ONEIDA, N.Y.–Sherrill Manufacturing is a new company that is really quite old.
Once the heart of Oneida’s manufacturing operations, the factory, now under the ownership and direction of former Oneida executives, is positioning itself to be a major supplier to flatware manufacturers.
Three years ago, Matt Roberts and Greg Owen purchased the Sherrill factory from Oneida when Oneida decided to move all of its production overseas. The purchase included the 1.1 million-square-foot factory, about 3,000 square feet of warehouse space, all equipment and its employees.
Roberts, an engineer by training, had run the Sherrill plant for Oneida. Owen, meanwhile, has a background in the steel business and experience in running flatware factories.
Mike Foster, who left Oneida in 1999 after 22 years with the company, most recently as visual merchandise manager, returned to Sherrill in 2005 and serves as a traffic manager and steel broker. Pete Fobare, who served as Oneida’s senior vice president and general manager when he retired in 2005, recently joined Sherrill, and, like the others, wears “many hats.”
“We’re a young company, but an old company in terms of experience,” Fobare said.
The company still manufactures flatware for Oneida, along with tooling and some packaging. The goal, however, is to be a much bigger original-equipment manufacturer and private-label merchandise source. The facility has the capacity to produce more than 100 million pieces per year. “It could be one-stop shopping for products,” Roberts said.
Despite the softening economy and the increasing challenges facing flatware manufacturers, Sherrill executives see an opportunity to make inroads in the business. In fact, Fobare believes the company may have an advantage as a domestic manufacturer. Pricing pressures, an unfavorable currency exchange, freight issues and other rising costs of doing business overseas have helped renew interest in American-made goods.
“There’s still huge interest in the ‘Made in America’ label,” Fobare said. — Allison Zisko