Manufacturing Today - Summer 2010 - (Page 52)

Bennington / HQ: Elkhart, Ind. / Annual sales: $100 million / Employees: 200 / Steve Vogel, co-founder and president: “In order to have the best product and service, you have to have the best people.” Keeping Afloat keeping customers, employees and dealers happy has steered the success of bennington. by karen wagner bennington manufactures pontoon boats and has been recognized for the quality of its products. many smaller builders, winning consistently can only come from a combination of extraordinary attention to design and construction, married to close attention to customers. Strategic Vision Bennington couldn’t have chosen a more perfect location for the development and enjoyment of power craft. Home to the meandering St. Joseph River, numerous smaller rivers, and countless lakes, Northern Indiana and nearby Southern Michigan provide ideal opportunities for weekenders and retirees to enjoy boating activities. The short boating season also places pressure on boat manufacturers. Technical problems can easily ruin a precious weekend. “A boater has only so many months to use his boat. It’s not like a car,” says Steve Vogel, co-founder, president and CEO of Bennington. “That was really the foundation of our company. We wanted to be the best at quality and service. In order to have the best product and service, you have to have the best people.” Bennington’s corporate vision statement mentions its dealers prominently. That’s because the manufacturer-dealer relationship is critical for a high-end product where the market is recreation. Customer perception of the product is largely shaped by the dealers and their knowledge and concern for the needs of the consumer. Bennington chooses only the top dealers in each geographical region as partners. “Our dealers are the face of our company to the A manufacturer could hardly ask for better customer satisfaction than the kudos “Chip” Frederick Howalt gave to his experience creating a custom pontoon boat from Bennington: “To say that our entire experience with Bennington was exceptional from start to finish would be an understatement. You guys rock! You elevate customer satisfaction and responsiveness to an entirely new level.” Founded in 1997, Bennington focuses on a narrow class of boats – those that make use of pontoons for flotation. This focus quickly led to industry and consumer recognition for Bennington, now the most award52 SUMMER 2010 ed pontoon boat manufacturer in the industry. From inception, Bennington was recognized by Pontoon and Deck Boat magazine for the best-built pontoon boats. Additionally, Bennington has been awarded the pontoon segment CSI award every year since its inception. In 2002, consumer satisfaction and market research firm J.D. Power and Associates began tracking pontoon boat manufacturers. Since that time, Bennington’s products and customer satisfaction levels have been either first or second overall in each J.D. Powers ranking. In an industry with about two dozen national brands and

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Manufacturing Today - Summer 2010

Manufacturing Today - Summer 2010
Global Strategies
Continuous Improvement
Smart Pricing
Supply Chain
Business Value
Moving Forward
Westmark Products
Byrne Dairy
Ultrafryer Systems Inc.
Wil-Rich LLC & Wishek MFG LLC
American Precision Fabricators
Aqua Products Inc.
Black Diamond Equipment
Columbian Home Products
Control Devices LLC
Endustra Filter Manufacturers Inc
Heil Trailer International
Assembled Products
Order-Matic Corp.
Professional Building Systems Inc.
Smart Start Inc
Bosal International
Ausco Products Inc.
Brodart Company
Cambrex Corp.
Chapin International Inc.
Cleveland Gear Co.
Consolidated Precision Products
Control Flow Inc.
Douglas Autotech Corp.
Fetzer Architectural Products
The FNA Group
Fourslide Spring and Stamping Inc.
G.A. West & Company
Great Lakes Power Group
Grimm Brothers Plastics
Legends Furniture Inc.
National Tube Supply Co.
Optex Systems Inc.
Sunburst Electronics
V.E. Enterprises Inc
W. Soule & Company
Manufacturing Tomorrow

Manufacturing Today - Summer 2010