeps the customers heavily involved from the beginning to help define their needs and wants. “We pay attention to the voice of the customer,” said Schneider. “We listen to the feedback they provide to the technical service department, to the sales staff, as well as on social media. We take into account most of what they say to help launch successful new products to meet their needs.”
In 2018, Acme introduced a new line of industrial control transformers with products that provide more benefits than the previous line with a high degree of voltage regulation. “This new line and our other product offerings provide the latest in technology and energy efficiency,” said Schneider. “We’re always looking for ways to improve our products, help customers meet and, where we can, exceed industry standards. We also listen to our customers and take their feedback to heart when developing new products. Developing products that provide solutions to our customers is part of the Acme legacy.”
Planning for the Next 100 Years
Although Acme Electric’s initial offerings were limited to transformers, today the company’s products and components are found in a wide array of applications and industries across the globe, on land, on water, and in the air. To keep up with the pace of change in the industry, Acme maintains its basic strategy of listening to their customers and staying up-to-date with industry trends.
“While the current and future transformer industry is facing challenges from tariffs as well as increased prices from suppliers of raw materials including steel and aluminum, we don’t foresee the current tariffs going away any time soon,” said Schneider. “Thanks to our strong operations and capabilities, we can move manufacturing of tariff-impacted parts to our other plants. We are also working with suppliers to help mitigate any price increases as well as identifying new local suppliers that are not impacted by the tariffs. We remain committed to our customers to avoid impacting them with major price increases even as future energy efficiency requirements for North America also loom ahead.” As for industry growth, the leaders at Acme foresee a boom in transformer needs in Mexico as well as Central and South America. To make the most of new geographical opportunities, Acme is utilizing its relationship with Hubbell and its presence and sales force that already exists in these markets to offer transformer products as well. “We are working on some exciting new products that will disrupt the existing transformer market and technology, providing additional benefits to our current and potential customers,” said Schneider. “By staying at the forefront of the industry now, and for the next 100 years, is part of the Acme legacy.”
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