Renowned as an industry innovator, this global leader in the production and marketing of skin health and hygiene solutions for commercial use found itself in a bind.
The company’s hand sanitizer dispensers, considered an industry reference, had been sourced in China – until the production status quo was dramatically interrupted by a seasonal influenza outbreak. While these occur from year-to-year, this particular epidemic led to a sudden and sustained surge in demand for the company’s hand sanitizing systems. It was a spike, on steroids. And the repercussions reverberated straight down their supply chain.
The customer was forced to rush overseas production. Punishing – and accelerated — air freight expenses led management to rethink sourcing options. Costs had to come down, and fast. Yet production quality AND delivery times could not be comprised, given the company’s brand heritage and dedication to quality.
U.S. injection-molding was seen as a possible solution. But (a) wouldn’t that be even more expensive and, (b), which company to select?
THE SUSSEX IM SOLUTION:
Enter the Sussex IM team of Keith Everson, President & CEO; Ed Fabiszak, Sales Manager; Jim Naatz, Project Engineer and William Pfister, Tooling Manager. The combined tenure of the team exceeds 90 years.
The customer agreed to meet the team and visit the Sussex facility, where they would learn more about the company’s suite of services. This includes custom injection-molding solutions that are second-to-none, honed over three decades of industry experience.
Explains Everson, “For us, molding is where it all starts, and molding is in our company’s DNA.” Everson was one of the first engineers Sussex IM hired three decades ago. He ran engineering and sales before becoming president and his family owned a tool-and-die business. “In order to make a good injection molded part,” he says, “you have to start with a good mold.”
Sussex IM has all the latest automation technology and lean manufacturing practices. One side benefit of lean manufacturing is plant cleanliness, which impressed the prospective customer’s team during their walk-around. In addition, the visitors noted the company’s staff of automation engineers – automation is designed and built in-house.
Recalls Tooling Manager Pfister: “We showed them what the system was going to look like, right on the shop floor. We knew how many operators we’d have, their placement, how it would be assembled.
“Their tools were great, the molds were fine. Our cycles were twice as fast as the Chinese.” The cycle speed also caught the eye of the customer team, Pfister says.
Adds Project Engineer Naatz: “Our design-through-distribution approach with our Six Sigma capability ensures optimal process outputs. By bringing their team here, they could see exactly what we wanted to do, and how we proposed to do it.”
In terms of the quotation process, Sussex IM utilizes a detailed review with built-in checks and balances across functions. Explains Sales Manager Ed Fabiszak: “We ensure a quality outcome for ourselves and our customer. We examine every angle of the process. And we ask the tough questions. So we are prepared for any eventuality.”
THE SUSSEX IM SUCCESS STORY:
“When you look at the total delivered cost – U.S. versus Chinese production – the Sussex IM solution is a very attractive proposition,” says Sales Manager Fabiszak. “Offshore labor costs keep sneaking up, and air freight remains exorbitant. We’ve aggressively reduced our costs while in other parts of the world, costs continue to rise.”
The Sussex IM team won the assignment. The company built new tooling for the myriad product SKUs and began manufacturing, pad printing and assembly in the U.S.
Onerous overseas air freight costs have been eliminated and the expense of rush orders and excessive lead times has been slashed.
In addition, the transfer of production to Sussex IM unlocks opportunities for this customer to sell to domestic customers that require Made In USA sourcing, such as government institutions. The future demand spikes that are sure to follow, whether caused by seasonal illness scares or other short term phenomena, are covered.
Even more important is the service, support and overall assurance provided by Sussex IM sourcing. In terms of logistics, the company is within easy travelling distance of its customer. “Easy access is important to the relationship building process, as is the fact that we can get everything we need right here: a tool, texturing, engraving, repairing,” Fabiszak adds. “We can get it done, quickly and efficiently, right here. And the quality is built-in.”
Concludes President and CEO Everson, “For custom molding and assembly, we showed them that our company, here in Sussex, Wisconsin, is the low-cost provider of choice – and that our skilled workforce, in combination with our lean manufacturing techniques and institutional knowledge saves money, time and headaches.”
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Sussex IM is now an ongoing supplier for this industry innovator, as future generations of hand-sanitizing systems are developed.