The window-treatment vendor re-establishes a U.S. manufacturing presence with its new South Carolina facility
By David Gill
Within five years of its first century in business, always as a New York-based company, Louis Hornick & Co. is establishing new roots in South Carolina with its new manufacturing facility in Allendale County.
This move stems from two sources. It owes a great deal to the fact that Walmart—which, according to a statement from the retailer, has been a Hornick customer for more than 40 years—has declared its commitment to increase its purchases of U.S.-made products by $50 billion over the next 10 years.
Indeed, the company chose the SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, hosted by Walmart and the U.S. Department of Commerce, as the venue to announce its new facility. Louis Hornick II, the manufacturer’s chairman and CEO, stood with Walmart U.S. President Bill Simon, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and his son, Louis “Tripp” Hornick III, president and chief operating officer, to introduce the new facility.
Also announcing new U.S. manufacturing plants at this event were Elan-Polo, the footwear manufacturer, and EveryWare Global, the housewares and tabletop vendor.
Walmart’s strong voice behind this effort provides an excellent business reason for Hornick to establish a footprint in South Carolina, but there are other good business reasons for doing so. As Louis Hornick II said at the SelectUSA event, “With our new facility, we are not only cost-competitive with China and India, but we reduce our lead time by 50 percent. Our put-through time ensures that an out-of-stock store, from unforecasted demand, is back in stock within the week.”
Putting the cost savings in perspective, Tripp Hornick told HFN that “it will immediately be $2 cheaper for me to make a unit” once the facility is up and running (which was slated for last month). “And that $2 savings will increase down the road,” he added.
The plant will bolster Hornick in other areas besides cost control. “It will help us dramatically with the dot-coms,” Tripp Hornick said. “We can drop-ship faster and more easily manage large drop-ship orders. We will be able to increase our sales by never being out of stock, no matter when the orders come in.”
It will also open new avenues for Hornick’s business. “This allows us to have a significant contract and custom business again,” Tripp Hornick said. “The facility will give us the ability to offer different sizes, sizes customized to individual retailers. It will also help retailers that want to add to the size offerings they already have.”
The new facility does not mean the end of Hornick’s manufacturing abroad. “We will operate under a hybrid approach, manufacturing both here and abroad,” Tripp Hornick said.
It does, however, return Hornick to its U.S. manufacturing roots, which it had left when it closed its manufacturing facility in Haverstraw, N.Y., in 2008—“reluctantly,” as Louis Hornick II expressed it. That plant, which opened in 1949, replaced the company’s facility located in New York City.
The new location measures 103,000 square feet on 28 acres. “Our goal is to be a U.S. manufacturer and to have fun with the industry,” Tripp Hornick said. “We want to control our own destiny and have the ability to fix things immediately if they go very, very bad. We will now have greater quality control on our products.”
Technically, he added, Hornick’s headquarters will remain in New York City, but the new facility will include an office and Louis Hornick II will relocate to that area. For him, this will constitute a return to his own roots with the company. At age 16, he began to work on the floor of the factory in Haverstraw, and spent his summer holidays training and performing every craft in the facility.
“He loves being in a plant,” Tripp Hornick said of his father. “He’s a real roll-up-your-sleeves guy. He could run any machine on the floor.”
In his remarks at the SelectUSA summit, Louis Hornick said that among the Hornick brands that will be produced at the new factory will be its firefend line of flame-resistant curtains. “Our revolutionary firefend brand of window treatments exemplifies our philosophy and commitment to excellence, which has brought us close to our centennial,” he said.
Tripp Hornick said the factory will initially account for about 90 percent of the total production of firefend, and that the goal is to push this eventually to 99 percent.
Another company goal for the new facility is to have it serve as the destination for current and potential retail customers to view future new-product launches. “We want people to visit us in South Carolina,” Tripp Hornick said. “Just come on in.”