The DeArment family keeps Channellock competitive with continuous improvement

Quality comes first

Channellock prides itself on making as much as it can in its factory. If that’s not possible, it tries to source it from another quality U.S. manufacturer. Only as a last resort does the company look overseas, Jon says. Right now, about 94 percent of Channellock products are made in the U.S.

The key is to make sure the quality is still there, such as the company’s adjustable wrenches that come from Spain, he says. But everything doesn’t always work out so smoothly.

With the Code Blue plier line, a customer asked for a comfort slip-on grip for professional users. When Channellock had trouble finding a domestic source, Jon says they worked with that customer to find a Taiwanese company that could mold the grips. The individual cost was lower, but Channellock had to manage the supply chain and an extended delivery time.

Unfortunately, the Taiwanese company shut down. Its doors were locked and Channellocks’ molds were gone.

“It was like, ‘Uh oh, what are we going to do now?’” Jon says. “I actually worked with a friend of mine from high school who was in plastics engineering. He says, ‘You know, we can do this. Let’s put our heads together and figure out how to do this.’ And we were able to design a new mold, have it manufactured locally, and then took it to a plastics house in town here.”

While the cost was higher, the end product was better quality.

“You have to focus on quality and value to your consumer, your customer,” Jon says. “If you do those two things, I think you can be competitive. But to do those things, you have to be steadfast in continuous improvement. The way you did things today isn’t going to be good tomorrow.”

Takeaways:

  • You can stay competitive with a focus on quality and value.
  • The way you do things today won’t be good enough tomorrow.
  • High expectations require extra communication efforts.

 

The file:

Name: Jon DeArment
Title: President and COO
Company: Channellock Inc.

Born: Meadville, Pennsylvania
Education: Bachelor’s from Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania, studying business management

What was your first job and what did you learn from it? My first job would have been riding the tractor and cutting the grass over at Plant 2. I learned to make sure you come to work. When you’re the boss’s son, not showing up is a bad thing.

Did you always want to work in the family business? I think so, honestly. When I was younger, at one point, I wanted to be an architect. But as I grew up and became more in tune with the company and what it was, and the products, and what all was involved, I thought it was definitely something I wanted to do. I wasn’t sure what exactly.

I spent many summers working in maintenance or the machine shop — around the machines, cleaning, painting, scrubbing, you name it. When I started college, studying business, I started to look at the operations side more and more. I spent an internship in engineering, doing a little work on layouts and lean manufacturing ideas. That’s where I found my niche, in the operations side.

How many family members are involved with Channellock now? My father is the chairman and CEO. My brother is vice president of sales and marketing. At this point, that’s it. I have a high school daughter who is taking the path that I did, working in the factory in the summer.

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received? Keep track of the pennies and the dollars will take of themselves.

Where is someone most likely to find you on a weekend? I enjoy boating, water sports, golfing and riding motorcycles in my spare time.