Premier Puts Full Court Press on New
By Steve Ehle
press on new
New short-cycle TFM line complements
existing RTF and HPL lines with precise
color and grain match
dvanced automation and software integration — in
any application — are nothing new to Andy Wilzoch.
He seeks it out. He embraces it. He absorbs it. Then
he begins looking for other cutting-edge technologies that
can bring his company to yet another level.
Wilzoch, owner and president of Premier EuroCase, Inc.
and newly formed Roucke, Inc., has grown his panel processing business from a simple one-man operation turning out
frameless casegoods to a fully integrated producer of commercial store fixtures for the retail and food service sectors,
plus full service panel processing on a national scale.
Customers include Quiznos Subs, The Sports Authority,
Sportmart, Oshman’s SuperSports stores, and Gart Sports, to
name a few. Products include anything from counters, seating, tables and casegoods. Typically, Premier partners with
designers and contractors to produce unique products in low
volumes to high production jobs.
“Our growth has come from a philosophy of providing
solid service to our customers and our ability to offer unique
products and solutions,” Wilzoch explains. “Still, to ensure
short-cycle thermofused melamine
Machinery at its
Denver plant. The
line joined two
other lines — one
panels, the other
panels. Upper left
is the infeed station of the new
line. The entire
line, left, is 230
feet in length
and takes up
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and R shed: Premie
tures fo rvice
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retail an essing on a na l and national;
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Premier roduct out of C et.
factured e Colorado m
00 sq. ft
ring/lam ate $18 million
split 70 les volume
continued growth and competitiveness
in the market, our edge has come from
continuously investing in the latest
technology available to the woodworking industry.”
New melamine line
Wilzoch says one key to the success
of his company is the
integration of software
“After we receive an
order, we begin finalizing the design and material requirements using
AutoCAD and Cut Rite
software to optimize
the material going into
the designs,” Wilzoch
says. “With this software, we can prepare
an accurate estimate of
the time needed to complete the components
and fixtures required. In
the end, we’ll also preassemble all new projects to guarantee fit and
finish. Our system also
product labels for each
item shipped that corresponds to the installation guide for the installing contractor.”
But software integration is just part of this
success story. Premier
recently added a new
melamine (TFM) shortcycle press line from
Stiles Machinery. In
doing so, Wilzoch and his
staff established a new
laminating services sister
company, called Roucke,
Inc.. The company had
the melamine panels to
make its cabinet and fixture components.
The new line allows
Premier/Roucke to produce its own TFM panels in-house, as well as
supply melamine panels
for other companies in
Colorado. But TFM is
only part of the story.
Premier/Roucke is also
positioned to supply
high pressure laminate
(HPL) panels and RTF
(rigid thermal foil) pan-
els to its customers, in addition to the
TFM panels and components.
In fact, Premier/Roucke can handle projects in-house that incorporate
TFM, HPL and RTF in one fixture, with
precise color and grain match for all
Says Wilzoch: “By not having to out-
source any of these items is the difference between getting the job and
not being able to even bid on it. It’s a
tremendous advantage for us.”
Wilzoch was recently interviewed
by Wood Digest about this project and
Wood Digest: What is your manu-
ON INQUIRY CARD
facturing philosophy, i.e., do you
practice Lean Manufacturing or
similar programs and how do you
integrate your IT program into your
Andy Wilzoch: We practice both
traditional and Lean Manufacturing as
required. I believe that both philosophies can exist in harmony. The “Make
a long roster of
Holzma HPP11 panel saws,
twin table router, Weeke BP100 machining
BP-145 machining center, two
contour edgebanders (above), Homag SE-9300
edgebander, Homag KLO-78 edgebander, Homag
SSE-760 edgebander, Gannomat Index 125
horizontal drill and dowel inserter. Plus, two
Altendorf F-45 sliding table saws (one an Elmo
programmable unit), Gannomat Elite 24 horizontal drill and dowel inserter, Gannomat Spectrum
feed through horizontal drill and dowel inserter,
Ligmatech Ecomat ZHR 01 panel return device
for edgebander, and a Comil feed through case
clamp. The plant is supported by Q Systems roller conveyors and transfer cart system.
one, Pass one” Lean system has obvious benefits for those who are willing to invest in the required technology to achieve the desired results. The
“economy of scale” Traditional system
should not be pushed aside solely on
the popularity of the Lean philosophy. I
believe that if you are a true student of
manufacturing you find they both work
if applied properly.
WD: What is your overall production scheme — from order entry to
ship of a typical job?
AW: Our production scheme is quite
straightforward from material procurement to shipping.
I think we are a little different in our
approach to each project because of
our ability to respond quickly to customers’ demands on speed. Whether
its full project prototyping in only days,
from concept to acceptance, or custom
melamine panels that are cut the day
that they were produced, we’ve made
the capital investment in the right technologies to achieve the highest level of
WD: You say that your machines
“talk” to each other through bar
codes and direct lines. Is this still
the case? Have you instituted any
other IT programs, like order entry
to ship in a seamless manner?
AW: All of our CNC machines are
networked just like workstations in
the office. We believe in simplicity
and common sense when it comes to
the movement of critical information
from machine to machine. We use only
Homag Group equipment for all of our
networked machines because of its
superior performance and commonality of software for information transfers. Manufacturing at a high level is
controlled chaos at best, so we believe
that using the most stable and supported platform available is one way to
WD: How do you go to market?
Direct? Distributors? Other?
AW: We have a different approach
than most to sales and marketing. We
have no sales department to speak of;
we take the direct approach to our cus-
tomers so that we have nothing lost in
translation between our manufacturing
and the needs of our customers. Yes,
this has an impact on our total sales
potential, but we, as a company, feel it
is more important to have a one-on-one
relationship with our customers to guarantee performance in this day of just-intime manufacturing. Our annual growth
still averages between 15 to 20 percent.
Our new laminating company, Roucke,
Inc., uses local distribution companies
for sales of our thermofused melamine
products to the local market, with some
direct sales to larger customers.
WD: What sort of laminating system were you using before you added
the Wemhoner system/line? When was
installation completed? Dimensions
of the line? Take us through the line
from beginning to end.
AW: Before the installation of our
new 5’ x 12’ Wemhoner press we purchased melamine panels through the
same distribution companies that sell
our melamine panels now. The installation took approximately 16 weeks
from the initial delivery of the 20-plus
containers to when the first board was
produced in mid-October 2004. The
press is approximately 230 ft. long and
consumes over 15,000 sq. ft. of floor
space. It starts with the fully automated
material infeed into a panel cleaner.
Saturated paper is laid up top and bottom, and then sent into the press for
approximately 15 seconds of press time
— with a total mechanical time of
about 27 seconds per panel. Then on
to the edge trimmer. It bevels all four
edges so there are no sharp edges on
the perimeter of the panels. Next is the
inspection station where we inspect
the top and bottom of every panel.
At this point the panels are carried
vertically through the cooling station
for proper conditioning of the panels.
Panels remain in the Wemhoner 5’X12’ press for approximately 15 seconds. The total mechanical
time is 27 seconds per panel. Both top and bottom of panels are laminated simultaneously. One
person operates the entire line.
Shown is the outfeed panel carrier
cell which carries the panels vertically
through a cooling station for proper
conditioning. This process relieves
stress on the panels.
This is a critical step in the process
because it relieves the stress in the panels through cooling. The panels are then
sent through another cleaning brush
before the automatic vacuum stacking
station places the panels on one of the
three outfeed conveyors for transfer to
the strapping station.
WD: Why did you choose this particular technology and
supplier? What advantages have you seen so
far? Higher productivity? Improved quality?
Cost savings? Has it
improved your order-toship timetable?
AW: When we decided to purchase the
Wemhoner line through
Stiles Machinery, we used
the same purchasing criteria that we apply to all
of our machinery needs.
Wemhoner and Stiles were
chosen because of the
high level of support we
currently enjoy through
Stiles and the investment that Wemhoner
has made in the United
States over the past several years. The impact to
Premier EuroCase has
been huge, based on our
requirement for melamine
panels in various sizes,
thicknesses and colors on
a just-in-time basis. The
local market also sees
the advantages of a local
press that gives them the
ability to look at projects
that in the past would not
have been possible with
the long lead times that
custom melamine panels have had before. The
custom melamine market
is growing fast with the
requirements of different
core options and the availability of custom colors.
WD: What types of
substrates and overlays do you use on the
line? Speed of the line?
AW: We use a wide variety of substrates (cores) in
our laminating processes
whether it’s high pressure
laminate or thermofused
melamine. We use from
standard Premium Boise
cores to standard MDF,
moisture-resistant MDF, to
wheat board, etc.…The Melamine faces
are primarily Coveright and Dynea. In
the HPL product we use all of the major
WD: You say in your literature
that you specialize in contour edging of components. With the addition of the new laminating line, has
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this enhanced this specialization?
Has the addition of the new line
created any bottlenecks in other
cells in the plant?
AW: The ability of having custom
melamine in a fraction of the time
previously required has led to some
new challenges. When you
are used to waiting six to
eight weeks for materials to
arrive, it’s a shock to the system when you can get almost
anything in three weeks.
These are good challenges.
One of Premier EuroCase’s
more high profile customers is Taco Bell, whose
Express service areas
feature panels produced
at the Premier’s Denver
— Callout Byline
We produce a large volume of
components for other shops,
whether it’s a simple piece or a
complex contoured component.
Lead times are critical because
it’s just a small part of the customers’ overall product and they
typically needed it yesterday.
So having a melamine press inhouse reduces the overall leadtimes for our customers.
WD.: As a business owner,
what is your biggest challenge?
AW: As a small shop trying to
compete with the larger ones,
we’re aware that it is the nature
of this company that makes us
successful. Being lean and flexible is difficult to maintain as a
large shop, so managing growth
is our single largest challenge.
WD: Has foreign competition affected your ability to
grow your business and attain
the margins you target? Why
or why not?
AW: One benefit of producing custom store fixtures and
components is that just by the
nature of the product it’s difficult
to import something that will
change in specification five times
while it’s on the water.
Visit Premier Eurocase at its
temporary website, www.roucke.
com. The new site, www.pre-
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For more information on each of
the sources cited in this article
or circle the appropriate number
on the inquiry card.
AutoCAD software.................. 233
Boise particleboard................ 159
Coveright melamine................ 160
CutRite software.................... 234
Dynea melamine ................... 161
Stiles/Wemhoner press line.... 206
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