Volume 18 | Issue 6 | Year 2015

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Custom Profile was first founded in 1992 by Sam G. Nicholas in Grand Rapids, Mich. Working out of a humble 3,000-square-foot space inside a machinery building, he relied upon a single extruder and his industry experience to establish the company. Six years later, after building up his business through demand from local appliance and furniture markets, he quickly found himself needing to expand his manufacturing footprint in a significant manner and made the critical decision to relocate and construct an entirely new building to allow his business to continue to flourish and grow.

“During this time we had been able to strike up a strong business relationship with Electrolux, who were over in Greenfield at the time,” says Rhoades, adding, “Things progressed pretty quickly with them and by 1999, they were responsible for somewhere between 50 and 60 percent of our business.” Having an extensive partnership with a global leader like Electrolux proved to be a launching pad for Custom Profile, as the company underwent a series of additional expansions over the next few years, increasing plant size, employees, and extrusions lines to handle and manage what was no longer a regional, but national business.

Over the next decade, despite economic downturns and rapidly evolving markets, Custom Profile continued to snowball in success, becoming an international manufacturer with its opening of a facility in Juárez, Mexico in 2008, and serving the needs of those leading its relevant markets, which today includes General Electric, Whirlpool, and Steelcase, in addition to Electrolux. “Today, Custom Profile is a leader in the appliance and office furniture industries, but because of our commitment to quality and the manufacturing versatility that exists within our facilities, there are quite a few other markets we find our services desired in and applicable towards, such as marine and automotive.”

Volume and Quality
Rhoades, who’s been with the company since 1999, says that the progression from a small, local extruder to the 230-plus employee, international manufacturer that Custom Profile operates as today has resulted from a number of different factors, but perhaps chief among such has been their ability to successfully marry quality with speed of production in their products. “We excel in the higher volume-type of product because of how we’re able to achieve such a high degree of proficiency in what we make while still meeting the increasingly shortened lead times that define the industries we compete in,” says Rhoades.

While they aren’t necessarily alone in this endeavor, what sets Custom Profile apart is the wide range of services they are able to consistently deliver such quality through, including: Assembly, dual durometer extrusions, heat forming, in-line taping, in-line texturizing, in-line wood graining, notching, punching, routing, sawing, sonic welding, and special packaging and labeling. “Throughout our company’s history, we have been able to combine years of practical experience with technical knowledge to bring streamlined solutions to our customers, which really allows their ideas to not only take shape, but take off,” says Rhoades.

All of this success can be traced directly back to the company’s Grand Rapids and Juárez facilities, which are both ISO 9001:2008 certified and feature diverse sets of resins to enable them bring any kind of material solution that their customers may need. “Our control over our manufacturing process is central to our success, and at the foundation of this is the material compounds we utilize to make our products,” he says, adding, “We have a number of different options to choose from, including ABS, rigid PVC, polyethylene, TPE’s, TPU’s, high impact polystyrene, flexible PVC, and polypropylene.”

This kind of quality is desired and respected by their customer base, but running parallel to this strength is the company’s aforementioned operational efficiency. Speaking on his company’s reputation for quick production and speedy delivery, Rhoades says that both of their facilities run an around-the-clock schedule, five days a week. “By always staying up and active, we allow ourselves an added level of flexibility in how we produce and take on additional projects,” he says, continuing, “Many of our customers give us three to four day leads times, and we relish the opportunity to not only meet such requests on a weekly manner, but exceed them wherever possible; an aspect fueled by our talented in-house team of engineers.”

Cultivating Value
Product quality and a consistent, controlled manufacturing presence define Custom Profile’s success, but ensuring all of this is a dedicated, hard working employee base—an area the company has greatly invested in. “Our employees go through rigorous training, as we make sure they have a full understating of what we call the Custom Profile ‘black book’,” Rhoades says, adding, “and by that I mean not only are they fully aware of the corporate and industry requirements that guide our day to day operations, but that they’re also educated on our culture of responsibility and community involvement.”

Taking this cultural sentiment a step further, in addition to in-house events held monthly that are dedicated towards raising money for a specific cause, Custom Profile participated last year in the national holiday Manufacturing Day—a day in October dedicated to spreading awareness about modern manufacturing in the United States and what a career in it can lead to.

It speaks strongly to the workforce at Custom Profile, whom Rhoades says is full of individuals who truly care about their job and delivering a higher level of performance and output. “We’re a growing company, but the family-like environment we have fostered over the years has led to a committed workforce, something we view as critical to our present and future success.”

For Custom Profile, it’s a company that is excelling both inside and out, utilizing a motivated employee base to bring the best possible plastic products to their customers. It’s a healthy position to be in, and with a strategic production presence already in position and a high profile customer base to match it, Custom Profile looks like a safe bet to continue its fast rise across multiple industrial markets here in the United States.

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