Smith Brothers to build multi-million dollar addition

Authored by Jim Langham on Feb 15, 2013

Steve Lehman, president of Smith Brothers of Berne, Inc., has announced that the company, one of the premier businesses of northeast Indiana, hopes to begin construction of another phase of expansion this spring and summer.
The cost of the project, Lehman said, will be between $3 million and $5 million and will house more manufacturing production including cutting, sewing and assembly.
The new project will give opportunity for at least 20 new employees, said Lehman.
“We are looking to hire 20 more employees,” said Lehman. “We want to bring them to the company and launch them into a training program. We won’t fill all of the positions until sometime in April.
“We’ve heard that Ficosa might be closing. We might be able to have some of their employees come here,” added Lehman.
Lehman said that the company currently employs in the range of 320 employees, but once the new addition is completed, he hopes to be in the 342 employee range.
“We have a couple of very large customers looking at us right now,” said Lehman. “We are sitting on the biggest backlog situation in the history of the company right now. We have 7,000 pieces on order and waiting for manufacturing. It’s just unbelievable.”
Lehman said that new construction could include phases three and four of company plans or doing step three, then waiting for a period of time before building step four.
In the past few years, the company has built several projects costing a million dollars or more.
Under Lehman’s leadership, the company has seen several decades of growth. Smith Brothers’ products are now sold in over 30 states and in Canada.
The facility, which started as a 12,000 square foot building in 1926, has expanded 25 times its original size to nearly 300,000 square feet in two buildings to accommodate growth.
“Our company was founded in 1926 on the principle that honesty, integrity and hard work are important factors to a successful business,” said Lehman. “These are values we do not take lightly. We do not cut corners in our process or misrepresent our product. We believe that the quality of our furniture and our reliability as a manufacturer speak much louder than anything we can say about them.”
Most recently, the company purchased a huge leather cutter from France; one that Lehman says is the first of its kind in the United States.
“This is far ahead in technology. They chose us to be the first place to see one,” Lehman said. “We just trained our workers on it two weeks ago.”
Lehman credited company success to consistently high standards of construction quality, keeping up with latest styles, superior customer service to dealers and an emphasis on quality, selection, service and speed.
“We have sought top professionals from other industries to introduce new technological initiatives which has enabled us to grow our operation while reducing cycle time to just three to four weeks from order to delivery,” said Lehman.

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