Indianapolis Woodworking Inc. is expanding its operations at a time when some manufacturers are wary of making improvements until the economic downturn reverses itself.

Founded in 1990, the Fishers, Ind., company designs and manufactures custom millwork, casegoods and cabinetry for commercial customers throughout Indiana and Illinois. Products range from paneling and work stations to conference tables and reception desks.

Cynthia Hauth, founder and president, attributes the growth to the company's location and diversified marketing. "Indianapolis Woodworking is located in one of the fastest-growing areas in the Midwest, where the commercial construction market is vibrant," she says. "IWI also serves the greater Chicago area, where new construction, especially health care facilities and schools, are experiencing growth."

The company markets it products to various industries. "Right now hospitals and new building headquarters, as well as entertainment, provide numerous opportunities," Hauth says, adding that repeat customers appreciate the company's AWI Quality Certified products.

Grant supports training

To facilitate its growth, IWI recently sought and received a $29,500 grant from Indiana's Skills Enhancement Fund. "Growing our operations in Fishers allows us to continually compete for projects," Hauth says. "We appreciate the state's assistance in our continued growth in this community."

The grant money will be used to provide its workforce with supplemental training in lean manufacturing techniques, computer skills, computer-aided design and other areas. The company plans to add 10 to its current 50-plus employees.

"Woodworking requires specialized skills and working knowledge of manufacturing processes specific to mill shops," Hauth says. "Although many of our new employees have experience in manufacturing, some skills do not transfer to our industry. Technology is also changing, and it is important to maintain a skilled workforce to allow IWI to grow and prosper"

Hauth says recruiting potential employees has been difficult at times. "We also have to train employees on the equipment used in our manufacturing processes specific to our industry," she says.

In addition to adding and training employees, the company plans to upgrade equipment and make other improvements to its 40,000-square-foot facility. "Machinery continually needs to be upgraded to maintain functionality," Hauth says. "Saws, veneer presses, edgebanders and material handling equipment must be maintained, upgraded or replaced over time."

IWI needs to meet or exceed construction industry safety standards and other requirements, and it often participates in LEED projects. "We are currently working on obtaining FSC Chain of Custody certification so that more opportunities are available to IWI in supporting environmentally sound building practices now and in the future," Hauth says.

More products, services

The company doesn't have specific plans to expand geographically beyond Indiana and Illinois, but it continues to offer additional products and services to its customers.

"In the past two years we have partnered with a commercial casegoods box manufacturer," Hauth says. The partnership has assisted IWI with expanding its product base and provided more opportunities to offer a complete package to its customers.

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