Michael Noer, promoted to president of the Airtex Group and its Acme Made brand, is positioning the Minneapolis-based textile manufacturer to take advantage of growing interest in U.S.-made goods.
The Airtex Group has been working with customers to find manufacturing options outside of China and has moved Acme Made’s production out of that country for economic reasons, Noer said.
More recently, Noer said, the possibility of new or additional tariffs on products made in China has prompted customers to ask about the Airtex Group’s manufacturing capabilities at its Minneapolis factory and those of its partners elsewhere in Asia.
“When we’re looking at projects for our own brand, Acme Made, or we’re building products for our key customers that fall under their brands, we have a multitude of options for them,” Noer said.
Noer joined the Airtex Group in 2017 as senior vice president of the custom home textile goods and sewn products maker. He previously was CEO of Acme Made, having formed the company that in 2015 bought the brand known for laptop and tablet sleeves, backpacks and messenger and fitness bags.
Mike Miller, CEO of the Airtex Group, continues in that role at the firm, which his grandfather founded in 1918.
Miller invested in Acme Made in 2016 and the sister companies, with more than 100 employees, in August announced completion of their merger.
Noer has more than two decades of leadership experience at companies including Thule Group, Imation Corp. and Time Warner Cable.
Q: How have your responsibilities changed with this promotion?
A: This clarifies our communication. Mike Miller focuses on strategic aspects, big-picture things. While I’m involved in that, this allows me to run the day-to-day business implementing our core strategies.
Q: What are your goals as president?
A: Making sure that our team understands that we have the capability to bring to market some very creative solutions in a wide variety of product categories. With our own brands it’s finding the white space in the market and developing products in competitive categories and working with our key customers to get placement and build the brand. The intrinsic value in the company goes up with our brand presence in the marketplace.
Q: What drove the merger?
A: Mike’s been working on textile products his entire career but the one where he wasn’t focused was building his own brand. For me brand building virtually was my entire career. Having a brand to demonstrate your capabilities and say to customers that we know what your experience is with customers gives us credibility that we haven’t had before.