During an economic slowdown, most companies tighten their belts by laying off employees, spending less on advertising and cutting back on major purchases. Top 40 Woodworks is not like other companies. While most companies are reactive to situations, Top 40 Woodworks is proactive.
“We don’t just react to changes in the market – we anticipate those changes and put the pieces in place for future growth,” Manager Kelly Glanzer states. “The last few years, we’ve experienced growth during the economic downturn in anticipation of the turnaround. When things are going good, people are too busy to plan ahead because they’re dealing with the work they have now. We’re always looking ahead and we’ve been able to hire some really great people during the bad times.”
Top 40 Woodworks practices what Glanzer calls “passive growth.” That’s where the company keeps the balance of projects even and avoids peaks and valleys. It also involves generating repeat clients. “Because we have such a diverse focus, we can balance the workflow,” he says. “We’ve been able to maintain consistent employment and recently, we’ve been in hiring mode.”
This balanced workflow is a combination of residential and commercial millwork with commercial work driving the bulk of the company’s sales. This work ranges from the production of retail stores and restaurants to hotels and professional office environments. Governmental and large scale institutional work such as the development of airports, schools and hospitals continues to play an important role in the promotion of Top 40 Woodworks as a leader in the industry of commercial millwork supply.
Manufacturing a Hit
Glanzer calls the company’s production line a “living creature” because it is always changing due to the diversity of products being produced. The manufacturing process starts with a meeting with the client.
Top 40 Woodworks discusses the client’s wants, needs and pricing. Once all the decisions are made and the details necessary to the successful completion of a project are in place, shop drawings illustrating these details are signed off on by the client/contractor and the whirlwind of production begins.
Materials are purchased and delivered to the plant where they begin their journey through the various arms of production beginning in the machining bay and, from there, going where they are needed to receive custom machining and assembly, a particular specialty finish or just a simple sanding and a coat of lacquer.
A walk on the floor of Top 40 will reveal all kinds of different products from a variety of materials in any number of the different forms. This diverse array ensures the company can give customers exactly what they are looking for.
Contributing to this process, Top 40 Woodworks recently purchased a spray line with a curing room that dries painted products in about an hour and releases little to no volatile organic compounds. This process makes for a higher quality finish and has greatly increased the company’s volume of production.
Once the product is dry, it is put through a quality control check and is moved to the shipping department. The product is then palletized, delivered and installed by one of the company’s installation teams that are governed by a project manager. The project manager remains with the client/contractor to answer questions and to ensure expectations were met and, ideally, exceeded.
A System for Success
Top 40 Woodworks continuously strives to improve upon its processes by examining the different components of production separately.
“We break down the pathways to simple production and look at certain events that may have presented challenges,” Glanzer says. “Then we try to make those events a step in learning how to be a better company, an ever-improving company. We’ve even taken a look at some of the lean production techniques employed by Toyota and integrated some of those ideas into our system.”
When Glanzer takes a step back and looks at Top 40 Woodworks, what makes him most proud is the culture the company has created.
“I love my job,” he exclaims. “It’s a fun place to be. Our success is tied to the people who work here. [President Jack Mendes] has empowered the people here. Instead of lording over everyone, he lets us do our jobs and I treat it like it’s my own company.”
He adds that employees actually enjoy spending time together and even hang out on the weekends participating in fishing derbies, barbecues and ski trips.
“Our philosophy is to go hard at the problem, not on the people,” Glanzer says. “I think you need to have a system in place for success. You need to depend on that system for success, which typically leads to our people delivering successfully.”
By installing systems where employees thrive and enjoy their time at work, Top 40 Woodworks believes it has created the right formula for success.