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Change Suites Crosstex Fine

Nov. 1, 2005
Company positions itself for the 21st century through acquisition, new business opportunities

By Kevin Henry, Editor

Company positions itself for the 21st century through acquisition, new business opportunities

Since the dawn of the 21st century, change has been a constant at Crosstex International. While some companies might flounder in a sea of change, Crosstex has solidified its place as a global leader through acquisitions and partnerships.

“It all started with a paper towel,” remembers Richard Allen Orofino, president of Crosstex International. “When the decision was made to sell our dental laboratory business in 1988 (the world’s largest dental lab at that time), we realized that to grow Crosstex, we had to control our own destiny by manufacturing more than just dental bibs.”

From that simple beginning as a towel manufacturer, Crosstex International has steadily grown into one of the world’s leading infection prevention and control entities. Part of that growth has included taking control of its own destiny. While manufacturing only 20 percent of its sales in 1988, Crosstex today manufactures more than 70 percent.

“Five years ago, we weren’t producing any of our own face masks. Today, we’re the top-branded face mask in the dental industry and we make our own product in the United States,” said Andrew Whitehead, vice president of sales and marketing at Crosstex. “We have devoted our money and resources to ensuring we sell the highest quality of products available. By controlling the manufacturing process, we also control our own destiny. When you control the quality of your product, you truly control your business.”

Incorporating some of the latest state-of-the-art machinery available today, Crosstex is successfully competing against many of the lower-quality, knock-off products coming from China.

“Changes in manufacturing processes and philosophies have allowed Crosstex to grow our core infection control business and also branch out into other product categories,” said Les Gershon, vice president of the Northeast region.

Controlling their own business has served Crosstex owners Orofino and Gary and Mitchell Steinberg well. The trio has seen the company rise to not only own the top-branded face mask, but also the top-branded sterilization pouch as well as being a leader in several other infection prevention and control categories.

Crosstex’s devotion to quality has carried over into other new ventures as well. The company recently purchased what was a supplier of Crosstex’s pouch material and has changed the small Pennsylvania company into a multi-faceted producer of plastic products.

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“We saw an opportunity to make ourselves better and more diverse,” said Carmine Todaro, manager of operations at Crosstex. “Before we bought the company, they were our main supplier of laminates and printed paper. We saw that we could purchase the company, do a majority of things ourselves, and be in control of the entire process.”

Part of the philosophy change at the plant in Sharon, Pa., has come from Crosstex placing its stamp of higher quality on the facility. Crosstex went to great lengths to ensure the facility, its machines, and its employees met the company’s high standards. Crosstex invested in the revitalization of the plant’s main printing press, and the results of the investments have been noticed by those in and out of the dental industry.

“We’re currently producing labels for other companies like Blue Rhino (propane tanks), New England Confectionary Company (makers of such products as Clark candy bars, Sweetheart candies, and malted milk balls), and other companies outside of the medical/dental industry,” Todaro explained. “These are companies that work with national chains such as Lowe’s and Wal-Mart. They want high quality at those stores, and we’re able to provide that level of quality.

“In addition, we’re also able to extrude and make our own evacuation tips and other products for the dental and medical office. This has truly been a home run for all of those involved.”

Crosstex also hit a home run when it landed a contract to produce the liners for changing tables in such national chains as Toys R Us. It’s another example of how the company has changed, but the core products (such as the towel) remain such a key part of the success of Crosstex.

That success should escalate even faster than before thanks to the recent purchase of Crosstex by Cantel Medical Corp. Purchased on August 1, 2005, Crosstex is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of the New York Stock Exchange listed company.

“We have built this business customer by customer, product by product, person by person, facility by facility over the last 53 years. We were not looking to sell this business, rather to continue to grow the business,” said Mitchell Steinberg, executive vice president of Crosstex. “Cantel believed in Crosstex, believed in our business model, believed in our people, and believed it was the right thing to do for everyone concerned.”

“If you look at the acquisition strategy of Cantel, you quickly realize the shared optimistic view of the market potential,” Whitehead added. “Crosstex becomes the ideal platform upon which to build and expand Cantel’s reach within single-use products for the infection prevention and control market.”

Make no mistake about it - Crosstex believes the acquisition by Cantel will allow the company to grow even faster and expand even further in the very near future. Crosstex management also believes the acquisition will give its employees an opportunity to grow through their individual skills and expertise.

“We know that to get to the next level of company size and revenue, we had to do something big,” said Richard Orofino Jr., director of operations and regulatory affairs at Crosstex. “With our push on education within the industry (see sidebar) and the acquisition by Cantel, we all believe that Crosstex is going to snowball into a bigger company very quickly.”

The Cantel acquisition has also been met favorably by those on Wall Street, who believe the transaction matches Cantel’s strategy of owning high-quality products with strong market share in the infection prevention and control segment.

The changes have given Crosstex more muscle, but the company is determined to not stray from its skeleton. The company’s core values of manufacturing high-quality products for the dental and medical office is first and foremost in Crosstex’s action plan for growing the company.

“Our customer service is second to none and we’re among the major distributors’ top vendors,” said Ron Psimas, vice president of the Southeast region. “These distributors know they can trust us when they place an order. The order goes out in a very timely manner and it’s complete. That says a lot about Crosstex.”

“Crosstex is fulfilling its role as an industry leader by selling its products the right way for the right reason,” states Sheldon Fisher, vice president of the Western region. “The company’s goal is to not only sell products, but also to build long-term relationships with our customers. We have worked very hard to earn our reputation as an ethical company that will always take the high road in our dealings with our customers.”

Crosstex also has the advantage of five manufacturing/distribution centers in the United States. With two facilities in New York, and one each in Pennsylvania, California, and Georgia, it’s easier and faster for Crosstex to fulfill orders. With three distribution centers overseas (Europe, South America, and Japan), Crosstex can provide the same high quality of service to the international customer as easily as one in the United States.

Sticking to its core values from the past and planning for an exciting future has created buzz at the Crosstex corporate offices in Hauppauge, N.Y. It’s also given the company an exciting vision about the next chapter in the firm’s history, according to Gary Steinberg.

“We are looking forward to continuing the tradition started by our fathers and nurtured by our three generations of family members, our customers, our employees, and our suppliers.”

There has been plenty of change at Crosstex throughout its existence, especially in the last decade. But, Crosstex can certainly agree with Sheryl Crow’s lyrics that, “The change will do you good.” Evolution and change has transformed the company from a towel manufacturer to a worldwide leader in its field and positioned it for continued success in the future.