Racemark now revving up for mat sales on Web Company prepared for online retail
Malta- For almost 30 years, Racemark International sold its high end floor mats straight to automobile markets. Customers who want a Racemark mat had to buy a new car, or at least head to a dealer for a replacement.
But in an age where automakers are insisting that suppliers find ways to costs every year, the company needed its own ways to boost revenue. So it created a new subsidiary, GGBAILEY LLC, and turned to the web to sell custom-made mats to the masses.
“We have to go out and get more sales to grow the business,” said William Van Patten, the company’s plant manager in the Luther Forest development in Malta.
So far the company has tip-toed into the market, putting up its site in November – www.ggbailey.com – and keeping a relatively low profile since then. But Ginger Cannon Bailey, Racemark’s co-chief executive, who is CEO and president of GGBAILEY, eventually expects the direct-to -consumer business to match the 1 million-plus mats made for the auto industry by Racemark last year.
Is that a tall order for car mats that cost $70 a pair, or $95 for an entire car? Not necessarily. The Specialty Equipment Market Association, a California based group, reported that people spend $2.3 billion on car-appearance products in 2000 and $25 billion in the automotive aftermarket.
While Racemark officials had the idea to sell on the web about two years ago, production hurdles loomed, its three plants were not running efficiently enough to handle the influx of customized business that the internet would bring.
So about 16 months ago, officials began shifting the three factories- in Malta, Georgia and Switzerland – to a “lean manufacturing” concept. The production floors would be re-arranged. Workers would operate in teams. Safety and cleanliness would be placed at a premium. The company would invest in new equipment to slash time and effort from the manufacturing process.
For example, the company bought a machine to cut the mats out of rolls of carpet after the plastic backing is applied. That operation used to be done manually, when the mats were put into big die-cutters. Now a computer guided knife slices silently across the mat.
Other benefits: Absenteeism has gone from 11% to 1.3%. Turnover has gone from 300% a year to 12%.
Going lean, Van Patten said, was key to being able to open the Internet storefront. Before the changes, the company was making 3,400 sets of car mats a day over three shifts.
After the shift to lean manufacturing, workers were able to make 3,600 sets a day over 2 shifts. And there’s capacity to spare. In Georgia, the extra capacity will be used to make the Internet orders. In Malta, the company will be able to solicit future business. On the factory floor, there’s actually an empty space with a sign hanging overhead saying just that.
It took more than extra equipment to get ready for the direct-to-consumer business. To sell custom-fit car mats, Racemark needed to know the custom-fit dimensions, information that the company couldn’t get simply by calling up GM and asking.
Check out the finished website and order your custom-fit car mat today visit www.ggbailey.com