Tim Guenther believes that a company’s strategy and its culture should go hand in hand.
That was the big driver behind the decision for his company, Clickstop Inc., a multi-brand Internet retailer, to add a sewing and assembly operation at its Urbana headquarters earlier this year.
The new department makes tie-down straps for the company’s US Cargo Control brand of cargo transport products, the brand on which Guenther founded Clickstop in 2005. That category represents a large piece of its business.
Before the expansion, Clickstop had imported all such straps from China.
“Importing from China had a lot of downside,” Guenther said. “First, obviously, those jobs weren’t here.”
The new sewing and assembly operation already has added seven jobs, with eight more part-time positions to be filled.
By building tie-down assemblies on site, Clickstop will be able to offer a wider range of products, including capabilities that customers want but the company has been unable to source from overseas, Guenther said.
On-site assembly also allows a higher level of quality control.
“By taking on this challenge we ... are investing in our brand, not just shipping containers of brown boxes from China,” he explained.
Guenther said his team took a methodical approach to the expansion, spending a lot of time researching the industry before deciding to move forward. One challenge was a lack of ASTM standards, to test materials and products, requiring the company to do its own due diligence and testing.
“Anyone can import a product from China and put a tag on it,” he said. “We have responsibility for putting a good product out there.”
The company completed a warehouse addition in late 2012 and invested in a large amount of equipment and technology. The new department began operating in February and is on track to produce 100 percent of the tie-down strap line by the end of June.
“We’ve taken the time to do it right and now we are in a position to do it well,” Guenther said.