MBX Systems

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Company: MBX Systems, Libertyville, IL
Entry Submitted By: SS|PR
Company Description: MBX Systems designs and manufactures custom server appliances for software vendors who deliver their applications pre-loaded on optimized hardware systems for easy deployment. Named Quality Magazine’s 2012 Quality Plant of the Year, MBX provides engineering, manufacturing, hardware branding, inventory management, global logistics and other services to customers in over 40 industries.
Nomination Category: Individual Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Woman of the Year - Industry

Nomination Title: Jill Bellak, President and COO

Describe for the judges the activities and accomplishments of the nominated woman since the beginning of July last year (up to 525 words):

As President and COO at MBX Systems, Jill Bellak has been a linchpin in several critical business transitions that have fueled a sevenfold jump in annual revenues over the last decade. The latest – in October 2012 – was a move to a former Motorola building that required $3 million in remodeling alone but that quadrupled the company’s physical space, octupled the size of the plant floor, and will boost revenues by an estimated 30% in 2013.

In her 14 years at MBX, Jill has been instrumental in steering the company away from reselling PC components to instead focus exclusively on building custom OEM server appliances for enterprise software vendors such as CA Technologies, Cleversafe and British Telecom; defining target vertical markets for the OEM business; identifying services to differentiate the company from competitors; driving a major investment in custom-built manufacturing software with advanced features to optimize quality and efficiency; and much more.

In 2012, when MBX reached near-capacity in its existing building thanks largely to those strategic decisions, Jill initiated a discussion about expanding the company’s physical capacity by arguing that the tight space was hampering the ability to continue growing. The executive team weighed two options: moving sales and administration personnel to a second facility that would divide the company into two locations, or taking the far more expensive and riskier route of moving the entire operation to a new building.

Jill lobbied for the more aggressive “move everything” option – in large part because the extra space and the opportunity to add amenities like greater electrical power would enable operational improvements that would increase plant output and drive profitability. The team agreed, and the resulting bold expansion move is paying off as she predicted.

The larger manufacturing floor and more modern building infrastructure, for example, have enabled MBX to create new “Super Cell” work areas that are shortening the final stages of the manufacturing process by up to 80%. That in turn has increased the number of servers that MBX can build from 5,000 to 20,000 per shift, allowing the company to serve more customers as well as fulfill larger individual orders.

As a result, the number of systems manufactured in the first year in the new MBX facility is expected to jump at least 35% compared to the previous 12 months. MBX is also taking advantage of the additional space to attract new business, both by adding products and services and by making a better impression on customer prospects.

Jill foresees leveraging MBX’s new space to implement a series of additional changes that will continue to pay growth dividends for many years to come. She is helping drive those changes in her roles as manager of the company’s directors of engineering and operations, the-buck-stops-here new hire interviewer, and chief cheerleader for a culture of continuous improvement. Her vision is a major reason why MBX was the sole recipient of Quality Magazine’s 2012 Quality Plant of the Year award) and is one of the fastest-growing appliance builders in the business.

Provide a brief biography of the nominated woman (up to 125 words):

Jill Bellak is President and COO of MBX Systems, a designer and manufacturer of made-to-order server appliances for enterprise software vendors whose products are used in settings ranging from media broadcast operations rooms to corporate data centers. She joined MBX as VP of Sales and marketing in 1999, was promoted to COO in 2006, and became president in 2012. She has played a key role in building the company from a supplier of computer components to focus exclusively on server appliances. She holds a BA in Business Management from University of Illinois at Chicago.