American Excelsior Company Raising the Bar on Manufacturing Processes

The Lake Companies is fortunate to work with manufacturers across numerous industries producing a wide variety of products. One of these companies is American Excelsior Company, who was also the first to receive our Forever Green Manufacturing Award. You can watch the company’s award presentation on our clients results page and see how the company benefited from improving business continuity.

The Forever Green Manufacturing Award is presented to companies that use both SyteLine ERP and any number of The Lake Companies’ products — Shop-Trak, Doc-Trak, Fact-Trak, and/or Beacon-Trak. To receive the award, companies must engage in proven “green” strategies, demonstrate how they improved their profits or reduced costs through the use of our products, and help make the planet a better place by reducing their carbon footprint and company paper usage. We invite you to watch an episode on Forever Green Manufacturing TV to learn proven strategies from profitable manufacturing companies.

In the case of American Excelsior Company, IT Director said, “Doc-Trak and Shop-Trak improved our business continuity should a natural disaster disable one of our sites. Because we’re online and paperless, it provides us the ability to instantly move work from the disabled plant to any other facility, improving our ability to service our customers.”

We think that other manufacturers can benefit from learning from a successful organization like American Excelsior Company, so let’s take a closer look.

The American Excelsior Story

In order to understand American Excelsior Company, we first need to understand the term “excelsior.”
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines excelsior as “fine curled wood shavings used especially for
packing fragile items.”

That’s exactly how American Excelsior Company got its start back in 1877. They began by producing wood excelsior for use as a protective packaging in wood crates and as filling material for bedding and furniture products. American Excelsior Company (AEC) now operates the largest excelsior mill in the United States, located in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. Today, wood excelsior is utilized as a renewable resource for packaging, erosion control, and evaporative cooling pads, as well as for archery targets and floral/craft filler.

AEC History

For nearly 130 years, AEC has manufactured and distributed products for packaging, cushioning, engineered foam specialties, erosion control, and a wide variety of engineered wood fibers. As industrialization and manufacturing evolved, so did the product offerings of AEC.

At its inception, AEC produced wood excelsior in the early 1890s, cotton batting in the 1920s, excelsior pads in the 1940s, foam rubber in the 1950s, polyurethane foam in the 1960s, polystyrene loose fill in the 1970s, starch-based packaging and molded polyurethane products in the 1990s, and new viscoelastic foams for seating along with new innovations for erosion and sediment control in the 2000s.
Today with their headquarters in Arlington, Texas, AEC operates 8 distribution centers and 5 manufacturing plants across the United States and employs about 350 people.

SyteLineCon 2016

At SyteLineCon 2016 this past October, we invited manufacturers like AEC who use SyteLine to come and exchange ideas with other professionals and explore further developments in the manufacturing industry. The Lake Companies was the main sponsor of the conference and we encouraged our clients who use our products to share their experiences with other conference attendees so they could gain new insights on how to better use these industry tools in the Better Your Best Contest.

AEC was a participant of the Better Your Best contest at SyteLineCon and took home a Surface Pro! AEC shared compelling information about how our products are being utilized in their business and contributing to their success. AEC went live with SyteLine in 2005 and at the same time they decided to deploy Shop-Trak and Doc-Trak as part of their automation alternative.

“We are always coming up with new, innovative ways to better manufacture our products for our customers. Prior to using LakeCo products, we used traditional time clocks and file cabinets to store our documents. This meant lots of file cabinets and square footage was used to store both current and old data. Approximately 1/8 of our corporate offices contained boxes upon boxes of documents from both closed and current sites.”
Michelle Manfred, ERP Systems Manager – American Excelsior

According to Manfred, AEC was looking for better visibility to their shop floor operations in multiple locations and also wanted to reduce their paper usage. Before implementing Shop-Trak and Doc-Trak, AEC had considerable pain points to deal with.

“It was very time consuming to wait on personnel to pull documents and there was zero visibility to offsite personnel. The time spent physically retrieving the data and then scanning and either faxing or emailing to the requestor was excessive.” She said, “That was if the documents were even able to be located, as many times they were misfiled or with everyone having their own ways of filing documents, [filing idiosyncrasies] made things more difficult. We encouraged our sites to use customer numbers to file customer documents to simplify the process, however, the sites continued to do things their own way.”

Filing idiosyncrasies is one of the many challenges that face so many manufacturers still using paper filing systems. A robust document management system like Doc-Trak brings filing discipline.

According to another Better Your Best Contest participant, Keith Worthington, IT Manager at Linemaster Switch Corporation in Woodstock, Connecticut, “Storing a document is only as useful as your ability to easily retrieve that document at a later time. If you can’t find it, then you’ve wasted your effort.”

AEC Results with The Lake Companies’ Product

Michelle Manfred said, “I cannot comment on actual numbers, but know the time scanning the documents into Doc Trak is well worth it for the security of our information as well as the ease of access.”

With The Lake Companies’ products, AEC was able to:

  • Stop manually calculating and adding up payroll hours
  • Eliminate the need to purchase additional filing cabinets
  • Eliminate the additional wasted space to house documents
  • Eliminate the time spent searching for documents

Manfred points out that The Lake Companies’ products have improved visibility throughout the company at its multiple locations, and that less time is now spent fetching documents which has improved company efficiency.

“LakeCo has a great support team, who is very pleasant to work with and always willing to spend whatever time necessary to help whenever there are issues. We just upgraded Doc-Trak to the current version for our SyteLine version 8.03.20. We would like to learn more about Fact-Trak and we are not getting as much out of Shop-Trak as we could be.”

Even with all the success American Excelsior Company has already achieved, it just goes to show that there is always continued room for improvement.

Getting More Benefits for Your Company

If you want to find out how you can get more out of your existing modules or discover the difference our products can make in your business, we encourage you to contact us today. We look forward to seeing how we can help your organization achieve success.

SyteLineCon 2016 and the Better Your Best Contest was an eye opening experience for not only our customers, but also for us here at The Lake Companies. The ingenious and innovative ways our customers are employing our products for use in their manufacturing businesses are creative and impressive, to say the least. If you would like to share your experiences in using our products, we would be delighted to hear from you.