Wood Purchasing News


Feature Story


One of Automated Routing Inc.’s woodworking machines is working on moulding that goes around an examination table.
Automated Routing Offers Dependable Service

By Gary Miller

St. Meinrad, Ind.—Since 1993, customers have come to know Automated Routing Inc., headquartered here, as a place to fill routing needs. The family- owned business, founded by Barry Schaefer, performs machining for customers “whether they need 100 parts or 100,000 parts.”

The St. Meinrad large woodworking facility is located just 500 feet from where the Schaefer children grew up. Barry was employed by local factories, while three of his brothers came up through the ranks of Thermwood Corp., located in Dale, Ind., where they manufactured CNC routers.

Barry said, “I started the company in 1993, working out of my garage in Mariah, Indiana. In the early days of the firm, often my mother would run the woodworking machinery in my garage while I traveled on the road trying to drum up business. Later, we built a larger building to house our woodworking equipment because a company in the area heard that we bought a CNC
These are assembled chair frames that the company made that are about to be shipped to a customer.
router and wanted us to help them. Their order was too big for us to handle in my shop so we built a 4,000 square foot building.”

Today, after many renovations, that original building covers approximately 50,000 square feet and is joined by two other facilities, Plant Two and Plant Three, at the St. Meinrad site. Automated Routing Inc. also operates an assembly plant in Ferdinand, Ind., nine miles north of St. Meinrad, which is 36,000 square feet in size. Plant Three, a 41,000-square-foot facility, will soon take over the chair assembly operations currently being housed in Ferdinand.

Automated Routing has 115 employees, 23 Thermwood CNC routers, two Holzma CNC panel saws, plus many other types of modern woodworking equipment. The firm covers all aspects of the manufacturing process from design through the packaging and delivery of the product for their many varied customers.

In the forefront are wood parts for an examination table and in the background is a view of some bundles of Russian Birch plywood that just arrived from Russia
The company operates a CNC machining center and offers detailed routing, cut-to-size, boring, mortising, sanding, toning and shaping of solid wood, plywood, medium density fiberboard (MDF), particleboard and plastic items. The firm also operates a planer, gang rip saw, chop saws and has 50,000 square feet of dry storage capacity.

Automated Routing Inc. takes pride in the sheer number of routers they have available. “If a company has three or four routers, that’s a lot of routers,” Barry said. “But, if they have a machine break down or are waiting on parts, they have to fit a customer’s project in. We have 23 Thermwood CNC routers and are always capable of hitting customers’ deadlines for having their products delivered to them, exactly as specified.

Barry mentioned that the company wants to be known across the United States for being the place to go when a company needs router work done.

Most of Automated Routing’s customers are located east of the Mississippi River. However, new sales leads are being developed in the western part of the United States as well as in foreign countries such as El Salvador, South Africa and Mexico.

This is a view of different styles of chair frames that are about to be shipped to different customers.
“We are looking into possibly starting up an export division,” Barry said. “Overseas customers haven’t seen the types of jointers that we make. They can put the furniture together, but they can’t make the products we are making,” Schaefer said. “Automated Routing was built on word of mouth and a solid reputation.”

The company originally manufactured products for the television industry. Later they decided to make components for the manufacturers of upholstery furniture (including residential and office seating), kitchen cabinets and caskets.

In their manufacturing process, Automated Routing Inc. uses many different species of solid wood and plywood, as well as MDF, particleboard and plastic material. The firm specializes in Russian Birch plywood (BB/CP grade and many other grades, ¼-inch through 1 - ¼-inch thicknesses, in 5-foot by 5-foot sheets); Poplar/Gum Mixed plywood (framestock grade, ¼-inch to 1 - ¼-inch thicknesses, in 4-foot by 8-foot sheets); imported plywood (SSOB grade and many other grades, 3/8-inch through 1-inch thicknesses, in 4-foot by 8-foot sheets); and Southern Pine plywood (CCX grade, ¼-inch through 1 - ¼-inch thicknesses, in 4-foot by 8-foot sheets).

A woodworking machine is set up.table.
As vice president of the company, Barry oversees everything that goes on throughout the whole company whether it has to do with sales, shipping and/or quality. He also handles the trucking for his firm and has been known to load and drive a delivery truck to bring products to customers.

Besides Barry Schaefer, other key employees include: Scott Schaefer, who is president and in charge of preventive maintenance, and, he’s one of the largest shareholders in the company; Derrick Schaefer, who manages the plant; Evan Schaefer, who is in charge of purchasing and tooling; George Schaefer, who handles electrical and computer maintenance; Justin Schaefer, who is in engineering and in charge of the company’s safety program; Dave Schaefer, who handles preventive maintenance; Lisa Schaefer, who manages the office; Sherri Rickelman and Ashley Fischer, who are both part-time clerks.

The original building Automated Routing Inc. had was 50,000 square feet, and it is joined by two other facilities called Plant Two and Plant Three. All three buildings are on the same tract of land on the outskirts of St. Meinrad, Ind.
Barry pointed out that every employee is key to the success of the company. “Without their combined team effort to get products in and out the door for our customers, we wouldn’t be successful,” he said. “Another key person is my wife, Tina, for putting up with me.”

Due to Schaefer’s increasing responsibilities, New Albany, Ind.-based Parrot Williams Wood Products LLC, which is owned by Bill Collings, now helps bring in new customers.

“They can send a salesman to North Carolina, Wisconsin, Illinois and many other areas to find out what our clients need,” he said. “Sometimes, customers get serviced a lot better and quicker when Parrott Williams Wood Products LLC calls on them, because I wear ‘too many hats’ here to talk to them at length to see what they need.”

This is one of Automated Routing Inc.’s delivery trucks being loaded at the dock.
Automated Routing Inc. co-owns a trucking company called Automated Transportation, which operates 17 trucks and 48 trailers. The firm also owns 11 forklifts, a semi-truck and two box trucks for its own deliveries.

For more information, contact Barry Schaefer at barrys@automatedrouting.com or visit www.automatedrouting.com.

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