New Exporter of the Year

Jtec Industries was founded in 2004 by Morton residents Jon Peterson, who had manufacturing sales experience, and Joe Knepp, who had a growing engineering and machining shop. Together, they designed and sold returnable packaging containers and racks to industrial and agricultural clients in the Midwest. As the quality of their products and customer service built their reputation, the business grew. Today they are a leader in the material handling industry with three manufacturing facilities, 120 team members and sales exceeding $21 million.

Jtec designs and builds custom solutions to move materials throughout manufacturing and distribution facilities. Its patented CarryMore Tugger Cart System uses a unique configuration of multi-cart trains to deliver multiple loads of materials to and from production lines in one route, replacing costly forklifts that carry one load at a time. Jtec’s new CarryMatic smart carts—the first to market to be pulled by Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs)—continuously pick up and deliver materials to smart lineside stations, hands-free. This innovation garnered an industry “Product of the Year” award in 2018.

Seeking to expand internationally, Jtec came to the Illinois SBDC International Trade Center (ITC) at Bradley University to develop a proactive strategy for growth. After receiving substantial international interest at a major trade show in Atlanta, they worked together to prioritize a plan for exports. Since then Jtec has significantly expanded its marketing and distribution geographical boundaries while continuing to utilize other ITC services, including Free Trade Agreement assistance, product classification, and assistance applying for state and federal grants.

Through participation in Bradley’s International Senior Consulting Project, Mexico was identified as a top potential market, and Jtec has built on its initial successes there, adding local team members and contracting resellers to grow the business. “Our growth is still most active in North America, including Mexico, which is rapidly welcoming new manufacturing facilities,” Peterson says. “Before those plants implement old, dangerous practices, we want them to implement our systems. With our local sales presence established in Mexico, we are better positioned to meet their needs.”

In the near-term, Peterson hopes to increase the business by 20 to 25 percent each year. “We have the capacity,” he adds. “Long term, we expect to be a $40 million company by 2022.” PM