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More Than Just A Name

Superior Fabrics proves that customer satisfaction is the key to long-term success.

The Superior Companies, consisting of Superior Fabrics Inc. and Superior Shade and Blind Co. Inc., Pompano Beach, Fla., have seen tremendous growth since moving their operations from New York to Florida in the 1980s. While the company made its name with interior blinds, the last decade saw the fabric side of the company expand dramatically. Superior is a completely vertically integrated facility with warping, carding, knitting, dyeing, finishing and foam coating all done on-site. The company produces products that are exported globally to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Europe, Singapore, Korea and China.Superior was founded in 1895. Today it is run by the Fryburg family, with Robert Fryburg serving as president of Superior Fabrics and David Fryburg as president of Superior Shade and Blind. While the two divisions are run separately, corporate decisions are made jointly by the Fryburgs.Window DressingIn 1972, Superior manufactured only window shades in an 8,000-square-foot facility in Harlem, N.Y. The company then moved to a 36,000-square-foot facility in Manhattan. While in Manhattan, Superior brought colors and styles to the window shade industry that had not previously been available. In the late 1970s, the company began manufacturing vertical blinds and rode its wave of success into the 1980s.The company moved to its current location in 1984. An increased demand for stitch-bonded fabric started in 1985, due to its ability to be easily dyed. Superiors first line of stitch-bonded fabric was available in 86 colors. Today, the company produces more than 600 different colors and styles.New MarketsSuperior Fabrics began as an in-house operation to supply 100-percent polyester greige fabric to its Superior Shade and Blind division. By 1987, the company began looking outside its operation to sell its greige fabric, first supplying the mattress ticking market by selling directly to converters.The next few years saw Superior enter new markets, which meant producing new products as well. The company now supplies stitch-bonded print-cloth and ticking fabric to the shoe industry as well as roofing, outdoor furniture, industrial fabrics and window treatments markets.The Superior Shade and Blind division sells to fabricators along with manufacturing horizontal and vertical blinds for its own shipment directly to its customers.The increase in its product line caused Superior to begin a 120,000-square-foot expansion in 1999. The new expansion provides additional space for nonwoven, knitting and warp tricot-knitting equipment.Superior also has a dyeing and finishing division. The new facility gives the company four buildings on the premises three of which are Superior Fabrics related.The company now has more than 400,000 square feet in manufacturing and warehousing space. The most recent addition allows for a more ergonomic layout and increased inventory space a key element to keeping its customers satisfied."We are very loyal to our customers," said Robert Fryburg. "And our customers are in turn very loyal to us."To Superior, relationships are the key to good business. The companys production and shipping plans are built around that principle. The company has an EDI with its trading partners, and all of its shipping and billing are on-line. This includes linked on-line shipping information with UPS, of which Superior is one of the largest customers in Florida.On The Production Floor
Located in the new manufacturing facility is a mix of both new and older machines. One step the company took in ensuring maximum life from its older machinery was performing preventative maintenance and rebuilding components, such as the bearings on all machines, before reinstalling them in the new facility. This maintenance allows Superior to maximize efficiency and create a better product for its customers.The company purchased a new HDB card with a built-in metal detection device. The company also retrofitted other cards with metal detection devices. According to the company, the HBD card is running almost twice as fast as other cards.A recently purchased OCTIR line is also in place. The line has carding and crosslapping. One of its biggest advantages is its on-line com-munication capability with the manufacturer, Octir Deutschland GmbH, Germany, so technicians can evaluate and diagnose any problems that might occur with the line. This expedites any repairs that might be needed, thus reducing downtime.Also running in the plant is a Hollingsworth double doffer and crosslapper and a line by Tomaja. All needlepunching is done on Dilo needle looms.The next step in manufacturing stitch-bonded greige fabric is knitting. Superior uses 80 high-speed Liba knitting machines to stitch-bond the fabric. The stitch-bonding not only gives strength to the fabric, but also a style and design. All take-up is done on Alexco equipment.Superior has the capability to add many different finishes to its products. These range from foam or vinyl backing in order to add strength and insulative properties to window treatments, fire-retardants and water-resistant coatings. For these processes, Superior uses Menzel frames. Masrob frames, which can be by-passed when not in use, are used for foam-coating applications.The Superior Shade division can slit more than 150,000 yards of fabric for its blinds a day on a Midland slitter. Superior Shade cuts and sews its blinds, taking them from fabric to die-stamped metal to assembly to packaging. This allows Superior to ship its products to retail stores, distribution centers or directly to customers.According to Robert Fryburg, the company is also manufacturing roll-good fabrics for diverse markets.Concern For Customers
Superior Fabrics success is based largely on its customer service. The Fryburgs feel that building and maintaining relationships with customers over the years has directly attributed to the companys success."We try to set ourselves apart by our service," Robert Fryburg said. "We take great pride in the quality and service we provide. We dont try to have the lowest price we deliver price and service with quality work."One of the areas that Superior excels in is its on-time delivery. The company maintains records of the products it has shipped to customers in the past in order to anticipate future deliveries. If a shipment is delayed, Superior calls the customer ahead of time to inform them of the delay. However, a delay is the exception."When something goes out of here, it goes out of here on time," Robert Fryburg said.After the sale, service also sets Superior apart. The company ships some of its products directly to the consumer, so its customer service department handles any customer questions. "Our customer service department handles our ready-made blind questions if there is a problem," Robert Fryburg said. "We put a high priority on the quality of all our work. Our rate of refusal throughout the company is not even 0.5 percent of sales."Customers that buy the companys stitch-bonded greige fabric also get the same support. If a customer calls with a question, the call will be returned."I make it a priority that all calls are returned," Robert Fryburg said. "If someone calls me and I cant get back to them, then I will have someone here call them."The numerous awards won by the company over the past few years for its customer service further attest to Superiors commitment to its customers. The company knows that going out of the way to help its clients gives the customer that extra trust that jobs are done right at Superior.

June 2000