Supplier showed discipline, and is reaping rewards

On Tuesday night I went to a retirement planning talk. On Wednesday, I went to the dedication of an automotive supplier's new advanced development center. The message at each was surprisingly similar.

The financial advisor talked about the need to stick to a sound investment strategy. Most important: You need discipline to invest when the market is down.

The supplier, SRG Global, which makes coated trim products such as chrome-plated plastic and metal grilles, showed that discipline.

Last year SRG, like most suppliers, was hunkering down. It consolidated and idled plants.

But it also bought a small plant from a failed rival. It moved idled equipment from other plants there, and set up a low-volume facility. The idea was to test out new products and processes so it can work the bugs out of new tools and dies before moving them to the final production plant. SRG says it'll ensure faster, smoother production launches.

And SRG has been hiring Ph.D.s who can develop new, environmentally friendly coatings and other products to help the company grow.

As we come out of the recession, companies are restoring their r&d budgets. And investors are moving back into the stock market. But folks who had the nerve and vision to invest when times were bleak will reap more rewards than those who waited.