Northwest: Central States Manufacturing Plans More Regional Plants

by George Waldon  on Monday, May. 23, 2011 12:00 am  

"We have a lot of competitors popping up in the market, and this is one way to help keep some of the business," said Rick Carpenter, CSM CEO.

In 1995, the company started Metal Central, retail outlets that sell metal buildings and metal roofing to contractors and homeowners for commercial and residential projects. CSM has Metal Central operations at its Lowell and Jasper, Ala., locations and one stand-alone facility in Little Rock.

"It's not the first one we have tried, but it is the only one we have now," Carpenter said of the Little Rock store.

The company also runs a growing fleet of trucks, which now numbers 54. CSM transports product to customers on the outbound load and picks up shipments for the back haul to help maximize efficiencies and generate income.

The extra revenue to haul for others is nice, but the main purpose of the CSM fleet is to support the company's just-in-time delivery. CSM turns an order around in two days compared with a week for most competitors.

Carpenter credits this system, started early in the company's history, with providing a framework for success.

"We tried to design our business to shorten the lead time to provide the metal product to the customer," he said. "Our speed to the market and quality of our product really set us apart. We do it faster than anyone else."

CSM is a faith-based company that operates much like a public company. In the case of CSM, employees account for about 40 percent of its shareholders courtesy of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan started in 1992.

Carpenter believes the ESOP helps boost productivity and heighten customer service, an ownership arrangement bolstered by the company's open-book management and share-the-wealth philosophy.

"I think that made a big difference," he said. "You reap what you sow. Everything we try to do is based on Christian principals. We have a great group of people who make the difference."

In 2009, the company started a giving-back program to make it easier for employees to help with civic, community and church volunteerism. CSM donates eight hours of paid time off annually for staffers to schedule volunteer work during business hours.

"There is something that completes a person when they do that," said Leger, who took on the role of corporate president in 2007. "It means a lot to our people."



Please read our comments policy before commenting.