Inside Saint Louis Closet Co.’s Manufacturing Process
Saint Louis Closet Co. has made their manufacturing factory a central component of their showroom experience. After spending 18 months renovating a 30,000 square foot building, owner Jennifer Williams wanted her manufacturing front and center.
“I put an 11’x10’ window between my showroom and shop so customers could see their closets being made right here in St. Louis,” Williams said. “With so much manufacturing being shipped overseas, having a local company bringing manufacturing in-house is something to celebrate.”
When you walk into the showroom at Saint Louis Closet Co., one of the first things you see through the viewing window is their two HOLZMA HPP-300/HPP-380 Panel Saws.
Homeowners can watch sheets of thermal fused laminate (TFL) being fed into one of the two state-of-the-art HOLZMA Panel Saws to be cut into all the various components that will eventually be installed in their homes. Once the material has been cut to size, it’s taken to one of the two HOMAG EDGETEQ S-500 Edgebanders to be finished.
When Saint Louis Closet Co. first opened its doors in 1991, the manufacturing facility was squeezed into half of a 500 ft. building. Jennifer and her single employee did their best with the tools they could fit into that space, but very quickly realized they’d need more specialized equipment and more room if the business kept growing.
As soon as she found a building large enough for her growing business, Jennifer knew she needed to upgrade her manufacturing as well. Stiles has been there every step of the way as Saint Louis Closet Co. has expanded. Three buildings later, the shop now takes up half of a 30,000 ft. building.
“Having these Stiles machines here in the building is central to what we’re doing. By having state of the art, reliable, precision machines, I can make sure all our customers are satisfied. If issues come up on one of our jobsites, my installers can just run back to the shop to get whatever they need. It’s not like we have to ask our customers to sit around and wait six or eight weeks while we order their parts from China.”
But the changes at Saint Louis Closet Co. haven’t just been as a reaction to growth. “I’m always trying to improve our product,” says Jennifer. “The industry is changing, and I want to make sure we stay on the cutting edge of innovation, rather than playing catch up.”
The recent change she’s most excited about has been the conversion to thicker edgebanding. “Until a couple of years ago, we were using the same edgebanding we’d been using since we started. It was about a half a millimeter thick. And it was fine. But I started to realize that switching over to thicker edgebanding would allow us to give our customers a higher quality product. We settled on one-millimeter thick edgebanding, and I love the results.” The thicker edging makes the shelves and panels more durable which is important since Jennifer has always insisted on offering a lifetime warranty on every closet her company installs.
Never one to do things halfway, Jennifer decided that the great edgebanding change-over was the perfect opportunity to replace the existing edgebanding machines as well. “They’d served us well for over a decade, but it was time for upgrades all around.” However the physical constraints of more than a century old building that houses her manufacturing did provide some challenges for new, larger equipment. Stiles was able to special order a right hand feed bander to work alongside the standard left-hand feed to maximize the floor space and workflow efficiency.
Both machines are identical in every way with the exception of one feeding backwards from the other, allowing both machines to face each other. This allows them to utilize the same common floor space between the two machines and still advance the workload in the same direction.
Williams said, “Stiles was great to work with. It would have killed us to take both of our edgebanders offline at the same time, and they really understood and respected that. Without their expertise and coordination, the upgrade process could have been hugely disruptive….instead Stiles made it seamless.”
Today both new HOMAG EDGETEQ S-500 Edgebanders are vital components to Saint Louis Closet Co.’s success in manufacturing higher-quality products more efficiently than ever before.
Article provided by Saint Louis Closet Co.