You know the entrepreneur who can fix anything on the place with the materials at hand? That’s Proctor-based Carris Reels Inc., only on a different scale. Although the premise of the reel company is simple (“we make squares into circles,” as CEO Dave Ferraro puts it) there are parts involved, and most of those parts are made at one of the company’s premises.
The wire and cable reel company makes the long bolts that hold its reels. It does its own shipping with its fleet of six trucks, which the company services in its own garage. It operates a freight dispatch of sorts that enables it to fill the trucks on their return trips so they’re not running empty.
The company, with $140 million in annual revenues, owns plastic plants in Rutland, Virginia, Mexico and Texas where it makes the plastic parts for its spools, and a mill where it machines plywood for the wooden components. Research and development happens at the company’s Center Rutland facility. Pretty much the only big ingredient Carris Reels doesn’t own is the wood supply itself; that softwood comes from New England, Quebec and Arkansas. Even the ownership of the company happens in-house; Carris Reels is structured through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, or ESOP. “We have a governance model where we try to give our employees as much say in decision-making in how we run our company as we can,” said Ferraro.
Carris Reels was founded in Rutland in 1951 by Henry Carris, who passed the company to his son, Bill Carris, in 1981. It was the idea of Bill Carris — now chairman of the board — to convert the company to employee ownership, said Ferraro. One hundred percent of the company’s wealth is owned by the employees.