Arkansas Manufacturing Gets Mixed Revenue Bag

Arkansas Manufacturing Gets Mixed Revenue Bag
Rick Carpenter, CEO of Central States Manufacturing Inc. of Lowell, with Donna Leger, President.  (Brooke McNeely Galligan)

2012 produced a mixed bag of results for the six Arkansas manufacturers on this year’s 75 largest private companies list. Half were up, and half were down.

The revenue changes ranged from a 14.3 percent increase at Vestcom International Inc. of Little Rock (ranked No. 40 among private companies with revenue of $216 million) to a 30 percent decrease at Allens Inc. of Siloam Springs, which sold four of its plants in early 2012 and ended up at No. 23 with revenue of $420 million in revenue.

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“We see an uptick in our overall market,” said Rick Carpenter, CEO of Central States Manufacturing Inc. of Lowell. “We were kind of flat in the first quarter, but we’re seeing a 10 percent increase of shipments.”

Sales at the employee-owned venture totaled $257.3 million in 2012, a one-year 1.9 percent decline. The metal components maker is working to roll out by year’s end a new product line: a commercial architectural roofing system.

In February, CSM opened a new plant in Hartford, S.D., west of Sioux Falls. The new facility marks the company’s sixth regional plant. Operating with a startup staff of 25, the project serves a 250-mile radius in the upper Midwest.

Central Moloney Inc. of Pine Bluff (No. 65 with revenue of $105 million) experienced a 12.5 percent decline during 2012.

“When things are this tough, we’re proud to have these numbers,” said Chris Hart, vice president of human resources and quality assurance. “It’s primarily a price-driven market with very little lead time.”

The company, which produces electric distribution transformers and components, reduced its head count by about 100 (20 percent) during 2012.

“Our business will never return to what we consider normalcy until we see housing starts return,” Hart said. “Everyone in our industry has gotten creative since the real estate crash, but that doesn’t mean it’s been easy.

“There has been some slight consolidation but none among the heavyweights. The majority of us have been preparing for the inevitable rebound. Those of us that come through it will be stronger for it. By 2014, we’re hoping the pendulum has swung.”