Originally published in ASI (Adhesives & Sealant Industry) on August 1, 2011
By Susan Sutton, Editor-in-Chief, Integrated Media
After working for a major sealant manufacturer for a number of years, Derek Miller decided to branch out on his own. In 2006, he founded Premier Industrial Supply, Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of products such as Xtrabond sealants, XtraFlash flashing and XtraFoam low-expansion foams. Initially, the company was housed in a 10,000-square-foot space in Phoenix, AZ, and primarily serviced the West Coast building and construction industry.
Business was good for a while, but then the housing market collapsed and the worldwide recession kicked in. “When the economy hit the skids, we went from having multiple housing starts to virtually very little,” says Miller. “We had to branch elsewhere.”
East Coast Opportunities
In 2008, Miller decided to open a distribution point in North Canton, Ohio, in order to reach potential customers on the East Coast. Having grown up in Ohio, Miller was familiar with the state, its economic environment and its people. “We chose Ohio mainly because of economic considerations,” he explains. “There are more manufacturing personnel to be offered in Ohio than what I felt other areas of the country had to offer.”
A focus on the residential remodeling market has helped one sealant manufacturer prosper.Derek Miller
Miller also recognized that a continued focus on new construction would not serve his company well. Instead, he decided to actively pursue the residential remodel market, which was experiencing growth as homeowners decided to hold off on selling during the housing downturn. “No one’s buying new homes; they’re all remodeling,” he says. “That’s really where we’ve made our focus as a company. We do go after new construction, but our big focal point is residential remodel construction.”
That strategy has paid dividends. In fact, increased demand led Miller to shift the company’s manufacturing operation to an expanded 34,000-square-foot North Canton site last year. (Premier Industrial’s corporate facility and West Cost distribution point remain in Phoenix.) The company also acquired several pieces of new equipment, including three high-speed fillers, two manual fillers, a 250-gal mixer, two 75-gal mixers, and a 4-gal mixer. The company can now produce upwards of 500 gal per batch using a combination of those mixers.
Premier Industrial has also developed a complete color department, including a color spectrometer. “We’re taking a paint store approach with sealants,” explains Miller. “Say you want to paint your daughter’s room Barbie® pink and you want the caulking around the windowsill to match. We can make it for you. We’ve found a niche offering colors, and the equipment we’ve purchased gives us the capacity and the ability to go down to a minimum of six cartridges on a custom color. Customers can send in a paint chip or let us know what Sherwin-Williams® paint or Pantone® number they’re using, and we’ll match it.”
Focus on the Customer
Premier Industrial now has 35 employees between the two locations, and each of them is focused on providing quality customer service. “Any customer who calls in is going to get a live person on the phone, not just some recording,” says Todd Barry, Operations manager. “We pride ourselves on customer service, facilitating customers’ needs, and following through with communication up the chain of command to make sure that those needs are handled properly and efficiently.”
The company ships all standard product the same day the order is received, and custom colors can usually be matched and shipped within 72 hours. Miller believes that its ability to be flexible has been a key factor in Premier Industrial’s success. “We are a smaller, growing company and we can adapt to customers’ requests or changes,” he says. “We’re a company that can easily transition and move with market and customer demand.”
We’re continuously investing in the company.Derek Miller
As demand increases, Miller will continue to focus on building Premier Industrial’s U.S.-based manufacturing presence. “We’re continuously investing in the company,” he says. “We’re looking to build a new facility that will be probably three times the size of our current building, and we’ll continue adding people. I’m sure we could manufacture our products cheaper 180 miles south of here, in Mexico. However, I want to recreate manufacturing in the U.S. That’s not too common these days, but we’re going to continue manufacturing in the U.S. and continue to increase our presence in northeast Ohio.”