Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

March 5, 2013

Hillenbrand Inc. becomes diversified

Diane Raver
The Herald-Tribune

BATESVILLE — “We’ve made of lot of changes since 2008 when we transformed ourself from being a well-known casket company to being a diversified global manufacturing company,” Ken Camp, Hillenbrand Inc. president and chief executive officer, said during the annual shareholders’ meeting Feb. 27.  

“We still have that great foundation of Batesville Casket Co. .... (but it) faced some significant demographic issues, specifically the number of people who died in a certain year.

“As change has taken place, we’ve moved from being a casket business centered in the U.S. We’re now part of the Americas, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. There are new markets out there for us, but we had to change how we thought about ourselves.”

Through the Process Equipment Group, “we manufacture world-class industrial equipment. They all are brands that are very well respected.

“Coperion is our most recent acquisition and the largest. They make big compounders and have very large pieces of equipment. K-Tron was our first acquisition.” The company designs, produces, markets, sells and services feeders and pneumatic conveying equipment. “It’s the No. 1 brand in its industry.

“Rotex is based in Cincinnati. It has vibratory screening equipment, like the sugar sifter my grandmother used .... Terra Source is in the coal and potash business and makes crushing equipment. It’s going through the most change. We’re going where the coal is – China, Russia – and India is next.”

The CEO revealed, “Our strategy is to develop new products, penetrate new markets around the world. We want to expand in underpenetrated geographies, establish the scale and scope needed to accelerate global growth and expand our margins through the application of lean techniques.

“When we acquired Coperion, that’s when the gear started going. It had a network with 30 locations with trained technicians and gave us a launching platform to go into new geographies. Our challenge now is to be speedy and methodical. That’s what Joe Raver (Process Equipment Group president) and his team are doing. We will go as fast as we can without being reckless.”

Batesville Casket Co. is “the world’s largest provider of funeral products. When you travel around the world and talk to people and say you’re from Batesville, they know the caskets are made here.

“Batesville is a well-known brand, the best in the industry. It has so many wonderful qualities, but as society has moved to cremations” and less of a demand for caskets, some cuts had to be made. “It’s hard in any town, but it’s necessary to make those decisions so the people who remain with the company have good jobs. We also recognize our responsibility to shareholders to be profitable.”