RUSSIA — While 2018 was a year of investing in the future for Superior Aluminum, 2019 saw those investments bear fruit in new opportunities. The internal processes and channels to market that were updated the previous year resulted in significant new activity.
As he heads into his fifth year at the helm, company president Doug Borchers said of 2019, “In many ways, the Superior Aluminum we enter into in 2020 looks much different than just a few years ago. A lot of these differences are exciting, while some provide challenges which we are ready to meet head-on.”
His report continues:
Personnel was one big hurdle to overcome during the year, as a number of skilled veteran employees retired, including our long-time shop superintendent after 44 years of service. Five other retirements took place involving key employees ranging from 25 to 45 years of service with the company. Replacing all of that experience and knowledge continues to be a challenge.
Most importantly, we are blessed to have so many dedicated employees, and each of them have earned their retirement. Superior Aluminum wouldn’t be where we are today without them. Now we have to dig deep to keep operations running smoothly, and thankfully our team has done an outstanding job withstanding the loss of so many valuable members of the organization.
In last year’s update, we discussed working with national specification software companies to get Superior Aluminum included in more construction project specifications. In 2019 this paid off, with requests for quotations from new customers rising significantly, including many specs being written with Superior Aluminum Products listed as a preferred manufacturer. This increased our customer base at a significant rate, and made it easier for architects and contractors to utilize Superior Aluminum railing. Elsewhere, Superior has partnered with online bid platforms to further extend our reach. These offer contractors an easy way to collect bids on products for their projects, and allow manufacturers to create relationships which would not have existed before.
Further focus was placed on determining how to better serve Superior customers in 2019, and one success in that was an expanded network of preferred installation partners. Several independent contractors throughout the Midwest have been trained, and now install Superior Aluminum railing on large construction projects near their location per that training. This network of trained installers allows Superior to offer General Contractors an installed solution, easing the burden on the GC and providing superior customer service.
2019 also saw an expansion in the Superior Aluminum product family. A new privacy railing product was introduced, which utilizes panels to block views of HVAC units, dumpsters, or spying neighbors. All of these initiatives resulted in an extremely busy second half of the year, with sales up double digits over the prior year.
More new products are on the way in 2020, as Superior launches new innovations to a notoriously frustrating-to-work-with building product for home builders. This exciting new family is set to launch mid-year, and is much anticipated by those involved in focus groups. Another 2020 initiative includes extending our preferred installer network into other regions. Finally, some existing products will be re-engineered to make them more efficient to assemble and appealing to customers.
Superior was proud to have grown their United Way contributions by another 35 percent in 2019, demonstrating a workforce that truly cares about others. This is the fourth straight year in which Superior employees have increased their contributions.
2019 brought significant change that will affect us moving forward. We are very excited for 2020, and believe we have a great foundation in place for the future.