|At Laminate Works, each employee plays an important role in the quality control process. President Bert Clothier says the people that work for him are one of the most important parts of the company.|
|Both facilities feature cutting-edge technology, such as this Gabbiani rear load beam saw from SCM Group USA. Thanks to technology, the company can keep customers happy with high-quality and repeatability.|
Not Satisfied with âSatisfiedâ
According to Clothier, Laminate Worksâ customers are its best form of advertising. Therefore, he takes a strong stance on customer satisfaction and quality.
âI canât stand the word âsatisfied.â To me, satisfied is a âC student,â average, medium, okay, lukewarm, all of those words I donât like. I want our customers to be elated. I want them to be excited.â
Clothierâs approach to customer satisfaction is a sure step toward success. Despite the troubled economy, Laminate Worksâ sales have been up the last few months when compared to the prior year period.
âIn our industry, as well as most industries, they say that thereâs three things that control the decision: price, service and quality,â Clothier explains. âThose are the three things that can make the decision and you can only pick two. For us, we chose to pick service and quality, and focused less on price.
âThat was kind of dangerous in that youâve got to be competitive, and I think we are, but typically weâre not the cheapest resource,â Clothier adds. âWeâre much more service and quality driven.â
It comes as no surprise that maintaining high expectations of quality is a key part of that strategy.
âWe have the same quality issues everybody else has,â Clothier explains. âBeing quality driven doesnât mean you have a perfect product. It means that you respond to it when it happens.â
Everyone that works on a part or panel has responsibility in the quality control process. If there is an error, it is used as an opportunity for everyone to learn from it.
âFor me, if we make a mistake, Iâve got to look at that as a good thing, because youâve learned something,â Clothier remarks. âIn our organization, youâve got to say âWell what are you going to do the next time so you donât make that same mistake again?â Thatâs the single best quality measure weâve ever put in.â
Technology is another strong component of quality â and consistency â at Laminate Works. The company has remained on the forefront of technology.
âWe have invested heavily in machinery, both in Kansas City and Dallas. Pretty much everything we have is cutting-edge technology,â Clothier remarks.
Both facilities utilize automated glue lines from Black Bros. to laminate the panels. In the Kansas City facility, panels are cut on either a Schelling rear load beam saw or Holzma (Stiles Machinery) beam saw. Also from Stiles, is a Homag BAZ contour edgebander/machining center and a Homag KAL straight line edgebander. The Kansas City facility also utilizes a CMS nested-based machining center, a Topmaster PLC T-moulding machine and a Midwest Automation throughfeed postformer. Most recently, the company purchased two slatwall machines for its Kansas City facility.
In addition to the Black Bros. glue line, the Dallas facility features a Morbidelli Author machining center, Gabbiani Galaxy rear load beam saw and Stefani straight line edgebander, all from SCM Group USA Inc.
âA customer might request a handful of parts one month, and then order more of the same two years later. The right equipment can mean that the parts fabricated years from now will look just the same as the parts made today,â he adds. âThatâs where the automation really pulls together.â
Blue and Black and Seen All Over
Over the years, Laminate Works has tried many avenues for advertising to varying degrees of success. The strongest form of advertising has been the customers.
Clothier says the companyâs sales force also has been instrumental in building the business. The companyâs sales force, strategically located throughout the Midwest, has helped to build the companyâs brand in the woodworking industry and beyond.
Additionally, trade shows have provided the company with good opportunities to tell its story to specific market segments. âGoing to the trade shows makes it easier for the sales people, and I think the customers gain confidence in us in that we are supporting those different trade shows,â Clothier explains.
It does not hurt that the company has a striking logo that stands out and is recognizable.
âEverything is blue and black; our logo is very strong. When weâre doing our trade show booth itâs all blue, black and white,â Clothier says. âI think weâve done a good job of communicating who we are, and at the same time built some visual identity recognition.
âWeâve not only developed a company, weâve created a brand, and I think weâve worked pretty hard to brand Laminate Works so that as we go into other markets, we donât have to define ourselves every time,â Clothier adds.
About Laminate Works
Kansas City, KS
Founded in 1999, the company produces laminated panels and component parts. As a âsolutions company,â Laminate Works partners with its customers to eliminate bottlenecks.
1. Laminate Works makes only components and no finished products, opening it up to a wider range of customers.
2. Company President Bert Clothier does not want his customers to be satisfied; he wants them to be âelated.â
3. The company uses state-of-the-art technology to ensure quality and consistency every time.
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