Situated across the street from global manufacturing giant Procter & Gamble, West Chester's Rite Track Inc. has "very quietly" become the largest manufacturer of track equipment in the United States, says Tim Hayden, the firm's president and CEO.

"In plain English, we make the machines that are used to make computer chips. We provide everything to support the tools including installation and repairs. Our technical staff upgrades and calibrates customers' electronic components and assemblies," Hayden says. Another major component of Rite Track's production comes from remanufactured parts used in photolithography and cleaning processes.

Since relocating the company from California to West Chester in 1994, the company has experienced "phenomenal" growth, Hayden says. This location is the third expansion for Rite Track in West Chester and there are plans for another expansion next year. "As others come and go, we seem to be one of the few companies who continue to grow even in the industry downturns." Rite Track, in fact, is ranked by Deloitte & Touche as among the 50 fastest-growing companies in the Tristate.

Hayden grew up in the Cincinnati area and didn't feel comfortable raising children on the West Coast. Since he moved the company to West Chester, Hayden has made Rite Track a family affair.

Hayden's father, Tom, is director of administrative services for Rite Track. The elder Hayden is a prominent member of the West Chester community, as a former superintendent of Lakota School District and one of three Union Township trustees.

"I have a ball working with my dad," Hayden says. "He oversees all the health care, all the HR issues, all the legal stuff. He and his staff take care of all the policy manuals, the benefits, the drug cards. I don't have to worry about that. I can come in every day and focus on the business end of it."

Community leaders have taken notice of Rite Track's achievements and the growing high-tech industry in Butler County. "I am fascinated by the contrast between Rite Track and its neighbor across the street, Procter & Gamble," says Melissa Koehler, director of economic development for West Chester. "Both are doing business globally, both are expanding, both are enjoying the advantages of a skilled labor market and high-visibility location. But one is a Fortune 100 giant, and the other a father-son empire in the making."

She calls Rite Track "West Chester's version of the Energizer Bunny."

As Hayden sees it, "there's a lot of business reasons to move here: cost of labor, cost of land. Out in California people tend to job-hop every couple of months. It was very hard to have a trained work force, and out here things are more stable, we have a loyal, dedicated work force."

Half of the 150 worldwide Rite Track employees work on million-dollar semiconductors in the corporate headquarters. Factory technicians and field service engineers boast more than 400 years of direct track experience.

Rite Track employees are on call 24 hours a day. If a machine goes down on the West Coast at 2 a.m., Rite Track can be immediately notified and a part will be shipped out that morning. Some of Rite Track's more notable clients include IBM, Motorola, Intel, and Phillips. They also do business in Europe and Asia as well as North America.

Rite Track isn't all business, however. The company owns two stock cars that race at the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky. Rite Track technicians and engineers work on the cars and act as the pit crew. "We have fun, but we also use it to raise money," Hayden says. "We donate the prize money we get to several charitable causes like Make-A-Wish Foundation, Cancer-Free Kids, Ruth Lyons Children's Fund, and Juvenile Diabetes. Each one of those groups gets 25 percent of our winnings."

The track system (computer chip-making) industry grows at an average of 17 percent a year and Rite Track is positioning itself to keep growing with it, Hayden says. Rite Track has a contract with Tokyo Electron Limited (TEL), the world's largest producer of track equipment, to remanufacture one of its older product lines.

"We feel the industry is going to continue to grow and we need to continue to grow with it. The biggest thing is that we want to strengthen our relationship with TEL. We want to grow our relationship and take on more of their products. We're currently negotiating a multi-year deal with them and that would be big for us.

"We know what the customer wants," Hayden says. "We've taken over a market that didn't exist 10 years ago. IBM and Motorola would have never considered buying remanufactured tools, and now I don't think they would consider buying new ones."