By Charles Collier
DENMARK—The roughly 50 employees at Professional Fabrications in Denmark were all on hand last month when the firm was honored as Supplier of the Year by KI, the Green Bay-based international furniture manufacturer.
“This is really a big, big award for us, especially being a small company,” said Terry Brusda, co-owner and President of Professional Fabrications, to the mass of welders and CNC machine operators/welders (among others) before passing around the Crystal Eagle statue.
A 10,000 square-foot expansion in 2015 allowed more space for a variety of equipment additions, helping to disperse a cramped workspace and strengthen Pro Fab’s ability to accept truly custom orders.
Last year, the Denmark company shipped more than 1.5 million total parts. Roughly one-fifth of that output was for KI projects.
“We received over 300,000 pieces from Pro Fab this past year. Only 615 were rejected. That’s an impressive statistic in and of itself” Greg Kyles of KI said, adding that a majority of the Denmark company’s contributions are for custom projects that require more intense attention to detail than standard, templated orders.
“When I first joined KI back in the 90’s, custom options was about 5% of our business, now it’s up well near 25% of our business, because of the work you guys do for us, this has helped us grow that niche within the markets that we serve,” Kyles said.
Gary Van Handel, KI’s vice president of Supply Chain Management, said KI works with between 800 and 1,000 suppliers annually to meet the needs of the company’s six plants throughout Wisconsin, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Canada.
“Pro Fab is really an innovator for us—you’re right there with us solving problems every day. You’ve earned our trust,” Van Handel said to the crew, clarifying that that trust is not between the companies but instead between the individuals working on both ends.
“It’s how you look at your work; what you do every day; what you bring to your work. It’s the decisions you make and how you support us. Those things build trust, and you’ve really done that for us and have set yourself apart as a partner,” said Van Handel.
The Crystal Eagle statue is meant to represent suppliers with broad yet precise vision, unchallenged efficiency, and abilities to innovate within non-conventional circumstances. Van Handel said the award is reserved for American-based suppliers as an added eagle metaphor.
Brusda and co-owner Bill Hoffmann directed all credit to their labor force for the high honor.
“Every single one of you has touched their product one way or another. Whether in the office or out here on the floor, you’re all in involved and it’s all because of you that this happened,” Brusda said.