Maintaining a five-day turnaround policy is a tall order for any fabrication company, but when you multiply that by 12 locations in four states it becomes nothing short of amazing.
“We keep that schedule whether we are busy or not,” says John Beiersdorfer, president of Sims-Lohman, a cabinet and countertop company based in Cincinnati.
“If we’ve been given all of the necessary information we are going to be back in five days or less to install that job. So if we see heavy volume in say, Columbus or Indianapolis, we will sometimes look to our other operations to support work that is out of their area.”
The takeaway here is that, somehow, the company will find a way to keep its promises. “It comes down to the attitude of your people,” explains Wade McCowan, Sims-Lohman sales manager for the Central Valley area. “You set the parameters. So if you say you are going to install 20 countertops today then you have to install those 20 kitchens today, even if it takes 24 hours. That’s part of the culture we create.”
Making A Good Company Better
It turns out that culture creation is a big deal for Sims-Lohman, which has adopted an aggressive expansion policy, fueled primarily by acquiring businesses in new markets. Then taking those acquisitions and improving efficiencies, shortening lead times, and improving the customer experience.
“If we buy a granite shop, for instance, the beginning stages would be fixing that shop, making it profitable and taking care of the customer,” says McCowan. “Then we will push it into new markets. We are doing that in Pittsburgh now.”
Sims-Lohman currently has four fabrication facilities supporting eight additional showrooms, totaling more than 270,000 sq ft and expects to bring even more fabrication space online in the near future.
Its more than 300 employees install roughly 1,000 3cm countertop jobs per month (that’s about 50 tops per day), and most projects include a set of new cabinets.
Just before the economic downturn the company began diversifying its customer base from mostly new construction customers to include the high-end remodeling market. That turned out to be remarkably prescient, considering the builder business practically evaporated overnight in 2008.
“The growth has been driven by a good financial position,” explains McCowan. “When the markets turned we did a very good job of knowing where we were and making sure we were the right sized business. Our financial position allowed us to go out and purchase several companies, as opposed to battening down the hatches and waiting for things to come back.”
Cabinets & Countertops
According to Beiersdorfer, the reason Sims-Lohman resonates so well with its customers is that the company offers a high-quality, one-stop shopping experience.
“There aren’t a lot of companies that do both cabinets and granite,” he explains. “We will bump up against companies that compete against us on the countertop side and some that compete on cabinets but very few that do both. The competition is very fractured.”
Beiersdorfer indicates that with all this growth one of the greatest challenges his company faces is finding good people. “Over the last five years we’ve grown by an average of 30% per year,” he says. “Since 2007 we’ve acquired five granite fabrication shops, and we are always looking for additional shops to acquire as well as the managers, fabricators and installers to operate them.”
Want to know more? At Moraware, we make software for countertop fabricators. CounterGo is countertop drawing, layout, and estimating software. JobTracker is scheduling software that helps you eliminate the time you waste looking for job folders. RemnantSwap is a free place to buy and sell granite remnants with fabricators near you.