A tradition of quality
Building upon its long history of manufacturing excellence, Chapin Manufacturing, Inc. aims to become a market leader in the retail and industrial sprayers and spreaders space
Chapin Manufacturing, Inc. is able to trace its roots back to the 1880s, when it started as a hardware store in Oakfield, New York. Following a move and an evolution into compressed air and hand sprayers, over the next 100+ years the company continued to grow its business, until today, where we find it as a manufacturer of backpack, hand, deck and wallpaper, pest control, industrial, construction, cleaning and degreasing, and slide pump and cart sprayers, in metal, stainless steel and polyethylene. Furthermore, it is the only manufacturer of metal compressed air sprayers to offer a 12-step, computer-controlled Tri-Poxy® coating process, resulting in corrosion and rust inhibition on all interior Chapin aseams, welds, crevices, bottoms, and walls.
As Jim Campbell, President & CEO began by detailing, progress for Chapin continues, and since it was last featured in Manufacturing Today, it has maintained organic growth at a rate of five per cent to nine per cent annually, as well as making a strategic acquisition. “This was a custom blow molding company in Elyria, Ohio, and was part of our strategy to move into larger sprayers,” he noted.
Having mentioned the larger sprayers, Jim went onto point out that Chapin launches between five and ten new products a year, and its regular flow of innovative designs and products are what helps to keep the company winning market share. “We have a full research and development department as well as a test lab, and we often have two dozen or more projects at various stages at any time at Chapin,” noted Jim. “One fact that people probably don’t realize is that we have a full-time physicist on staff.
“We take what we do very seriously and customers who are looking for new and innovative products know to partner with us, because we aren’t in the business of tossing on a different brand name and changing the color of a 20-year-old product and claiming it is new and approved. We want to bring real improvements in functionality and costs.”
This dedication to new product development has to be supported by a modern and efficient manufacturing set-up and Jim confirmed that continuous improvements are made on the shop floor as well. “We constantly accelerate our manufacturing by designing and building new and novel equipment and processes, and automating older, laborious processes – this is very important to our business as we stretch to reach our customers’ price points,” he added.
The wide range of products available from Chapin mean that the company’s team has to possess an extensive knowledge of various materials and techniques, in order to get the best out of resources and processes. “At the very core of what we do manufacturing wise, we are plastic processors first and foremost and secondly sheet metal manufacturers,” said Jim. “We are experts in blow and injection molding. These processes are the mainstay for most of our products and we continue to expand our capacity in these areas.”
Alongside regularly investing in new machines and support equipment in all of its facilities, Chapin is expanding its operations too. “As we continue to grow we need additional space, and we also want to make sure we have a presence in different parts of the country to better serve our customers. In total, we now have well over one million square feet of manufacturing and warehousing space throughout the United States,” Jim explained.
One state that is seeing Chapin’s growth first hand is Kentucky, where the business has purchased the former Eagle Manufacturing factory in Mt. Vernon. “Logistically this facility meets the needs of several key customers while providing a great manufacturing location,” clarified Jim. “The Mt. Vernon site will continue to align our capabilities with our customers’ needs. We have also invested in six additional blow molders this year, the smallest being a dual eight-pound machine and the largest a dual 40-pound machine. Mt. Vernon continues to position us for growth in both lawn and garden as well as custom molding.”Chapin b
Another factor that is at the top of the agenda for Chapin’s facilities is a wider remit to care for the environment and to this end the company is ISO 14001 certified – the international standard for environmental management systems. “We are very proud of this,” Jim emphasized. “Our headquarters are located in Batavia, New York and are situated on well over 100 acres. This acreage includes wetlands, hardwood forests and open fields with a waterway running through it. The majority of this area has been declared a wildlife management area, and we have nesting eagles, herons, fox, mink, beaver and a host of other wildlife. From the Shareholders and the Board of Directors down to the newest person hired, the environment is of great concern to all of us and we work at making it better in every way we can. We try to be the best stewards that we know how.”
Having mentioned some of its American operations, it is worth noting that Chapin’s reach extends much further than the shores of the United States – the company serves customers worldwide and now has various international activities. “We were actually the last sprayer company to go to China, but since then we have adapted to the global economy and now have joint ventures in mainland China, as well as our own facility in Batam, Indonesia,” Jim commented. This plastics plant is the newest addition to the Chapin family and was built from the ground up, partnering with a long-time colleague. “We have been able to install the latest in injection molding and robotic equipment here and we are also doing some of our electronics work on this site,” added Jim. “This operation has gone very smoothly, and we are already looking to expand this facility. Batam has wonderful people who are eager to work and move ahead.”
This last point is especially pertinent, as when talking about his staff, Jim believes that the people side of the business is one of the most important foundations for success. “I know it’s a cliché and overused, but people truly are our most important resource. Without good folks, you don’t have good ideas or the ability to execute them,” he stated. “We have a lot of great people with technical expertise in manufacturing and engineering. Those people are training the next great generation of manufacturers.
“At Chapin, we have been on a growth trajectory for the last 16 years without a miss, and success does breed success. So, we look for people who have been successful in the past and want to be part of a winning team. I know from my previous years in sports, winning is a lot of fun!”
Having spoken both about the company’s impressive sustained growth trajectory and the importance of its team, another topic came to the fore which has implications for both of these areas. The Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 has challenged all businesses, and Jim believes that the essential nature of manufacturers hasn’t quite been acknowledged alongside the other essential industries such as healthcare providers, farmers and grocers. “During a pandemic Chapin ceveryone rightly recognizes those sectors, but if you look at any news article it almost always has a picture of someone spraying disinfectant. So, while that tow motor driver, packer or shipper isn’t the first person you think of, they are also essential in combating Covid-19,” he highlighted. “For us, as with all businesses, it was a mass adjustment. We have people around the clock sanitizing the facility. We have people working from home and minimizing all social contact where we can. We set up the medical screening for everyone coming into the building. Nearly all of sales travel came to a stop. Having facilities in four states, means four different realities to work around. Through it all, we continued to provide essential products to our customers. We didn’t pick winners or losers, and we tried extremely hard to fill everyone’s order as best we could.”
As encouraging news of vaccines continues to hit the headlines, there is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel for today’s manufacturers, and Jim and the Chapin team can focus again on their plan to grow the organization’s market share and enter new markets. “We are on target to be twice the size we are today in 2025,” confirmed Jim. “It is a very simple formula that keeps us moving forward and it is no secret to anyone – we focus on Quality, Delivery and Cost. If you are number one in all these categories you will be number one in your industry. It is this unwavering discipline to be number one in each of these three critical areas has kept Chapin in business and growing for 135 years.”
Chapin Manufacturing, Inc.
Products: Manufacturer of sprayers and spreaders