Chicago based MULTI ELECTRIC is one of the oldest airfield ground lighting companies in the world, having started operations in 1917 – more than 100 years of expertise with a clear focus on quality.

In our “People Series” we talk with the people behind MULTI ELECTRIC, still today a key AGL player on the US market and part of OCEM Airfield Technology.  MULTI ELECTRIC is fully compliant with the Buy American Act, manufacturing its products in Chicago. We caught up with MULTI ELECTRIC’s Production Manager, Italian born Francesco Russo.

Francesco, can you introduce yourself? 

Francesco Russo at MULTI ELECTRIC Chicago

Francesco Russo: I am 32 years old, born and raised in a small town in Southern Italy. At 18, I moved to Bologna to study at the University. After earning a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Management Engineering, I was hired by OCEM. Initially as a Materials Planner, then as a Production Planner for 3 years.

After this experience, the company gave me the opportunity to move to the United States and become the Production Manager of MULTI ELECTRIC in Chicago.  I consider myself as a dynamic person as I always like to take on new challenges in pursuit of improvement and growth.  At the moment, after getting accustomed to the US culture and lifestyle, my focus lies on getting rid of my Italian accent…

Can you introduce your current role?

Francesco Russo: In addition to the standard production activities like managing the production team, planning, ensuring the on-time delivery and the quality, I have worked on the new layout of the factory, on the redesign of all internal processes and on the ERP implementation.  I also continue working on our technology transfer.  Additional new OCEM LED products are scheduled to be implemented in our manufacturing facility. 


Can you tell us a bit more about the production set up and what you produce in the US?

Francesco Russo: At MULTI ELECTRIC we produce all airfield ground lights for US commercial airports and the military, a segment of the business that MULTI ELECTRIC has enjoyed for a long time.  Our production teams are divided into manufacturers and assemblers. Our fabrication and machining shop manufacture critical parts that cannot be outsourced. Our assembly team members work in newly and ergonomically designed workstations, substantially reducing assembly times and eliminating duplications in the quality inspection areas, downstream. Besides our core team, we often employ temporary workers depending on workloads. All the people in the workshop report to me.

What are the key milestones you have focused on in 2020?

Francesco Russo: This year we are focused on a series of 5 initiatives we set for ourselves to achieve:

  1. Achieve On-Time delivery performance in some of the products that were lagging behind a bit.
  2. Factory layout updates including Assembly and Testing: implement new production assembly lines and a material handling system in accordance with lean manufacturing practices.
  3. ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning): implementation of our new company-wide ERP system.
  4. Internal workflow and operation processes: reorganization of certain processes, internal communication flows, and documentation
  5. Full remodeling of the factory and the office spaces.

Why should US-based customers select MULTI ELECTRIC’s products?

Francesco Russo: I don’t have to think long about that, our best promotion is the great quality of our products.