American Maid Plastic Products Inc. has proven domestic manufacturers can not only compete with imports but also beat the market during an economic downturn. The injection molder of Carson, Calif., recorded double-digit growth in 2009 and is looking to expand its operation this year.
When speaking of the success, CEO Moe Vazin believes it's all the basics. We keep our costs down; we try to give customers what they need, he said in an interview at the International Home + Housewares Show, held March 14-16 in Chicago. With no automation employed in the highly seasonal business, the company works harder, fighting for every piece of business.
To illustrate his point, he compared his company's booth with others': Even smaller booths have more staffers. The firm keeps overhead down with three salespeople, including Vazin himself, covering the entire country.
In this business, overhead is everything. We don't have extra layers of people like secretaries and assistant sales managers.
The maker of kitchen storage and tabletop products currently employs 40-60 workers, depending on the season, and runs 10-12 injection presses.
This is a simple business. Keep it as simple as you can. Don't get too carried away, he said.
The keys to keeping such a simple, yet competitive, business is efficiency, quality and consistency, he said. The customer picks [the product] up and feels like they've got a deal. That's where you have to be.
Even though products from Asia can sometimes be a lot cheaper, Vazin noted imports also suffer from issues such as lead time, quality and, sometimes, lack of trust. If you want a good product that's made in USA, you come to us.
He said his customers have been very loyal and supportive, enabling the privately owned business to grow steadily.
In addition to the Made in USA label which he said has become a strong selling point, especially since the recession American Maid also is flexible.
We change our molds and machines as often as the customer would like and take small orders, Vazin added.
The company is looking to purchase a 300,000-square-foot new facility that has the factory and warehouse under one roof, in order to upgrade from its two current locations of 150,000 square feet combined.
American Maid also has partnered with customers on the East coast, in the Midwest and in the South to better tap into the national market. We move the molds instead of products.
Vazin expects the expansion, which will add 25 employees, to be completed this year.
We are excited. We create jobs in the United States.
He stressed his business philosophy: You need to walk like you're on a tight rope and keep your focus.
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