Can American manufacturers successfully compete with importers of woodworking components? On my three-day sales trip through the Midwest, I decided to put that theory to the test.
Day Two: Tuesday, 8 AM
Our first stop was at Century Components in SugarCreek, Ohio. Century is a manufacturer of kitchen waste systems in maple and plywood, filler units, spice racks and steam bent wood susans. Century builds a phenomenal quality product line. They use several local suppliers of wood, contribute a substantial amount to their local community and focus on nearby suppliers of hardware and finish.
Like many growing companies, Century has built a good base of loyal customers, but has hit the proverbial sales plateau. They need to add outside sales to help them hit the next level.
Our plant tour started with their steam bending process, then on to the fabrication of their accessories and solid wood trash systems. Throughout the whole tour the quality was paramount. When asked how they handle warranty issues, they were perplexed. Jeff Miller, partner, said, “Well, we’ve never had one, so we guess if it ever comes up, we will take care of it right away.”
After the plant tour, the discussions led to the inevitable questions of delivery and pricing. OnPoint found their numbers and deliveries were right on target, but we were concerned. Century is not a big plant, how do they respond to large orders and spikes in demand? How are they competitive against the large importers and assemblers?
The key to Century’s success is the large amount of similar manufacturers in their home region. By teaming up with other local woodshops, Century can quickly double and even triple their production as the demand requires. The outsourcing to other local shops also allows Century to keep their fixed costs low and the manufacturing in the US.
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