« Back to News

Jarden jumps from textiles to tackle boxes

Source: Just Good News

June 25, 2014

“Well done” is better than “well said.” That’s the philosophy Brian Searfoss embraces as the president of Jarden Applied Materials (JAM), one of the approximately 70 manufacturing centers within Jarden Corporation. If you haven’t heard of this Fortune 500 company, you’ve probably heard of one of its 120 consumer brands like Aerobed, Ball, Bicycle Playing Cards, Coleman, Crock Pot, First Alert, FoodSaver, GrillMaster, Kerr, Marmot, Nuk, Oster, Rawlings, Shakespeare, Mr. Coffee, Sunbeam, Rival, Volkl and yankee Candle, just to list a few.

Jarden Applied Materials has three manufacturing plants, one of which is in Columbia. The Columbia plant focuses on three platforms: nylon extrusion (think monofilament fishing line), nylon polymerization and electronics (think antennas on military Humvees). In fact, the monofilament legacy dates back to Jarden’s best-known Columbia brand of Shakespeare®. The Shakespeare plant started in 1946, following a renaissance of textile manufacturing in South Carolina.

Their specialty? Fishing line for the rods and reels of the day. Today, one example of that monofilament legacy is exuded (or, shall we say, extruded) in nylon grass trimmer line. Jarden Applied Materials makes enough string trimmer line each year to circle the earth nine times! If you have shopped at a Southeast-headquartered mega box store like Home Depot, Lowes, Wal-Mart or Do it Best, you probably have some in your toolshed.

Jarden’s 43-acre site in South Carolina has been tweaked and streamlined to conscientiously embody Searfoss’ philosophy of “well done.” The 15 buildings were reorganized to maximize two results: efficiency and profitability. Speaking with a Zen-like conviction, Searfoss explained his particular brand of operational excellence. He calls his continuous improvement program Fit4Future. “It’s so that every associate marches to the same plan,” says Searfoss.

The South Carolina Fit4Future legacy focuses on four areas to strengthen: the planet, the employees, the company and its customers. “If we take care of the planet and ourselves, it will take care of the company,” he explains. “We must invest in assets that will continue running with a focus on improvement.” Scratch the surface and you will discover a company that truly walks the walk, and doesn’t just talk the talk. At Shakespeare Monofilaments, their focus on the environment has led them to recycling programs, a reduction of plastic in their packaging, and a shift from PVC to recycled PET. The company has vertically integrated into resin manufacturing and consumer packaging, which allows them to oversee production from raw materials to finished product.

Jarden’s 2013 Manufacturing Excellence Award went to the Columbia S.C. plant, beating 18 other applications. The JAM plant produces four distinct product lines: monofilaments, engineered nylon polymer, consumer products and antennas. Because each product line has very different production, warehousing and engineering requirements, the complexities of managing product flow throughout the existing site was exacerbated with each new building addition. This created an opportunity to improve product flow.

Recognizing a need for a change in 2011, Searfoss and his team reorganized the site layout, optimized product processes and applied Lean manufacturing principles to develop a strong, continuous line, reducing inventory, improving labor efficiency, decreasing operating costs and increasing revenue. They were able to track their results for a full year before submitting their application to prove that they were the best overall manufacturing facility in the network.

“What better place to be than to be in the Southeast, the largest market for grass trimmer line?” asks Searfoss, a Pennsylvania native. He says that South Carolina has a dedicated workforce pool that has served him well. The company’s philosophy is demonstrated in the longevity of his employees’ careers. Some have 25 and 30 years of service, as well as generations of workers who go off to college and return. “We are competitive because of our discipline,” he concludes.

View full article at: South Carolina Business- Pages 20-21

« Back to News

Related News