Finally an answer to that age old argument—is it the people or the equipment that make a good plant and product?

HIT THE JACKPOT

Earlier this month, Eric Fletty and I had the opportunity to visit a rotary and flatbed cutting die manufacturing plant in the Charlotte, N.C., USA, area. This particular plant services the corrugated packaging industry in the eastern half of the U.S.

We were honored to spend several hours with Clint Medlock and Darrel Griffin, hearing the history of the company and touring the facilities. If this wasn’t good enough, we hit the jackpot when they asked us to go to a customer outing later that evening. This particular outing included a tailgate extravaganza and Monday Night Football between the Charlotte Panthers and the New England Patriots.

I know what you are thinking, but we seriously had no idea that this was part of the agenda when we scheduled this corporate visit.

Medlock’s words say it best: "I am sure you noticed the thing we are most proud of is the staff of people we work with every day. We can purchase all of the latest high tech equipment, but without the best people, it’s just a waste of money."

You may remember the name of this company from a Travels with Larry a few years ago. Roger Dooley, one of its key sales professionals, was responsible for setting up a visit with a Pratt Industries box plant.

BUILD A GOOD REPUTATION IN HIGH SCHOOL (you never know who may be watching)

The genesis of Stafford Cutting Dies goes something like this. In the 1980s, Medlock was the plant manager of the Charlotte branch of Jamison Steel Rule Die. Griffin started working for them in June of ’85, fresh out of high school. He continued working for Medlock until joining the army to serve his country. After serving his country and graduating from college, he moved back to Charlotte in ’98. An opening came up with Stafford Cutting Dies (owned by Medlock and Tony D’ Aprile). Stafford Cutting Dies had purchased the Jamison Steel Rule Die Charlotte branch in ‘93, and the rest is history. Today, there are actually two separate companies—Stafford Corrugated Products and Stafford Cutting Dies.

Stafford Cutting Dies is unique in the sense that it has figured out a way to service its customers, nine hours away, as good as or better than the local competitors (according to its customers).

WHERE THERE’S A WILL THERE’S A WAY

Stafford Cutting Dies’ marketplace is only limited to how well it can service customers. So in this case, it has achieved a higher level of service by opening another service and repair facility in Reading, Pa. The company has come up with a very nice answer to a logistic puzzle by having drivers who leave Charlotte and Reading at 1 a.m., meet half way, swap keys and provide delivery as far as Connecticut before 2 p.m. the same day.

CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT

"Our sales representatives are not donut delivery personnel, they are technical consultants. Their calls don’t end at the front desk. They go on the plant floor to actually watch and observe what their customer’s needs are and offer suggestions on ways to improve their processes," Griffin says.

To stay connected to the next big thing, Stafford has joined in with "Inspirere Innovations," a collaborative industry group dedicated to coming up with and developing new die making and die cutting innovations to improve the processes for the industry. Two of the innovations include:

  • The TopMatrix™System, comprised of a matrix sheet affixed to the surface of the cutting dies in sections or in full coverage—"an innovation that provides clear cut results"
  • The Proden TrimSaver™ System that allows rotary die cutters to reduce their trim size down from ½-1/8 in. (you can contact Guy Earley at 704-821-6330 for details of the benefits of using these products).
 
In the photos above, Griffin shows Eric Fletty some of the features of the Stafford Collection.

More information about Stafford Cutting Dies is available online.

More information about TAPPI is also available online.

There are two types of people in our industry—TAPPI members and those who should be.

Until next time.......................
Larry