Stiles Hosts Open House for New Operations
An importer and distributor of European woodworking equipment, Stiles Machinery Inc. hosted an open house last week for its new Solid Wood Technologies headquarters in High Point, NC. More than 300 people, including dealers, customers and Stiles personnel from around the country, gathered for the three-day event.
Robert Slater, vice president for the solid wood business unit, notes the company has long been a leader in the panel processing equipment arena, but made the decision two years ago to target new markets, including the window and door and millwork manufacturing industries. Since that time, Stiles has significantly expanded its product line to include wood scanning systems, rip saws, chop saws, moulders and tooling.
The facility now serves as a demonstration and training center for these new equipment lines, as well as a site to house existing Stiles’ operations for its finishing equipment business. On display at the open house were four Kentwood moulders, first introduced at last year’s International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta, Slater states, as well as a Kentwood rip saw. Notable in the line is a four-head moulder that can be acquired at a lower price point and easily upgraded later to a five-head machine.
Attracting the most interest among window and door makers, Slater suggests, was the System 10 line of equipment including chop saws and a variety of automated material handling equipment. “It’s really geared to the high volume needs of window manufacturers,” he explains, addressing their number one priority, “reducing labor requirements”.
Stiles is also showcasing a new line targeted at trim and millwork producers at the new operation. “The line takes a part right from the moulder and feeds it to a new vacuum coater, with a finished moulding, ready to install, coming out,” Slater says. The equipment isn’t specifically targeted at window and door manufacturers, but “it’s giving them some ideas,” he adds. In addition to bringing new equipment to the window and door industry, Slater suggests that Stiles will bring a new level of service to the market. “Stiles is unique. Since we’re a distributor, all we have is service to differentiate ourselves.” That service includes in-depth educational opportunities at the High Point plant on a regular basis. At the open house, the company was showcasing its machine shop, where it regularly hosts training for tooling care and maintenance.
Slater says one of the unique advantages Stiles offers is its technical service personnel. Located throughout the country, most of Stiles’ technical specialists don’t have to fly to make service calls, he notes. They are given a territory that they can cover by car and still be at home with their families much of the time. “For the customer, it means our people have a tremendous amount of experience,” he notes. When technical personnel are on the road all the time, he explains, there is a tendency toward burnout, which can lead to employee turnover. “The longevity of our people is one of our assets,” he concludes.