Issue Summer 12
What began with a suction cup has grown into a multifaceted product manufacturer and supplier with a commitment to small-town American values and American manufacturing. Based in Portersville, Pa., Adams Manufacturing puts state-of-the-art technology and a team of employees dedicated to innovation to work on an array of furniture, Christmas accessories, home and office products, bird feeder accessories, step stools and garden accessories.
“I wanted to start a company, and we began with a mold for suction cups,” President and founder Bill Adams says. “I found that I could sell them to stores to hang signs in the window and that hardware stores would sell them to their customers. We started adding different sizes of suction cups with a huge variety, developed the Magnet Man clip, and then we started selling clips and hooks that could hang Christmas lights and wreaths.”
Working out of a three-acre facility that is equipped with labor-saving technologies and provides a great deal of production and warehousing capacity, Adams has more than 250 employees. The company designs and produces a diverse product line that ranges from high-quality suction cups and holiday decorating accessories to stacking and folding resin furniture. Adams says the company is the largest producer of suction cups in the world.
Although in the early days it was difficult to compete with manufacturers based overseas, Adams Manufacturing decided to venture into the development of bigger products. It got into folding resin furniture with a table and also saw opportunities with stacking furniture.
“We got into that market about six years ago at a time when it was very crowded, and now there are only three of us left,” Adams says. “We have the only new designs, and we’ve come up with what we feel are wonderful new features. Our Ergo Adirondack chair is the most obvious, as it is designed with curves to provide lumbar and head support. Our new design has been very well received by customers and clients.”
The company’s ability to manufacture so many different products stems from an open mindset that is focused on looking for better ways to do things and applying new technology to old problems. The company has also invested in computer numerical control (CNC) machine tools, molding machines, robots, automation and material storage and processing, part of a commitment to find ways to increase efficiency.
“We look for shortcomings in product design, no matter how popular the product may be,” Adams says. “If an existing design doesn’t provide the appropriate safety, comfort and convenience, we look to fix that.”
The Adams Manufacturing take on the Adirondack chair is a prime example. An American classic, Adirondack chairs were traditionally made out of wood that was sawed with band saws in straight lines. But the human back needs support, and the head needs a rest. Adams Manufacturing found a way to make an Adirondack chair that it felt was a better option than the alternatives on the market. They are stackable resin chairs that provide better support and comfort for the body. In addition, because resin furniture is made from recyclable petroleum products, it isn’t as hard on the environment as metal or wooden furniture.
“We took a similar approach to innovation with our suction cups,” Adams says. “Previously existing suction cups tended to focus light like a magnifying glass, and they can actually scorch a surface. We patented ways to design and make clear suction cups that can’t focus light.”
Close to Home
Some end-users buy product from the company in bulk, but most Adams Manufacturing products are sold through retailers. Adams says the company sells, or has sold, through just about every relevant retailer north of the Rio Grande River, as Adams Manufacturing has relationships with almost every major retailer in the United States and Canada, and it distributes product in the United Kingdom, Central America and South America, too.
“We have a great relationship with customers because we listen to them and operate based on two rules: first, the customer is always right,” he says. “Second, remember rule No. 1. We monitor the consumer market very closely, and we pay more attention than ever to retail forecasts. That is a vital part of our success, because we can’t afford to have a year with excessive inventory, and we can’t afford to miss a shipment.”
Another crucial aspect of Adams Manufacturing that stands out is its commitment to providing 100 percent American-made manufacturing. Adams says American manufacturing has a lot of advantages. “We’re closer to a huge knowledge base here that allows us talk to people in each sector who are the top of their field,” he says.
There is every reason to believe that Adams Manufacturing will continue to develop new products that it can introduce to buyers. Adams Manufacturing says it has weathered the economic storm of the last few years, as the reduction in disposable income has seen an uptick in people buying resin furniture because of its inherent value as a low-cost, convenient and long-lasting product.
“We are providing products that maximize the value of the end-consumer’s hard-earned money,” Adams concludes.