Staub Manufacturing Solutions opened for business in April of 1997. Like all new business, things were slow at first. But we kept focusing on the important values of our business; do the right thing, make quality products and deliver them on time.

In December of 1997 we received a phone call from a local company asking if we could look at a project for them. They said it was urgent and wanted someone to stop by the next morning to see if we could help. When I arrived, they gave me the complete background. This was a brand-new product that had just launched in September and sales were really starting to increase. The problem was their current supplier not only was having trouble keeping up, they were also having a lot of quality issues and a high rejection rate! Frankly, the customer was drowning and looking for a lifeline. They had heard about our quality reputation and wanted to see if we could help them out of this situation.

I went back to the shop, and we immediately began working on a solution. We quoted the project and the customer called us back within 5 minutes of us sending the quote over. They said we were competitive and wanted to know how fast we could produce 10,000 pieces! Business was a little slow at the time, so we were able to start on the project right away. (There were only a few of us at the time. I still remember running the parts all night and delivering them to the customer each day).

As soon as we delivered the last shipment to complete the initial 10,000 piece order, they told us how happy they were with our high quality components, and then they placed another order for 10,000 more pieces! During that first year of production, we made somewhere around 30,000 pieces and that volume continued for several years. I really don’t remember the exact number; that was a long time ago!

A few things have changed over the years with this project. Unfortunately, our original contact passed away about 15 years ago and the company even changed ownership two years ago. One other big thing that has changed on this project are the volumes. Due to the lifecycle of this project, we no longer make 30,000 pieces per year. Today we are only making around 1,500 pieces per year.

However, nearly 27 years later, we still make the part and the part has not changed. Frankly, neither has our focus on making a quality part and delivering it on time. Someday the project will end and honestly, I’ll be a little sad when that happens. Oh, sure we have other projects that we have been running for well over 15 years or even close to 20 years, but this part is different. This part is the longest running part that we have made for a customer, and frankly it was a big boost in business at a time when we really needed it. But that’s ok, even when we stop producing this particular part; we’ll continue doing the right thing, making parts, making them the right way, treating our customers right and doing all that on a timeline that works out the best for our customer.

In the Summer of 2021, we were contacted by a company in the electrical systems business about fabricating some of their products. Since their company’s founding in the mid-2000s, they had sourced their entire product line to China. But COVID had now brought international shipping to a halt, and being solely reliant on Chinese manufacturers had dealt a devastating blow to their business.

Customers were needing their products but this company had literally nothing to sell. They could not even get repair parts to help previous customers. After months waiting on parts to show up, they decided to investigate having their products made in America. As they told us, “It’s hard to stay in business if you don’t have any product to sell.”

Truth be told, even before the crisis caused by the COVID shutdown, they had been facing significant issues with overseas manufacturing. Because of the extra time needed for shipping across the ocean, forecasting was difficult and inventory levels had to be kept artificially elevated to make sure they always had product in stock. They also had experienced issues with inconsistent quality and shipping damage.

The company put together a list of potential suppliers and set-up times for their team to visit each facility. When they came to us, we spent a lot of time with their team reviewing the goals for their product line, then we toured our facility showing them our processes and quality standards. They had visited several other fabrication companies but, in the end, felt that we had the systems in place to ensure the product quality and on-time delivery they needed.

We began producing parts for them in the fall of 2021 and it has developed into a great working relationship. The company no longer has to hold a large inventory of products and, with our reasonable lead times, they have been able to decrease their inventory and increase their cash flow. They also don’t have to order extra parts anymore to make up for fallout due to quality issues. Of course, our pricing is higher than they were paying to have the items produced in China, but they are happy to pay a little more to have a much better sourcing experience and actually have products to sell.

Many U.S. manufacturers have a global supply chain and that can certainly appear to have advantages in terms of pricing. However, many of them are learning the hard way that the overall cost to the company of having items produced overseas can be much higher than the initial savings.

If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of reshoring, please visit the Reshoring Initiative and be sure to try the TCO Estimator!

In 2012 a company contacted us about fabricating some aluminum racks. Their current supplier was causing them a lot of issues. Deliveries were always late, parts had to be reworked during assembly, and product installation was a hassle.

On the surface, the project looked like a good fit for us. The fabricated racks were complex but well-designed and manufacturable, the production volumes were good, and it required processes that were core to our business.

The potential customer stressed two requirements: the product needed to be consistent (high quality every time); and we would need to be competitive on price with their current supplier. Since we have always maintained industry-leading quality metrics and we work hard to be competitive in the market, we were not concerned.

Then they told us that the units were being manufactured in Mexico. We were up-front and told them that our pricing would most certainly be higher than their current supplier but, if they chose to work with us, we were confident that we could eliminate the costly, ongoing quality issues. We both agreed to continue the conversation.

The more we talked with the customer about their goals for these units, the more they kept talking about the need for consistency. The reason for this is that the way these fabricated racks are used by the final customers requires complete interchangeability. The racks are set up in stores in various configurations and occasionally changed out for new ones. When they are changed out, the new rack needs to fit exactly into the same spot as the one that was removed and fasten together without issue. The racks that were coming out of Mexico were not consistent at all. Rack width and height varied and mounting brackets would never line up. A change out would take days and the customer needed it done in hours.

The other major issue for our prospective customer was the lack of on-time delivery. Because of this, they were forced to place larger orders and inventory a lot of extra units just to make sure that they could deliver the units to their customer when they were needed.

The company did end up ordering this product from us at a higher (but competitive) price and when they received our initial delivery, they were thrilled. Not only did we deliver on time, but their assembly staff was amazed how easily everything fit together, saving them a lot of time and hassle.

We accomplished the high level of consistency they were looking for by building poka-yokes into many of the fabricated components and incorporating the use of several fixtures into the welding process. As we moved into full production on these units, we found other ways to improve the process and the product which allowed us to offer significant savings to our customer.

For twelve years now we have been the primary supplier of this product, fabricating thousands of high-quality, interchangeable racks and delivering them on-time. Our customer is now able to maintain their production schedule without excess inventory, assembly is efficient and routine, and final installation is easy and quick as required.