What a remarkable year we’ve had in the Christmas business! It’s been a time of growth and change here in the shop. It’s not lost on us that if you’re not staying ahead of trends in our business, you’re not just behind Santa’s sleigh…it can stop you dead in your reindeer tracks! At our last planning meeting of 2018, we discussed where we wanted to head as a company, and the general consensus was definitely “innovation.” Sure, we have the tools and resources to replicate any popular designs on the market, but what will make our company stand out among the rest? We already have a great model for a product that is truly recognizable…our signature bows have been our best seller for over 30 years. So the question was: how do we turn our success in our bow department into success for our other departments?
We are a fairly seasonal business and it gets quiet in January, so we spent the first quarter of the year really looking at ways we could first cut costs and streamline our operations. We began by implementing a LEAN method of manufacturing, from the offices to the bathrooms! By instilling the values of the “5S system” (sort, set in order, shine, standardize and sustain) and having our employees learn the “8 Deadly Sins of Waste” (defects, overproduction, waiting, not utilizing employee talent, transportation, inventory excess, motion waste and excess processing), our shop’s operations and method of production changed dramatically and for the better. Our departments are cleaner and more organized, and we’ve empowered our employees to take ownership of their spaces. This saves time and money, which we are now more than happy to pass along to our customers in the form of competitive prices and higher quality products.
With a plan in place for how we needed to structure daily operations, it was apparent we needed more space to encourage our growth potential. We welcomed a new warehouse on the farm, and have made great use of this new space for storage and shipping.
With a solid LEAN foundation, we began looking at real ways we could innovate and expand our product line using the resources, talent and equipment we already have. One of the first items on our list was mastering a transparent fiberglass ornament. With a little research and elbow-grease, it will soon be one of the biggest “wow” moments for our clients! This accomplishment segued into creating a new mold for a 6’ transparent C7 lightbulb, complete with cord and plug. These new pieces are fun and whimsical, and more importantly, met our innovation goal by being something totally new to the Burr product line. These, as well as an opaque multi-colored version, will roll out in 2020!
Another great option that we debuted in 2019 is our Masson product line. Coming out of Germany, we are one of only two companies in the US with the license to sell these products. The fiberglass roving sculptures are different, durable and lightweight, and come in virtually any shape and size. We’ve had a great time using this product in many ways, and especially love the year-round nature of the line…we are able to sell for spring and summer, as well as Christmas, with Masson products.
Another goal was met this summer with the creation of an 84” giant fiberglass ornament. We have been creating 24”, 36” and 48” orbs for a few years, but tackled the challenge of a larger size to fulfill multiple client requests. This is a show-stopping item for sure…and they can be put in a four-ball stack for an amazing impact piece.
Adding all of this in with custom fabricated metal pieces that Thomas and his crew complete every week (like 21’ lighted stags…truly staggering!), you’ve got a recipe for a busy year!
Throughout the year we also discussed ways to add to the family atmosphere that our company has enjoyed since 1975. Our employees are the most important piece to our puzzle and we value their input and work ethic above all else. Things like family meals, a benevolence fund, celebrating anniversary dates, and prioritizing a clean and organized work environment are some of the ways we identified that can move us forward as a company. This, along with setting clear expectations for production and behavior, cultivates a positive company culture and a committed and loyal crew.
Our “busy season” ramped up in August as we began receiving and fulfilling orders for customers all over the country and the world! Our clients had been busy all year brainstorming and budgeting for items that would elevate their spaces and holiday events to new heights, sure to impress residents, visitors, guests and leadership in their communities. Our goal was to produce beautiful, quality products that would ship out in time for our customers to “dress up” their venues in time for the holiday season. It is truly a joy for us to see our client’s ideas and dreams become reality each December and 2019 was no exception!
We look forward to serving our Burr clients each and every year, and are excited to see what new innovations will come to life in the future! We have some exciting projects on deck for this year and we hope you’ll continue to support our company like you have for the past 35 years.
Burr Industries, LLC