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Making it big with made in America

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6. November 2013

Adams Manufacturing’s aim is to make Made in the U.S.A. “more than just a sticker.” Dan Stainer, director of marketing and business development at the Portersville, Penn. custom injection molder and supplier of resin furniture to leading retailers like Lowes and Wal-Mart, told Plastics Technology that the company has found a successful niche in domestically made goods, large machine capacity, and the de-commoditization of key products.

How successful is the niche? Stainer said the company has completed its sixth consecutive year of revenue growth, topping $50 million in sales, with 2014-2015 looking strong enough that the company just installed a new Cincinnati Milacron 2600-ton Maxima Servo injection molding machine.

That machine joins 30 others at Adams (29 of which made the same 5-hour drive from Milacron in Batavia, OH), and is the eleventh machine with clamp tonnage above 1500 tons. “A lot of shops talk about, ‘Look how many 500-ton machines we have,’” Stainer joked, “well we eat 500-ton machines for breakfast.”

Founded in 1976, Adams Manufacturing divides its business between products it sells directly to OEMs and retailers, including plastic furniture, Christmas items (hooks for wreaths and lights), and suction cups, for which it is one of the largest manufacturers in the world, as well as custom molding. While it has always taken on custom jobs, it only recently formalized that business, creating the website: www.custominjectionmolding.com, among other steps.

The new Milacron machine will serve the existing business, molding larger items like a chaise lounge, for example, while also giving Adams the ability to take on bigger molding jobs. Stainer said the machine features a long clamp stroke, ample daylight and spacious tie bar clearance, allowing room for over-sized tools, including stack molds. The servo-powered machine’s 60% energy savings were also appealing to Adams. The company recently completed the installation of two additional material silos, giving it 13 to house the 25-50 million lb/yr of plastics Adams processes, according to Stainer.

Avoiding commoditization
Molded furniture, like any good, is available in varying degrees of quality, with Adams positioning its products in the upper tier. Still, when your customers are Big Box retailers, pricing pressure is relentless. In order to remain competitive while offering a differentiated product, Adams has tapped a core value.

“We have a theme,” Stainer said, “’Celebrate American ingenuity.’ Make a more comfortable chair; something that has gotten the attention of our retailers. Many, like Wal-Mart, have committed to made in the U.S.A. products. If we can get made in the U.S.A. products, it will make our customers happy, and the icing on the cake is they get one that’s better quality than they can find elsewhere. “

One of Adams flagship products is its Adirondack chair. To avoid commoditization, the company added several features, including patented lumbar support and safety grip feet, as well as a variety of UV-stabilized colors.

“When you take a commodity product and make it better,” Stainer said, “the retailers sell more, so I think we’ve done a really good job of adding features to these products to make them more appealing to the market; they’re certainly a step up from the competitive products.”

Those efforts have also given Adams a step up on its competition, particularly overseas. “We’re in the right place at the right time,” Stainer said, adding that the company is getting a lot of interest from existing and new retailers.  “We produce in America; our machines are American; the resin we buy is American. It’s more than just a sticker.”

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