Nashville Wire Products innovates itself into the next millennium. By Eric C. Peterson
“Every refrigeration shelf, produce rack, barbecue grill, oven rack, fan guard and motor mount we produce is fabricated to a customer’s individual specifications. In many cases, we assist the customer in designing these and other products after carefully analyzing their needs.”
The speaker is David L. Rollins, CEO of Nashville Wire Products, Nashville, Tenn., and he’s talking about his company’s unique customized approach to satisfying its customers. “Since the beginning, we have been dedicated to providing solutions for our customers,” Rollins continues. “We are constantly designing and producing new wire products to meet their needs.”
“The beginning,” for Nashville Wire, came in 1934 (“We recently celebrated our 65th anniversary by having a company-wide picnic — it was a blast!” enthuses Ginny Stuart, assistant purchasing manager). The company started out modestly as a local supplier, but has over the years blossomed into a global business, producing and shipping around the world from some 14 locations situated in Middle Tennessee. Mid-South Wire is a sister corporation to Nashville Wire Products.
The company’s various units are the Nashville Display Division, including the Dover and Lebanon, Tenn. display plants; the Commercial Appliance Division; the HVAC Division; Research & Development; the Industrial Shelving Division, including a plant in Clarksville; the Container Division; Appliance Shelving and the Surface Finishing, Building Construction and Corporate Services divisions. Altogether, the company has about two million square feet of production space.
What exactly does Nashville Wire Products make? Simply put, the company produces a wide range of component products for end users in several industries. The list of end users who incorporate NWP’s components into their finished products include everyone from M&M Mars, to Home Depot, Lowe’s, Auto Zone, Kysor Warren, Trane and Carrier, to name just a few.
In the industrial shelving category NWP makes decking, dividers and shelving. On the display side, its products include custom and multi-use displays, and specialized units for everything from snack foods to books and videos, batteries, comic books, newspapers and magazines.
The company’s container division makes a variety of containers, conveyor guards, pallets and mesh panels. Commercial products from the company include everything from oven racks and shelving, to motor mounts, fan guards and refrigeration shelving. Finally, appliance components include oven and warming racks and barbeque grill racks. And HVAC components include fan guards, wrap-arounds and motor mounts.
Basic materials used in the company’s products are stainless steel, galvanized or basic bright wire. Assembly is performed either by resistance or arc welding for maximum strength. Quality control inspectors go over each product with a fine-tooth comb to locate any possible problems.
All in the family
One of the keys to NWP’s long history of success is that it is a “team-based company working toward world-class status,” says Rollins. “Our associates take pride in what they do and the products they manufacture.”
Indeed, NWP with a full-time workforce of 850, is family owned, currently managed by the third generation. That alone has instilled a sense of family into the way the company operates in its chosen field. “We believe that doing business is a three-way relationship between management, employee and customer,” Rollins explains.
“Our family business atmosphere is present throughout our facilities,” he continues. “Open communication has always been encouraged, and employees are regularly rewarded for input that results in higher product quality, improved productivity, or better plant safety.”
All of this translates into a better overall product from the customer’s standpoint. From a production standpoint, that begins with just-in-time (JIT) delivery of component products to end-users. “We can make a quarter of a customer’s annual order ahead of time, warehouse it ourselves, and then ship product as necessary,” Rollins explains.
“We can handle unusual orders in quantities ranging from two to 2,000, and can also offer a choice of finishes to meet customers’ demands,” he continues. Indeed, NWP doesn’t limit itself to larger scale commercial products. As Rollins likes to say, “If what a customer needs can be made out of wire, we can bend it, shape it, weld it and coat it anyway they want!”
One of the company’s divisions mentioned earlier is Research & Development, and it’s a key element in NWP’s approach to customer service. As Rollins explains, “It’s R&D’s job to custom design machinery that will result in lower production costs to the customer. “We have a reputation for going to great lengths to accomplish a customer’s goals, and we’re proud of that,” he adds.
One example of how NWP innovated a solution to a problem: What to do with pallets when they’re not in use. You’ve seen them…lying haphazardly around warehouses and staging yards. The answer came from the Container Division in Springfield, Tenn., in the form of a new welded wire, 4,000-pound-capacity shop pallet called Spacesaver 4000. Weighing under 50 pounds, and with a footprint of only 40 inches by 48 inches, (less than 14 square feet), these nesting pallets can be stacked up to 80 high, occupying less than .175 square feet each. “Try that with a wooden pallet,” Rollins laughs. It provides durability with its steel construction, a special corrugated steel foot, and a nine-point loading design.
As Rollins concludes, “You will find a commitment to quality in every level of our organization.”