Case Studies

Columbia Aluminum Products LLC

Door and window component design and manufacturing from Southern California

Columbia Aluminum Products LLC (CAP) is a leading designer, manufacturer and distributor of door and flooring components including weather strips, astragals, thresholds and transitions strips.

Boasting a sizable catalog, the Corona, California-based company prides itself on competitive pricing and customer service. “Once we land a customer, we try to keep them through superior customer service,” says president and CEO, Drew Mumford Sr. “Whenever a customer needs something, we’ll jump through hoops for them; it’s as simple as that.”

Columbia Aluminum Products LLC

Founded in 1947, CAP was the first weather strip manufacturer on the West Coast and mostly served door manufacturers. By the time Mumford Sr. joined the company in 1985, CAP had begun to diversify its product line into the retail sector, penning an agreement to supply carpet trim and oak transition strips to California’s first Home Depot location.

Mumford Sr. purchased CAP in 2000 and has since built the company’s relationship with the big box home improvement giant to the point where CAP’s carpet trim products can now be found in over 800 Home Depot locations across the country. The two companies are now building on that relationship with the introduction of CAP’s new Tile Trim product, which will be sold at all Home Depot locations nationwide.

“Right now sales to door and window companies make up about 65 percent of our sales, but that is going to flip-flop in 2016 because we landed this new Tile Trim program with Home Deport that is going to be huge,” Mumford Sr. says.

CAP still sells finished products to some of the country’s largest door manufacturers, including Therma-Tru Doors and American Building Supply, maintaining vital relationships thanks to its customer-first strategy. “If a customer needs something specific, we’ll do it for them: special cuts, punches, anything that makes it easier to install our products. We’ve been selling to Therma- Tru for years and as they’ve grown we’ve tailored different sills for them,” says Mumford Sr.

A strong catalog

CAP’s product range is so extensive that the company doesn’t even bother with binding its catalog. “We just use a three-ring binder so we can add products, and if a customer comes with an idea that we think will be of use to other customers, we’ll put it in our catalog,” says Mumford Sr.

As the name implies, CAP works primarily in aluminum, though plastic components are beginning to gain acceptance. “Most things are going to plastics nowadays as far as the substrate is concerned; in the past that was all wood, but it would rot,” says Mumford Sr. “Today plastics seem to be the way to go and we haven’t come up with a more cost-effective alternative that is going to work as well.”

To meet the demands of its expansion into the retail market, the company recently relocated from its former facility in City of Commerce, California, to a new, larger building in Corona, California.

“We had literally grown out of the other building,” says Mumford Sr. “It only had 24-foot ceilings and was 60,000 square feet. Now we’ve got 30-foot ceilings and an extra 15,000 square feet, which means a new racking system and more storage.”

While CAP already ships products from coast-to-coast and to Canada, the growing focus on retail and an expanded presence at Home Depot locations has led the company to seek out a new, centralized warehouse facility elsewhere in the United States. This will allow the door and flooring component manufacturer to serve customers with the same speed and reliability they’ve come to expect. “We’re hoping to have that done by the end of this year or the first quarter of 2017,” says Mumford Sr.

CAP has made a name for itself with responsive, on-time service; something that Mumford Sr. doesn’t want to see suffer as the company begins to ramp up production to meet the new demand. While the standard lead time in the door industry is two weeks, CAP can often accommodate next-day orders for door manufacturers and two or three day turnaround for retail customers.

Cutting costs through worldwide sourcing

While the recession decimated the competition in the building components industry, CAP was able to weather the period of economic hardship thanks to a worldwide sourcing strategy that allowed the company to offer competitive pricing.

“We were converting to plastics at that time and we were able to become cost-effective because we shopped the entire globe and got materials from China, Vietnam and Mexico,” says Mumford Sr. “I think that’s one of the keys to our business, the fact that we source globally.”

This sourcing model allowed CAP to quickly bounce back following the economic downturn, with the company reaching pre-recession revenue levels in three years. This quick turnaround ranks as one of Mumford Sr.’s favorite moments during his 16 years at the helm of CAP. “One of the things I’m very proud of is that when the housing market crashed, we were able to gain so much business from our competitors,” he says.

The biggest concerns on the horizon for Mumford Sr. are how to keep pace with the company’s rapid growth and whether or not the current economic upturn is a real trend or a flash in the pan. “One thing I always kind of worry about is if we’re in another bubble,” he says.

The new Corona facility and potential warehouse location are part of Mumford Sr.’s growth plan, but the CEO is now looking to further expand the business into the hardware side of the retail market. “It’s a different scope of products between retail and pre-hung style items,” he says.

No matter where the industry might head next, Mumford Sr. can take comfort in the fact that the next generation is already well-positioned to take the company into the future. “I hired my son, Drew Mumford Jr., while he was still in college. He’s been with me since 2000 and is now the vice president of the company and handles integral parts of the business on a daily basis,” Mumford Sr. says. A strong succession plan, industry-leading expertise and a vital partnership with the nation’s largest home improvement retailer should mean a bright future for Columbia Aluminum Products LLC.

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