Location: Stanley, NC
CEO: Karl Ruedisser
2009 Revenue: $185 million
Manufacturing: Stanley, NC
Based in North Carolina, Blum is owned by Austrian company Julius Blum GMBH. In 1977, the company's directors sent Karl Ruedisser to Stanley, N.C. to start its U.S. division. Since then, the company has grown from a handful of workers to 370 people who manufacture functional hardware for the kitchen cabinet industry at its 450,000-square foot facility.
Click through the slides as Blum CEO Karl Ruedisser shares the company’s story.
Q: What factors did you consider when deciding to manufacture domestically?
A: Manufacturing domestically allows us to have shorter lead times and to lower transportation costs. It also lets us react quickly to fluctuations in demand. We are able to manufacture parts specific to the North American market. And, being closer to our customers lets us respond quickly to their product needs.
Q: How has domestic manufacturing influenced your organization?
A: We are one of the few manufacturers in the industry that manufactures here. That provides us with a competitive selling advantage and helps keep customer confidence very high, even through a bad economy. It also helps us maintain Blum's image of high quality in the industry.
Q: Where is there opportunity in the market for your products?
A: By continuous product improvement and introducing new product innovations we will increase our opportunities to grow our business as the economy recovers.
Q: What is one of the biggest challenges to growth as your company moves forward?
A: The economic downturn. Our industry is closely related to housing and many of our customers are downsizing, closing plants and/or shortening production work weeks. Asian competition is also a factor but our innovation, high level of service and high quality have kept that from becoming as much of a factor.
Q: What is the biggest challenge to maintaining manufacturing in America?
A: Too many government restrictions and regulations. Second would be the training and developing our workforce (skilled employees) to run and maintain our highly automated production and assembly machines
Q: What is your company doing to promote domestic manufacturing?
A: We have an Apprentice program partnership with seven other manufacturers in the area to develop and train highly skilled manufacturing employees. Many skills such as tool and die making, are hard to find. We offer high school students a chance to work at Blum, learn one of these skills while Blum pays for their college, and graduate with a guaranteed position and salary. We have shared this model with many companies nationwide to help them develop the people they need to manufacture here in the US.
An in-depth look at small businesses that are choosing to keep their business in the states and what that means for their bottom line.