By Carol K. Dumas
Less than five years ago, Renard Megard was spending 85 percent of his time on an airplane traveling back and forth to 64 plants all over the world as vice president of Cabot’s global supply chain.
Megard had spent more than 20 years in the chemical global supply chain industry working for huge corporations including Cabot and BASF, the largest chemical producer in world, where he managed nearly $400 million in business.
As his second daughter was entering college, he reflected on his life. Family meant everything to him, yet he was missing out on those special milestones in their lives.
“I was seeking a better work and family balance,” he recalls. “I decided to reorganize my priorities.”
Megard, who always wanted to be an entrepreneur, began exploring his options.
“I didn’t have a preference for the type of industry, but I found NFI was for sale and it was a perfect match as I had a knowledge of chemicals and plastics,” he says. A native of France, Megard’s family runs a vineyard in Burgundy and he is a fourth generation vintner. “Winemaking is about chemistry, too.”
Nameplates For Industry, or NFI Corp., was founded in 1975 and established a business base in New Bedford by 1988. The business, which specializes in printing on plastic, started as a screen-printing and flexographic manufacturer. When Megard bought NFI four years ago, its growth had been stagnant for years. He began implementing major changes to develop the company’s exposure within the industry, increase its customer base and plan for future growth with new investments in the latest digital technologies.
Today, NFI Corp. is a global leader in high performing printed graphic solutions, serving a long list of industries, including the medical, industrial manufacturing, government/military, professional services, technology and communications, transportation and equipment, and distribution industries. Its products, produced via digital and flexographic printing, include long-lasting barcode labels, serial number labels, domed labels, asset tags, tamper-proof labels, metal nameplates, and electrical membrane switches. A recent project was creating American flag labels for the Contour, a NASA probe exploring the nature of comets.
Megard’s leadership has enabled NFI Corp. to achieve a 180.43 percent increase in growth over the last three years.
The company’s meteoric success was recognized this year by INC magazine which ranked NFI Corp. 2,442 on its annual 5000 list, a ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. Providence Business News named NFI Corp. among five finalists in the region’s Fastest Growing companies for 2019, in the Private Company ($5 million to $25 million) category.
“The companies on this year’s INC. 5000 have followed so many different paths to success,” said INC. editor in chief James Ledbetter.” There’s no single course you can follow or investment you can take that will guarantee this kind of spectacular growth. But what they have in common is persistence and seizing opportunities.”
“This has been a great year for us and we are honored by this recognition,” Renaud acknowledges. “We appreciate all of the hard work that led to this achievement, and we look forward to building upon it in the short term.”
Among the key improvements he made at NFI was increasing the turnaround of orders, instituting sustainable, greener manufacturing practices and upgrading equipment to digital processes.
“When I arrived at NFI, I took a deep dive in eliminating every single solvent,” he says. “Sustainability is part of our values, the DNA of our company. I wanted to have less emissions. We wanted to have an impact on what we do every day, using sustainable materials, chemicals that are fully recyclable, and water soluble, solvent free inks. Today, when you visit our plant there is no chemical smell.”
To increase NFI’s business, Megard worked on growing organic sales with existing customers. Two years ago, he purchased a similar existing company, Design Mark in Wareham. He also founded a new one, Flexible Pack in Quincy, which specialized in making products such as flexible pouches and shrink sleeves for the food and beverage, cannabis, pharmaceutical, pet care, home and garden and personal care industries.
“The acquisition allowed us to develop our business on a larger scale and increased our market share. The launch of Flexible Pack is allowing us to branch out into the packaging industry,” CEO Megard says.
While he’s remained a corporate executive in this new chapter of his career, he’s achieved the work-life balance he sought leading a small company.
“I’m home every night and having dinner with my wife and kids instead being somewhere else on another continent is priceless,” he says.
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