|The booth at the NAFEM (North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers)
Trade Show for Table Logix, a wholly-owned subsidiary of ProLam Products Inc., displays
its variety of products and options.
Started in 1995, ProLam Products Inc. was initially a department within another business, manufacturing plastic laminate component products, casegoods and tabletops. However, the Indiana-based company has — and continues to — broaden its horizons by diversification and mass customization, while continuing to serve the OEM customers it always has.
“In the last two to five years, we have really started to look aggressively at what we have as far as facility, equipment and capabilities, and where we can utilize what we have and find new markets and new products to make that will complement what we do,” says company President Tom Ancona. “We had to find a market to pursue that would not compete with our [OEM] customers.”
“ProLam is basically two companies under one roof,” adds Vice President and National Sales Manager Troy Stuart. “Fifty percent of our business is OEM, work surfaces and components for office furniture manufacturers. The other 50 percent of that, we sell products to end-users and dealers in the hospitality sector, restaurant and dining hall furniture.
“When we give our reps and our dealers our catalog, we tell them it is just a guideline,” Stuart continues. “I think that is really what has made us so successful in this market is the diversification and the ability to do big quantities, but also be small enough that we can do the custom jobs that are going to help us get the bigger jobs.”
|Table Logix, a wholly-owned subsidiary of ProLam
Products Inc., furnished this military dining hall at
Fort Jackson, SC.
A Meeting of Minds
At the core of ProLam is the partnership between Ancona, who brings a manufacturing and OEM background, and Stuart, who came to the company in September 2007 from the hospitality industry.
“[The company] looked for different markets, and finally I got hooked up with Troy,” says Ancona. “Troy said, ‘You guys have set the standard for making tabletops. That is exactly what they use in restaurants. Why don’t we start a restaurant line and offer your product, along with additional products, to this market?’”
“We had a real synergy together, because he had the facility to do it in, and I had the contacts in the hospitality industry and also in OEM,” says Stuart. “It really was just a natural match. The biggest thing that he hadn’t done yet when I came here was diversify.
“In the hospitality market, and even in the OEM market, you have to have your mind opened up to what different things you can do,” Stuart continues. “Just because you bought that CNC to do round tops with doesn’t mean that you can’t do trapezoid tops with it too. You have to think outside the box. With Tom, I’m not afraid to bring him a project. I know we’ll sit down and hash it out. We go into it with that lightbulb over our head going, ‘OK, there’s some dollars to be made here. How can we do it?’”
“You have to have a partnership,” adds Ancona. “It takes 100 percent cooperation between a guy in marketing and sales and a guy in manufacturing. You have got to have those two sides together.”
ProLam Products utilizes a variety of CNC machinery,
including this Weeke machining center from Stiles Machinery.
ProLam Products plans to keep itself vertically-integrated for its current customers, as well as to attract new ones. The company uses a variety of CNC machinery, and Production Manager Darrell Dale is a vital part of getting product out the door as well. “[Our customers] are able to come to us, get everything on one truck, and know the finishes are going to match, from the chairs to the tabletops to the casegoods,” says Stuart. “They know it is going to show up on-time and if there does happen to be any problem, they have only got one person to contact to get it solved, versus ‘who’d you buy the table from’ or ‘who’d you buy the tops from?’”
“Tabletops are what we started doing, but now I think it is just part of what we do,” says Ancona.
“For so many years, ProLam was known as where you went for tabletop components,” says Stuart. “We don’t want to be painted with that stroke anymore because of all the different stuff we do. We want to be known as a package manufacturer.”
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