Stevens Makes a Case for Mass Customization
By Karen Koenig | Posted: 07/04/2011 12:00AM
Stevens Industries’ Casework division manufactures laminated and veneered casegoods for the educational and healthcare markets. LEED compliant, Stevens’ panels are certified under SCS and CPA environmental programs. Stevens also offers FSC-certified products and is certified as an AWI premium-grade manufacturer of casegoods. Above: Cullman High School, Alabama Whoever claimed large panel processors and/or high production casegoods manufacturers couldn’t handle the demands of custom work, hadn’t met Stevens Industries.
The Teutopolis, IL-based company helps define the term “mass customization,” both in its role as an OEM supplier of laminated panels and components to companies in the office furniture, store fixture, cabinet and closet industries, and as a manufacturer of laminate and veneer casework for the educational and healthcare markets. Stevens President Todd Wegman says the combined strengths of the company’s two divisions enable it to provide all of the wood-based production for the job.
“Our goal is to be a value partner — to be the best solution for the customer,” he adds.
Vertically integrated, Stevens produces the panels and components for its casework in-house; the company also has the capability to fabricate solid surface material. Pictured is a reception desk manufactured for the Samuel S. Gaines school in Florida. “Our commercial casework product line offers over 18,000 models, including dimension variants and custom designs,” says Randy Thoele, vice president of operations. “Due to this large variation in product, we produce very little stock in our lean manufacturing process.”
On average, Stevens produces 600 to 650 cabinets per day, plus an additional 12,000 to 15,000 component parts. Business ramps up in the summer months due to the cyclical nature of some of its business segments, such as the educational market.
Wegman says the company’s ability to mass produce customized products gives it an advantage over foreign companies when competing for jobs. However, he is quick to add, “We are seeing new competition from U.S. companies that have had to develop custom capabilities because they faced foreign competition.”
Being a vertically integrated company though gives Stevens an advantage over competitors, Wegman says. “With the ‘Stevens Advantage,’ we can provide customers with an efficient turnkey system: panels, cabinetry, countertops, millwork — one-off as well as standard sizes — from a one-stop source,” he adds.
About the Author
Karen KoenigKaren M. Koenig has more than 25 years of experience in the woodworking industry, including visits to wood products manufacturing facilities throughout North America, Europe and Asia. As Editor-in-Chief of Woodworking Network magazine (formerly Wood & Wood Products), Karen’s primary responsibilities include spearheading the writing, editing and coordinating of the editorial content of the publication, along with the Red Book resource guide and the Red Book online source and supply directory (RedBookOnline.com). She is also a frequent contributor to other Woodworking Network online and print media. She can be reached at email@example.com or Google+.