Portfolio Company Spotlight: Q&A with Ed Freesmeier, VP of Sales and Marketing for Aerofil Technology, Inc.

Aerofil Technology, Inc., a contract manufacturer that provides aerosol formulation and packaging capabilities, has recently named Ed Freesmeier VP of Sales and Marketing.  Learn what characteristics Ed believes sets Aerofil apart and why he is excited to be a member of the HBM portfolio company family.


Please walk us through your professional background. What personal opportunities do you foresee in your new role?

EF:  Sales and manufacturing have been the main focus of my career. But if you look at my resume, there’s a more specific theme: I have about 20 years of experience with companies that solve packaging and container challenges for clients. That started in 1999 when I joined the sales team of a privately-held business called C.L. Smith Container Company. Ten years later, I joined Aerofil Technology where I have recently been promoted to VP of Sales and Marketing.

I really enjoy sharing things I’ve learned throughout my career, particularly when it helps other people with their own professional development. That’s one reason I’m truly excited about my new role — I will coach and develop a sales team. There will also be tremendous personal development opportunities for me as I become more involved in the commercial strategy and gain P&L exposure.  It is a fantastic opportunity, and I’m so grateful for it.

What sets Aerofil apart in the marketplace?

EF:  It’s our Lean culture, hands down.  The premise behind Lean is to eliminate waste.  It’s a goal that only takes two words to describe, but a lot of effort and investment to execute properly. At Aerofil, that included the creation of in-house experts — we call them Lean Facilitators. The time spent on our Lean focus definitely pays off, in multiple ways: the business drives value to its customers, implements effective inventory control, creates a safer work environment, and increases profitability. Aerofil began its Lean journey more than 10 years ago — now, it’s a major component of our culture.

In addition to Aerofil’s Lean culture, we differentiate ourselves by not competing with our customers. This is critical. It makes our relationships with customers even stronger because they know we aren’t manufacturing similar products. Instead, we’re focusing on R&D, audits and other important processes.

How does Aerofil’s Lean culture give the company a competitive edge?

EF: By adopting the Toyota Production System (TPS), we have been able to drive waste out of the production process by aligning our customers and their supplier relationships. As a result, we have created a pull process — that means we produce off of consumption rather than forecasts.  And it created some dramatic improvements: Our lead times have gone from weeks to days, and our inventory turns have increased. That’s enabled us to service our customers better and keep costs down.

Lean is an effective process, but it is truly a journey that not many companies stick with.  It is difficult to implement and embed in a company’s culture.  Aerofil is one of the few companies within the industry that has successfully adopted Lean, creating a significant competitive advantage for us.

How do you envision HBM assisting Aerofil’s growth?

EF: Both Aerofil, and I, personally, have benefitted from being part of HBM’s portfolio company family.  If you think about it, that is a remarkable statement given that the acquisition was announced in September of last year.

One example is HBM’s talent development strategy. In the coming years, I expect Aerofil will benefit from it immensely – in fact, we already have. Daniel Wright, a former HBM employee, recently became the CEO of Aerofil, after serving as COO for six months. I just returned from attending HBM’s inaugural Talent Summit where I gained a much better understanding of HBM’s leadership development philosophy and portfolio of companies.  I foresee Aerofil improving on many levels as a result of HBM’s talent initiatives.

From a business perspective, HBM’s associate team has been tremendously helpful setting strategies and taking the lead on projects. This summer, we will be working with a team of HBM associates and summer associates on a project to upgrade our capacity – something that we’re quite excited about.

As you can probably tell, I’m very enthusiastic about Aerofil’s future — and so glad to be a part of it.