BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. – Solid wood case goods manufacturer Gat Creek is expanding its plant here by a third, a project that will allow for 75% growth in production capacity when operational next December.
The company said it is adding 30,000 square feet to its existing 100,000-square-foot plant, a project that will represent a roughly $4 million investment in construction and new finishing and woodworking equipment.
The company also is in the process of hiring another 24 workers, which would bring its total to about 160.
Company CEO Gat Caperton said the project has been driven by a surge in orders during the second half, which has occurred in response to demand for its domestically produced line of bedroom, dining room and occasional furniture.
During the third quarter alone, the company had a 40% increase in orders from the same time last year. Orders are projected to increase 25% in the fourth quarter from the same time in 2019.
“I have long dreamed of a day when we could run our factory at full capacity,” Caperton said. “Unfortunately, it really doesn’t work that way. When more orders come in; we need capacity to build more furniture.”
Due to the increase in demand and backlog, lead times have also stretched from six weeks to 15 weeks. The company communicates its lead times to customers on its website and noted that it ships more than 95% on time, with most of the remaining shipments no more than one week late.
The expansion will help reduce the lead times, but by how much depends on how quickly the company can run through its backlog.
“We continue to increase the speed of manufacturing, but the incoming orders are coming in faster,” Caperton said, noting that, since this summer, the company has been adding about 5% capacity every two months as part of the expansion process. “We are adding capacity as fast as we can.”
“The factory is running great,” Caperton added. “Our customers are just running faster than us.”
He estimated that by the summer, the plant’s existing capacity will be at its limit in the current 100,000-square-foot plant.
Caperton said that trees are now being cleared for the expansion, adding that the actual foundation and building construction will start in the spring once the winter snows melt.