After a successful corporate career, Daniel Claypool purchased Merric Millwork and Seating when its previous owners decided to retire and sell the St. Louis-area company.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to run my own business,” Claypool says. “I also see opportunities in various markets with unique products that can set us apart from our competition.

"Assuming ownership of Merric was a nice fit for me after having worked in supply chain management, sales and customer service for Furniture Brands International and Whirlpool Corp. for almost 25 years," he says. "While there, I learned the ins and outs of the furniture manufacturing industry and how to develop a world class sales and operations plan for a $1.5 billion company. When the opportunity to purchase Merric presented itself, I had the experience and was excited to make the move.

“We make all of our products, which include custom architectural woodwork, millwork, upholstered booth seating, custom cabinetry, tables, podiums, point-of-purchase fixtures, deco walls, solid surface and plastic laminate countertops and toilet partitions,” Claypool told CabinetMaker+FDM. “Our customers are general contractors and national customers in the hospitality, restaurant and other industries.”
Clients includes IHOP, Old Chicago restaurants, Marriott, Marriott Courtyard, Red Robin, Casino Queen, many other hotels. restaurants, and universities.

Claypool plans to broaden his customer base in the healthcare, education, cosmetology and casino industries, and upgrade the company's design software and technology to further streamline the manufacturing process. Since taking over as owner in December 2012, Merric's revenue has increased by 20 percent over the prior year.

“We have an advantage where we can provide millwork, but also seating and furniture, fixtures and equipment products as a ‘one stop shop’ for our customers. Many times the customer needs to go to two or three suppliers to get what we can provide as one supplier. We are also large enough to deliver volume pieces for our customers, yet small enough to be a high-end, custom shop.”

Merric employs 40 people and fabricates all its products in its 50,000 square-foot, manufacturing plant in Bridgeton, Mo.

“We’ve set up the shop to ensure the materials and labor are optimized to deliver on our projected efficiencies,” Claypool says.

“We have a state-of-the-art facility with a CNC, beam saw, edge bander, and other advanced equipment.

“We have two state-of-the-art finishing booths and a team of three, highly-qualified finishers that allows us to deliver custom finishes and match any color our customer(s) request. This is one of our competitive advantages. We also have our own installation crews and service teams.

“We use lean sigma techniques to streamline every process within manufacturing and within the office. This continues to be an area of focus for us today and tomorrow. We always look for opportunities to simplify our processes, then automate them. We are currently looking into some software packages to help the through-put of our front office processes.

All cabinets are constructed with a rabbet and dado joint, then glued, stapled and screwed. Cabinets and casework are constructed to AWI Custom Grade standards using substrates with balanced panels for all doors, drawers and finished end panels.

Heavy-duty, ball bearing, full -extension drawer slides are standard on all drawers. Blum European-style pocket hinges are standard on all cabinets. Toe kick bases are constructed of plywood rather than particleboard. Wood veneer is only used on solid wood to provide a uniform appearance.

“Our 2013 business has been favorable over 2012’s numbers,” Claypool says. “We expect to exceed our 2012 numbers and are projecting 2014 as a good year. I believe several industries are on the edge of expanded growth and we will be ready for that.

The political landscape will always be a challenge in our business. In addition to that is getting qualified cabinetmakers who understand the process to build high-end, quality products.

“As part of my DNA, I am always planning for the future. This planning includes (what we are doing) and looking at other industries and opportunities that are seeing significant growth. You may be seeing us in other venues.”

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