Building a Future for Distributors and Dealers of Building Products

Volume 44,  Issue 4                                        May 2005

Investing in the Future
Millwork Company Owners Believe
In Using New Technology and Machinery
by Brian Welsh

“Being a moulding manufacturer is a hard thing to do in this country today. The market is changing constantly, and in order to provide the quality and service to our customers, we have spent over a million dollars on machinery and technology in the past year.”                                        —Mark Setzer

One millwork manufacturer headquartered in Sacramento, Calif., says it stands apart because of its belief in utilizing the latest equipment and technology. It does so in order to keep its commitment to quality and service and to keep up with the ever-changing millwork industry. 

Setzer Forest Products (SFP) of Sacramento, Calif., was founded in 1927 and is now owned and operated by “third generation Setzers”—Mark, Scott and Jeff. Joining the Setzers in management roles are chief executive officer Mark Kable and plant managers David “Mitch” Stevens and Jack Martin. These company leaders believe that in order to continue to be a leader in the industry, they need to be able to adapt quickly to market demands. One of the ways they do so is by making investments in the newest technologies and machinery.

“Being a moulding manufacturer in this country today is a hard thing to do. The market is changing constantly and in order to provide the quality and service to our customers we have spent over a million dollars on machinery and technology in the past year,” Mark Setzer explained.

In addition to adding new machinery, within the last 10 years the company has also expanded its operations and added a second facility located in Oroville, Calif., bringing the total make-up of SFP to more than 200 employees. It currently runs two shifts per day, five days a week. The Sacramento plant is located on approximately 20 acres and is responsible for the solid lineal, finger-joint and medium-density fiberboard (MDF) products, while the Oroville plant utilizes approximately 25 acres and produces more of the millwork products, including jambs and frames. The products are being produced mainly from blocks, blanks and lumber imported from Chile and New Zealand. 

Look to Change
SFP started out as an agricultural box plant. As the market changed, the company changed its products and services. These now include solid lineal mouldings in domestic and imported pine, solid and finger-joint pine mouldings and millwork, interior and exterior door frames, interior jambs, stiles and more. MDF products, such as mouldings and boards both primed and raw, were added to the product mix in 1999.

“One of the biggest problems we face now is the big runs are coming from overseas. Our business has changed completely over the years. While we still do the big runs, we now find ourselves running a lot more profiles. We specialize in mixed loads with more value added products,” Mark Setzer stated.

As the products changed, the company’s way of doing business changed as well, which, according to the Setzers, led the company to search for what it wanted to provide in the future. Among the machines in which the company invested was the Weinig Powermat 2020. One of the Setzers’ conclusions was that the Powermat 2020 would help the company adapt faster to changing markets. 

Good Machinery Helps
Martin and Stevens did their homework to find the machine that best fit their needs. 
“The Weinig Powermat 2020 enables us to be more efficient and quicker. Since the business now has us running more profiles instead of the big runs, we needed to make changes quicker and we found that in the Weinig machine,” said Stevens. 

Martin, who recently celebrated his 50th anniversary as a Setzer employee, added, “What I have liked best about the new technologies is the set-up time. We are able to do a four-head set up in minutes.” 

The employees of SFP have also been open to the concept of new machinery instead of rejecting the change.

“Our employees adapted to the new machinery not only because of the ease of set-up, but also because they saw a company making a commitment to their own future,” said Martin.

Keeping Control
With their commitment to quality and service, SFP also runs quality-control checks continually to make sure the products are up to its standards. When a product slips through the cracks and a customer has a problem, the company’s goal is to “get in and get out,” Stevens said. “In other words, to simply get the problem taken care of as quickly as possible.” 

SFP also takes pride in their relationships with its customers. For example, “When times got tough in 2004 and the product demand was high, but inventory was low, we were able to step up our service, fill orders for people—even for some who have not done business with us in 2 or 3 years,” Mark Setzer added.

“We never say no to anything made out of wood because we certainly feel we are capable of providing the best products,” he said. 

For example, Setzer has provided the material for promotions for Crayola Crown boxes, Sterling Vineyards wine boxes, Robert Mondavi Winery boxes and Opus One wine boxes, to name a few.

While SFP takes great pride in the quality and service in its business relationships, the company also takes pride in its community. The Setzers have developed The Setzer Foundation to help support children’s schools and charities along with the arts and future growth of them.

The old saying of taking pride in your work has certainly helped this moulding manufacturer survive for more than 75 years. 

Brian Welsh is the publisher of SHELTER magazine.

© Copyright Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.