Primewayhas been successful in its niche of serving office furniture dealers, and thecompany expanded into a second manufacturing location only a few blocks awayfrom its Madison Heights, Michigan, headquarters in April 2013.
Office,health care and higher education are the main end users for the company’stables, desks and office products. At the second 28,000-square-foot locationPrimeway is making more casegoods and more flat products. At the main operationthey are doing more custom work.
“Atthe main location it is more reception stations and boardroom tables,” saysKevin Walby, Primeway president. “We’re trying to gear up that second facilityto make more of that flat-panel, casegoods, work surfaces, training tables, andsimple conference tables.”
Primewayhas 26 employees and is continuing to grow. It is also doing more worksurfaces. “We’ve seen a growing need for surfaces with so much refurbishinggoing on these days,” Walby says. “We have embraced TFL work surfaces, whichseem to be a hot commodity with the refurbishers of the industry.
“TFLprovides a good work surface at a little better price point. We’ve set up a standardprogram with refurbisher dealers (also called office furniture recyclers) andthey have 14 colors to choose from, including maple, cherry and woodgrains.”
“Manytimes refurbishers will take existing panel systems and strip them down,repaint the metal, rewrap the fabric on the sides of the panel, but the onething they can’t refurbish is the work surface, which is normally a newcomponent, and one of the lesser expensive components.
“Whenit comes to selling a customer 10 to 100 work stations, it’s the work surfacethat has to be replaced. There’s no way to refurbish that particular part.
Bothof Primeway’s buildings are connected to one server, and the infrastructure is inplace to make things as cohesive as possible.
Primewayliked its first IMA Advantage 500L edgebander so much that when they expandedto a second location, they ordered the exact same model.
Thefirst IMA Advantage 500L was bought in early 2012 for the company’s main location.Walby explained that they wanted a large heavy-duty, durable machine.
“TheAdvantage edgebander is the only major piece of equipment we added here,because all of the other equipment was relatively new,” he said.
“Knowingwe were going to expand into our other building, we held off on any additionalcapital machinery here. Everything was working pretty well.”
Thefirst 500L was given a chance to prove itself with a job for a 90-room healthcare facility. A total of 900 door and drawer fronts were made, and theedgebander worked well on that job.
WhenPrimeway began work in the second location, they bought a second Advantage 500Lalmost exactly a year after the first one.
Walbysees several advantages in having two identical machines. One operator can runboth, so if there is a problem they can look at the other one.
“Certainlythe cross-training of operators on both machines, being able to transferpre-written programs (are advantages),” he said. “When we put the second one inwe took 50 or so programs we had already put into the one machine, just put itinto a flash drive and put it into the other.
“Anotherbig thing we felt was important was the learning curve to get that piece ofequipment up and running. And what I think was a huge value was not having tolearn all the different mechanics and nuances and maintenance on an entirelyseparate machine.”
Theonly challenges for Primeway are keeping everything tuned and running properly.The beam adjusts automatically, it’s not a manual process. “We’re constantlychanging thicknesses and styles,” Walby said. “It’s important for us to have anedgebander that allows us to do that quickly.”
“Ifwe have a mechanical issue on one of them and we have to do sometroubleshooting, we can look at the other one and see what is going wrong, why itis happening.”
In2014 Primeway is also offering a new table line, new casegoods line, and hasconnected with new dealers in Michigan and the southern states. The year 2013was a good growth year, and 2014 can be similar or better.
Futureplans are to move to a single location, maybe in three to five years.
“In2013 we aligned ourselves with some great clients that are also growing,” Walbysaid. “We are working with six or seven new clients in early 2014. We’re hopingto triple our customer base in 2014.”
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