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Tuesday, Oct 3, 2023

Local Business Spurns Suitors, Keeps All in the Family

Leonard Moore considers the company he founded 40 years ago to be a ripe plum in the process automation industry and once a week he fights off attempts to pick his fruit. In his office in North Hills, Moore holds up a letter from a major competitor based in the Midwest requesting a meeting; a competitor whose name begins with “R” and ends in “L” with 20,000 employees around the world and revenues in the range of $5 billion annually. But Moore isn’t biting. These inquiries have never interested him otherwise Moore Industries International would have been sold years ago. After all, its founder has had since 1968 to make a sale. Leonard Moore has other plans for his company and they don’t involve selling out to a large corporation. Those plans do include having middle son Nick Moore head the company and inherit the unusual desk, more about that later, used by his father when the elder Moore steps away from the daily operations of the firm that develops and manufactures devices for communication between control centers and remote instruments in large processing facilities. “I wanted to be ready for when the day comes,” said Nick Moore, who sold his South Bay spa business three years to work for his father. For now, the father isn’t going anywhere. Leonard Moore still has fun running the company. Yes, he takes more days off, spends much of that free time remodeling a second home. But this is also the man who nearly two years ago, at the age of 73, earned his pilots license. He now takes to the air in a restored Ercoupe model 415D prop plane. Getting the license was on the list of things Moore wanted to do, a list that, for his business, includes reaching a goal of $50 million in revenues and continuing its growth through acquisitions. The former is an amount the company is approaching although Moore coyly won’t say how much more money needs to be earned. The latter is a strategy that takes work away from competitors and adds to Moore Industries’ offerings to clients in, among others areas, the petrochemical, mining, and pharmaceutical industries. For instance, the purchase in 2005 of the coupler and fieldbus power supplies line of Hawke International (now called MooreHawke) furthered the company’s digital capabilities. In 2002, Moore took over the instrument division of Powers Process Controls to expand its line of controllers. The reputation of Moore Industries instruments is such that customers are willing to take the time to meet with one of its representatives, said John Capitano, who reps Moore products in Southern California and southern Nevada for Patten Systems Inc., in Huntington Beach. Moore also creates goodwill in the industries it serves with custom designs. “If you have a problem or a challenge they will take a look at it,” Capitano said. Desk has a history Leonard Moore has a spacious office with a window with a view of the Moore Industries machine shop across the street. The whoosh of jet engines from Van Nuys Airport two blocks away interrupts conversations. Forty years ago, Moore worked out of tighter quarters in an industrial area on Orion Avenue near Roscoe Boulevard. From that office he watched the building of the 405 Freeway. There, Moore worked with a partner, sharing a slab of wood set atop two filing cabinets. But not just any wood separated the two men; it was a door from the office belonging to a decal salesman next door. Moore referred to the desk as an heirloom and Nick Moore let out a chuckle when asked about whether he would eventually take a seat behind it. In the ensuing years since the door was removed from its hinges, oak trim has been added as was a doorknob that doesn’t turn. “You can tell I used to smoke,” Leonard Moore said, motioning to the burn marks on the wood. That’s not the only wear-and-tear the desk demonstrates from the four decades since Moore left a position at Ronan Engineering to go into business for himself. Over those years, control center instrumentation evolved from pneumatic (air) operated to electronically operated; from analog products to digital. That Moore Industries started at a time of increased use of integrated circuits proved beneficial for the young company because of the type of stable instruments they made. When measuring temperature and mass and flow the last thing that’s wanted is a drifting instrument. “Stability is the key,” Leonard Moore said. That goes as well for the company’s leadership. As a high school and college student Nick Moore spent time at the family firm during summer vacations. His daily contact there decreased for the 13 years he operated his spa business. After a stint in purchasing, the junior Moore was promoted to vice president of strategic planning, a position in which he reviews and evaluates the workings of each company department to improve efficiencies. Aware of the offers larger companies make for Moore Industries Nick Moore said he likes that the firm is one of the last privately-held manufacturers in process automation When it comes time to make the same decision his father has faced many times, potential suitors should expect the same response. “His wish is for my brothers and I to run the company and I will continue to honor that,” Nick Moore said. As for that meeting request from the Midwestern automation company whose name is spelled out in big red letters on its letterhead? Leonard Moore puts the letter to the side. “I will tell them they don’t have enough money.”

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