Horton Brasses has had a very good year. 2002 brought us many challenges, and I think we have weathered them well. In fact, these challenges have made us better at doing what we do.
We continue to grow and last year we maintained our projected 10% growth rate. We are spotting trends that are new and different, and these trends have forced us to make some major changes in how we handle your orders.
In the fall of 2002, we began to hear rumors that Chautaugua, a hardware supplier many large furniture companies used, had moved, been sold, or stopped production. Because I donâ??t pay a whole lot of attention to gossip, I never was sure exactly what happened. Horton Brasses began to get more and more calls from Chautauguaâ??s customers. Their big concern was did we have our hardware in stock? We do, our inventory is a source of pride and we always ship all orders (large or small) immediately. As a result, a very nice piece of the hardware business came our way.
One thing we learned is that some of Chautauguaâ??s customers favor the bright finish. As our orders increased, the demands on our buffing department increased. In June, we invested in a very large dust collector system, one that would handle up to 3 people working. Our previous unit handled one person comfortably and two for a few days at a time, but was really unsuitable for 2 or 3 people buffing day after day. Let me tell you, this new system just about sucks your socks off! Because its motors and collectors are outside, the buffing department is quieter; a nice serendipity.
Summer vacation came and went and as usual, the frantic pace when we reopened made us wonder why we closed at all. We returned to more than 400 web orders, as well as 200 fax and phone orders before we opened the door. Two shippers worked fulltime for 2-3 weeks to catch up, and it was hard, hard work. The entire company was involved in the backlog, but after 2 weeks, we were largely caught up. Our usual ship time is a day or two, so 2 weeks was a very long time for our regular customers.
Since the website is so very productive, we began to experience new demands on our shipping department. We discovered that we had a need for 2 shippers early each week. Monday morning the website delivers a tidy 60+ orders for us, and coupled with our regular business, Mary was swamped due to the hectic pace. We hired a new person, Jose, and his job is to check orders, answer the phone, ship, package large orders, and do as much pre-packing as possible. This has allowed Maryâ??s life to return to a saner pace and we are thrilled with the results. We should have done it sooner.
2003 also was a catalog year. This means that we were busy designing, photographing, and producing our 2004 catalog. It is a huge task and generally takes us about 6-9 months to do a catalog properly. I am very glad it lasts for 3 years! We printed in excess of 35,000 catalogs this run and we hope they will last until sometime in 2006.
Overall, I couldnâ??t be more delighted with the â??stateâ?? of Horton Brasses. We are busy, we are managing our growth with reasonable success and we are all very happy!