Last month, I was fortunate enough to visit Sioux Chief Manufacturing, Peculiar, Mo., with a group of contractors, wholesalers and reps from the upper Midwest. We started with a tour of the 375,000-sq.-ft. facility followed by a roundtable session with the group. Sioux Chief conducts about 15-20 plant tours throughout the year. These tours include contractors, distributors, engineers, young executives and students that are future contractors. “All of the tours include a roundtable session where we listen to these industry professionals, which allows us the road map to manufacture innovative products that solve problems,” said tour guide, Michael Foster, regional sales manager for Sioux Chief.
Sioux Chief’s goal of the facility tour and subsequent roundtable is to show visitors that producing a quality product right here at home at a fair price can possibly win them a bid in the future. Learning about the Sioux Chief product —how much it saves them in cost, labor savings, quality control — before, at or after an installation — and how much it saves them in vendor management due to the breadth and quality of the line can be to the contractor’s advantage.
Fellow tour groupie, David Regenold, project manager, Horwitz NS/I Mechanical Construction & Service, New Hope, Minn., said meeting with the Sioux Chief design team left him most impressed about the visit. “Too few companies ask us what we need and too many tell us what we should use. As a customer, we come back because they continue to offer us the best value for us — and our customers — while creating innovative solutions to real-world problems. The high quality of Sioux Chief’s American-made products keeps us competitive and provides the greatest value to our clients.”
American made manufacturing
At the start of the tour, an overwhelming sense of pride came over me learning that Sioux Chief is truly a “Made in America” company, supporting 350 families, and the local economy. “Being an American manufacturer has allowed Sioux Chief to be in control of its own destiny. Not only do we support our own workers but that of many across the nation. We use many domestic sources for raw materials and equipment to ensure that we offer quality products for the plumbing industry,” said Foster.
Sioux Chief’s product range covers all the rough plumbing and specialty needs of any type of plumbing project — from supply and access to a full line of commercial and residential drainage products, as well as hangers and brackets. From its hugely popular water hammer arrestors to its OxBox™ to its commercial on-grade Finish Line™ floor drains, as well as a future proprietary PowerPEX™ line, all products are/will be manufactured and tested at the Peculiar facility.
“With this combination, a distributor or contractor can easily obtain all the innovative and quality products they need to provide great service and a professional job to their clients. When you look at a Sioux Chief catalog you can see why we are considered a single source manufacturer,” said Foster.
And the reason to remain an American-made company? “We want to be leaders in innovation and, quite honestly, we want to build better, quality plumbing products at a fair price here at home,” said Rex Baer, vice president of product development.
Echoing this sentiment, Dominic Ismert, chief financial officer and director of marketing for Sioux Chief, says the company manufactures product in America strictly because it is an advantage to its customers. “When a customer buys a Sioux Chief product, yes, it is made in America because it should be. We make products in America because we can make them better here,” said Ismert.
One-stop plumbing source
All customers in the Sioux Chief distribution channel benefit from vendor management — from the wholesaler to the contractor, builders, engineers and everyone in between. To the extent that you can find one brand or one company that does multiple products well and offers them at the right price point, that’s an advantage in any industry, especially this product-heavy industry. “We ship within 24 hours of an order for 99.9% of all our products, which is a rarity for any size business, let alone one with 7,000+ SKUs,” said Ismert. “The Sioux Chief catalog should be a cache of opportunity, an investment trip, not a shopping trip for the customer. When they look through the catalog of Sioux Chief offerings, the customer should see savings, whether it is cost savings or labor savings, and those savings they can put in their pockets or reinvest in their business.”
As with most manufacturers across the nation, training is an important facet to Sioux Chief. It is important that the company trains the industry at all levels, including the contractor, distributor, engineer, building owner and other trades that work around its products. “It is incumbent upon Sioux Chief to provide not only the innovative products that contractors install, but also the proper training to ensure that all the benefits and features are clearly understood and taken advantage of when those products are installed by a licensed professional contractor,” said Foster.
Even with downturns in the economy, Sioux Chief has positioned itself to continue to provide the plumbing industry with products that help solve problems in the field. “We listen to the contractor and we are not afraid to change or build from scratch. Our vertical integration allows us the control to design and build those products that contractors want and need,” said Foster, who, by the way, has been with Sioux Chief for 24 years and he is as excited today as he was back in 1989 about what Sioux Chief is accomplishing, and future accomplishments. “I am very proud to be a part of such a great American manufacturing company’s success.”
By John Mesenbrink. A version of this feature also can be seen at Contractormag.com.