Smaller Millwork Businesses Seek Solutions To Labor Shortages and Competing Against Larger Companies
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“Sometimes manufacturing can feel like a battle between David and Goliath. But in the era of automation (Industry 4.0), manufacturers are discovering the advantages to being smaller. Automation technology has leveled the playing field and now smaller means nimble, niche, and for the first time heading in the same direction as the big guys.”
For a smaller company in the woodworking industry such as Advanced Millwork Components and Installations in Lindon, Utah, the move to automating their finishing was a decision based on the costs associated with subbing out their finishing work, and the need for a guaranteed consistent quality finish on their product.
“Typically in a normal week, we’re doing between about twenty-five to thirty thousand (dollars) in volume,” says Rich Thompson, owner of Advanced Millwork Components and Installations. “We were subcontracting all of our spray finishing out of house, and it was costing us an extraordinary amount of dollars per month. We had no control of the finished product, and a lot of times we’d have to send parts back out for a respray” he continued. “What we love about the Mini (Plus) and about Superfici, is that it gives us control of our finishing.”
From a bottom line perspective, taking a look at what he would be spending in subcontracting his finishing work, Rich realized that the costs to his company over a 6-month period at the volume his company is producing, would be about the same as the costs of buying his own automated spray machine from Superfici America. Rich Thompson - “It would have ended up costing us about a hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and we were able to recapture that money by buying our own machine, and it almost paid for the machine in the first six months we’ve had it.”
With a seven man shop, efficiency and operational crossover is crucial, especially in an era when finding skilled workers that want to stay around a while is proving more challenging every year. User friendly automated solutions such as the Superfici Mini Plus, enable low skilled workers to single-handedly manage the finishing process and deliver one hundred percent consistent quality.
The two most common benefits touted by small businesses such as Advanced Millwork Components and Installations, are cost effectiveness when compared to one full-time hand spraying operator, and knowing their quality is at the highest standards, and consistent every run.
Reed Nash, on the Advanced Millwork Components and Installations team for only six weeks, had this to say about his experience with the Superfici Mini Plus: “So I was a little intimidated because it's this huge machine, but I’ve learned it really quick, it’s been really easy even with my limited experience compared with the rest of the industry...not hard to learn, easy to maintain, super straightforward. What stands out to me the most is the consistency. With hand spraying there’s a lot of room for error, but this takes it all out, so you’re getting consistent pieces every time you run them through, which is really great for me because it takes all of the mistakes out of my work.”
According to a recent survey of small businesses conducted by BioQuest.com https://www.bioquestsg.com/post/small-business-productivity-improvement#!, the three most common misconceptions small business owners have when it comes to considering automating their production processes are:
1. This is for big companies, we are only a small local business.
2. It’s going to be costly! I don’t have the budget to do this.
3. My team is too small to do standard processes.
Speaking from his experience as a business owner, Rich Thompson says the decision to automate his finishing process with a Superfici America Mini Plus has proven these misconceptions to be just that, and had this to say to other small businesses like his, “I would say this to any small shop, this (Mini Plus) is a money maker, and this is what you’ll need...because of the space savings this has, we’re able to push out the product a lot quicker, and it has been a big benefit to us. Rich went on to explain the impact the improvement in the quality of his product has had on his customers, “Over all, with the quality of our products going up, our clients have actually been able to see the difference. We’ve recently completed a bunch of paneling on a project, where we did the first office building and the second one, and the architect and even the owners commented how much the level of the finish has increased and they’re very pleased with it.”
Perhaps one of the most telling impacts on his company the decision to automate his finishing process has had, is what it’s done for their confidence after receiving such client feedback. “Obviously that’s going to help us in the future gain more work and more confidence with them, because we have a better product, and eventually our name will get out there that we’ve got a top line finish.”
From our experience as world leading experts in automated finishing solutions, we encourage all business owners, even those with only handful of people on their team like Advanced Millwork Components and Installations in Lindon, Utah, to learn from Rich’s experience, and take a look at the costs and benefits of automating in compared to hand spraying, as you just might be surprised to learn how much sense it will actually make.