RUSSIA — While 2017 was a year of identifying continuous improvement projects to advance Superior Aluminum efficiencies and capabilities, 2018 capitalized on both those efficiencies. Following his third year at the helm, company president Doug Borchers said, “We really dug in with our heels in 2018 to set the path moving forward. The projects we undertook definitely had their challenges, but have set us up for a momentous 2019.”
Continuous improvement has been the major theme since the day Borchers took over, and 2018 saw two of the largest undertakings to date in that sector. The first saw a dramatic redesign of nearly half of the shop floor to improve efficiency. Dividends were paid immediately, as lead times have dropped on a per project basis. Meanwhile, the engineering department began work on employing new CAD design software from SolidWorks.
Once fully in place, this software will not only enhance designs, it will also go a long way toward maximizing shop productivity. Borchers is thrilled with the progress his team has achieved, but wants to avoid complacency: “The key to continuous improvement is that you are never finished. As the name implies, continuous improvement efforts are ongoing. It’s a journey, not a project, and a journey we’re on indefinitely.”
Borchers’ report continues:
Superior Aluminum started their own truck deliveries on a trial basis in late 2017 as a way to address customer concerns regarding third party freight damage and reliability of deliveries to remote customers. In 2018, the program exploded into a full part of company’s everyday strategy. It became commonplace for two or three multi-day road trips to take place in a given week. With regular deliveries, Superior is able to please a wide customer base, eliminate rework for freight-damaged items, and improve top of mind awareness by showing up in the Superior Aluminum truck regularly as promised.
Influencers for construction projects, namely architects, were well-served in 2018. The team at Superior worked closely with two different national providers of specification software to build tools that make the design and specification of aluminum railing, fence, and columns easy to incorporate into major projects that are designed by architects across the country. With this new inclusion, Superior has seen a dramatic increase in the amount of specifications that list them as an accepted or preferred manufacturer on the project.
Consumers also took a turn in the Superior Aluminum spotlight in 2018. Three new product lines were introduced, including tubular cable railing, horizontal railing, and new panel column bases. More new products will be launched in the coming year, including privacy railing and a new line of PVC columns. Several online brand awareness projects, including the introduction of online sales with targeted distributors, were undertaken in 2018. Superior will continue to dive into the digital age. We see that more and more business is either being done completely online or being initiated online. A major focus of 2019 will be pulling in a more significant piece of that pie.
Superior was especially proud to have grown their United Way contributions by another 11 percent in 2018 over the previous year, demonstrating a workforce that truly cares about others. This is the third straight year in which Superior employees have increased their contributions.
We are eager to get rolling into the construction season in 2019. We feel as if the work we have put in during the past few years has laid a solid foundation to build upon in 2019 and beyond!