Weinig at work: woodworkers make Weinig the clear leader.
That's a truly impressive number when there are over 80 moulder manufacturers worldwide, but is quickly understood when one takes an inside look at this first-class company. "We had an uphill battle when we first established our U.S. base here in 1976," said Jon Morris, Weinig's marketing manager. "Weinig was an unknown entity then. Imported woodworking machines were generally perceived as too light in comparison to American manufacturers, and any sort of service or operator training was often difficult to get."
But what would have immediately daunted other companies, was no problem for the Weinig company. Michael Weinig has always had a twofold advantage over its competitors. For starters, when it comes to expertise in the moulder business, no other company can hold a candle. For instead of trying to offer a broad variety of woodworking equipment like most of its competitors, Weinig's sole focus from Day One has been on moulders and moulder equipment.
The second part of the equation, though, is perhaps even more significant. Since its inception, Weinig has turned its adaptability for any situation into an art form.
"Instead of forcing U.S. woodworkers to adapt to European standards, we Americanized our machines and made them fit the local requirements," Morris said. "We also set up our own service operation in North Carolina and started an educational program that continues to grow today." This educational program gained nationwide acclaim and earned Michael Weinig the award of "Educator of the Year" by the Woodworking Machinery Importers Assn. in 1992.
Beyond that, Michael Weinig consistently demonstrates its commitment to the U.S. market, said Jeff Davidson, president of Michael Weinig Inc. "We put a strong emphasis on things like spare parts availability and making sure there are enough service engineers."
Weinig's first big break in the United States came when it sold a moulder to Henredon, one of the country's premier residential furniture manufacturers.
"Basically, "said Morris, "we went to them with a totally new moulder and tooling concept and said, 'Here's the machine we think will work for you. Try it out, and if it does what you need it to do, keep it. If it needs changes, let us know.' We ended up making eight more for them."
With a foothold in the U.S. furniture market, Weinig continued to adapt. It set its sights on Tennessee and Virginia, a hotbed for hardwood planing and dimensioning operations. Weinig also targeted the Midwest's window industry and, like other pioneers, moved westward, to the West Coast's high-volume marketplace.
It hasn't stopped there. Weinig's customer base continues to branch out in an endless number of directions -- windows, doors, general millwork flooring, kitchen cabinets, toys -- you name it. Weinig is in it.
"When it comes to customers, there are no limits," said Morris.
"We've sold machines to everyone from the little mom-and-pop operations, where investing in a Weinig moulder has led directly to their success, to the billion-dollar-a-year companies like Andersen Windows, where they started with one of our machines for a special application and now have 36."
Satisfied customers in all shapes and sizes can be found across the country. They include Ferche Millwork Inc., a hardwood moulding manufacturer in Rice, MN. Established in 1958, the company, which currently employs 150 people, has grown to become one of the largest, most technologically advanced companies of its kind in the United States. Directly attributing to its success in the last 12 years has been the purchase of five Weinig moulders.
"One of the keys to Ferche's success has been the adoption of automated, high-speed production techniques. This has been made possible to a large degree with the help of the Weinig company," said Alan Ferche, the company's vice president. "Weinig worked closely with Ferche to design and build moulders that would maintain higher feed rates without sacrificing finish quality," said Ferche. "And the Weinig technicians did an excellent job of training our personnel in the proper moulder use and operation. We just picked the standard Weinig options that we felt would do the best job for our product line -- Weinig had a lot of flexibility built into those options."
Also satisfied with the high quality and performance of Weinig moulders and grinders is Architectural Woodworking Services of Lexington, SC, a mom-and-pop operation in the purest sense. Ray Gresham, an experienced woodworker, runs the shop along with his wife, Theresa, who does all the company's profile grinding.
Established six years ago, the company specialized in high-end architectural millwork and picture frame moulding for a regional customer base in the Carolinas. But the turning point for the AWS came 18 months ago when it celebrated its incorporation. Adding to the momentous time was the purchase a Weinig Profimat moulder and Rondamat 934T grinder.
"Let's just say there's no way I could have competed in the marketplace without that moulder," said Ray Gresham. "Its set-up time is minimal, and it's great for the small runs that we do. I don't know if I could really put into words what it's done for us.
"We used to dimension most of our stock on a planer and then edge it on a shaper -- all told, it required eight to 10 passes. With the five heads on the Weinig moulder, the same thing gets done with one pass," he added.
In terms of training and maintenance, the Greshams couldn't be more satisfied.
"Having no real experience before, it took my wife probably about a week to become proficient on the machine," Gresham said. "As for me -- I was able to do setups on the moulder after maybe two hours of training.
"It's just been excellent."
Value and excellence are just two words which could be used to describe the Weinig moulder purchased by Steffen Schwartz, owner of I & S Custom Cabinets, Chatsworth CA. Established in 1979, the 15-employee company produces strictly high-end custom cabinetry in the California market.
According to Schwartz, the Weinig moulder he purchased 2 1/2 years ago has meant "everything" to his company. "If I had to start from scratch again, I would buy a computer, a panel saw and a Weinig," said Schwartz. "Before, when I needed 10 feet of moulding, it would take forever on the shaper we were using. With our Weinig, the same thing takes two minutes."
From a maintenance and operating standpoint, Schwartz gives his Weinig the highest marks. "It's so idiot-proof, it's unbelievable," he said. "There's nothing to it. You just walk up to it, put your knife in and you're set."
Ease of setup as well as excellence in production is why top window manufacturer Marvin Window Co.'s main facility in Warroad, MN, has seven Weinig moulders.
Marvin Window bought its first Weinig in 1982 -- a nine-head 22 B. "Right away we went from about 60 feet a minute to 150-180 feet," Muck Harrison said. "We have seven Weinigs in-house now."
The moulders produce all the company's sash and frame parts, including one machine that has been especially tailored to create the mullion bars for all of Marvin's divided-lite windows.
"We were having a lot of variation on our old moulders," said Harrison. "Weinig shortened up and changed the configuration head on one of its moulders to specifically accommodate our mullion bars, and the necessary tolerances improved considerably at much higher speeds."
Harrison also said his grinding-room operators have benefitted a great deal from on-the-spot training at Weinig's special training center in Statesville, N.C. "It's been very beneficial," he said. "It's easier to learn at Statesville, where you're working with the absolute experts in the field.
"Overall, we've been very satisfied with our Weinig moulders. They've been real good for the company."
Michael Weinig is confident that the list of satisfied customers will keep growing. And to ensure this, the company is placing a primary emphasis research and development, including reducing changeover times.
"It's not one thing, but a lot of little things that add up," said Davidson. "Table plates that adjust quicker. Hold-downs that have digital readouts attached so they can be positioned accurately, rather than by touch-and-feel and trial-and-error.
"On the scale of new developments, they appear relatively uninteresting," said Davidson. "But when they're added all together, you start seeing minutes saved here and there, and before you know it, you have a tremendous overall savings in set-up time, which is increasingly important these days."
Minutes saved here and there ... Attention to detail -- a key facet in every woodworker's existence ... Weinig continues to monitor the moulder marketplace's pulse like no-one else.
As was the case with Steffen Schwartz of I & S Cabinets, the company's moulders mean "everything."
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|Title Annotation:||Michael Weinig AG|
|Publication:||Wood & Wood Products|
|Date:||Jun 1, 1994|
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