Excellent article in the Sunday “Washington Post Magazine” on Marlin Steel Wire Products, a Baltimore manufacturer appropriately highlighted in the “Making It” feature.
It’s the success story of Drew Greenblatt, who bought a Brookyln-based manufacturer of steel wire products (baskets, racks, etc.), moved it to Maryland, and found himself up against brutal undercutting by Chinese manufacturers. So what did he do? Reinvent the business …and succeed.
Unlike Marlin, Chinese manufacturers require large minimum orders and long lead times. “China can’t get a custom single hook or single basket in less than a week, or in less than three weeks,” he says. “They can’t do it.”
In 2002, such jobs were 0.5 percent of Marlin’s sales. This year, they will be 70 percent of the business, as sales top $3 million. Companies such as Novartis, Toyota, Amgen, Pfizer and Boeing use Marlin’s custom-made wire baskets and assemblies to carry, secure or wash materials in their robotic, high-tech manufacturing plants. “Material-handling baskets” are a new need for a new style of American manufacturing, Drew says. And he got in just in time.
Now the company’s profitable, the employees have earned raises, and Drew is able to pay himself.
Kudos to Margaret Webb Pressler for writing the story. Drew and the employees of Marlin Wire hosted a crew of NAM employees last November for a factory tour, and the enthusiasm was infectious. And back in June, Melissa Lindsay, a Marlin Wire Steel Products bookkeeper, testified before a House committee on the benefits of a family-friendly workplace.
Glad to see recognition for all the good work being done there.
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