King Products and Services Inc., in Summerville, S.C., has increased the size of its plant from 24,000 square feet to 69,000 square feet to accommodate a larger inventory of finished goods in order to better service clientele with shorter lead times.
Summerville, S.C.–Last year wasn’t exactly a hotbed for company expansion in any industry, but that didn’t stop Jim King, owner of King Products and Services (KPS), Inc., from increasing the size of his firm’s plant from 24,000 square feet to 69,000 square feet. “Despite the economy and the industry conditions we felt it was time to grow our physical location,” said King. “It was an out-of-pocket investment that’s definitely paid off.”
The move was largely driven by the need to store more inventory, namely finished goods, in a business climate where lead times are extremely short. With more room to store those goods, King Products and Services would be better equipped to quickly fulfill customer orders and claim its spot as the “one stop shop,” provider of unfinished and prefinished stair treads in a full range of up to 32 domestic and exotic wood species.
King Products purchases roughly 2 million board feet of lumber annually to keep its pipeline full in upper grades of 4/4 and 5/4. In North American Hardwoods, in addition to Red and White Oak, the company purchases Walnut, Maple, Ash, and Hickory.
King Products and Services’ revenue has increased from $4.19 million in 2009 to an approximate $8 million in 2012.
Also, KPS wooden stair treads are offered in these exotic species: Cumaru, Goncalo, Ipe, Andiroba, Santos Mahogany and Sapele. Other products manufactured include unfinished flooring transition pieces and shoe molds.
Being able to inventory ample supplies of each of those products helps keep King Products ahead of its competitors. “In this market you really have to be able to meet or exceed lead times if you want to get the order,” said Johnny Cooper, the firm’s lumber buyer and sales manager. “By combining that ability with our quality and customer service, we’ve been able to grow significantly over the last few years.”
So while many Hardwood firms were scaling back and laying off workers to offset sales decreases, 53-employee King Products watched its sales grow from $4.19 million in 2009 to an expected $8 million in 2012. “We’re putting all of the profits back into the company,” said King, “in order to stay on the growth path while continually improving our customer service and quality standards.”
Founded in 2000, King Products got its start in the custom stair tread business. When that industry shifted and as the demand for custom work dried up, King and his team began producing more unfinished mouldings, shoe molds, transition pieces and related products. Just about 90 percent of those products are sold to U.S. flooring distributors. To reach those customers, King Products relies on the talents of Cooper and a 3-person, customer service department.
A full range of up to 32 wood species totaling 2 million board feet is purchased by King Products and Services. In North American domestic Hardwoods, the company prefers upper grade in Red and White Oak, Walnut, Maple, Ash and Hickory.
The firm’s plant – which is run by Don Hay, plant manager – operates on a single shift for most of the year and on two shifts during the peak season. Recent additions to the plant include a new Mereen-Johnson 524 optimizer and a Weinig upcut saw. The former allows King Products to achieve better yields from its lumber. “We used to run straight lines with regular saws,” Cooper explained. “Using the optimizer, we can increase our yields by moving the blades around without having to remove them.”
The firm’s new upcut saw replaces a largely manual system that was used to prep materials for stair treads that are cut into 36, 42, 48 and 54-inch segments. “What used to take a week or more now takes three days or less with the upcut saw,” said Cooper. “Our plant productivity has increased significantly as a result of that investment.”
A member of the National Hardwood Lumber Association, the National Wood Flooring Association, and the Stairway Manufacturers’ Association, King Products prides itself in being able to remain on the cutting edge of its industry and being agile enough to meet customers’ constantly changing needs. To stay ahead of the curve, Cooper said the company’s management team reads magazine articles and scours the Internet to find out what competitors are doing.
That competitive intelligence has paid off for King Products, which has managed to not only survive, but also thrive, in an extremely difficult economic environment. Credit the firm’s “one stop shop” philosophy with stoking at least some of that growth.
Modern technology enables King Products to provide clients quick turnaround in products. A Mereen-Johnson 524 optimizer and a Weinig upcut saw are among the many models of machinery and equipment used by the company.
“We’ll keep our eye on the prize and keep plugging away, just like we have been for the last few years,” said Cooper. “Between the volume of product that we stock and our keen attention to customer service and quality, there just aren’t a lot of companies that can compete with us right now.”