C.E. Smith, which makes marine equipment sold by retailers and custom-designed parts for airlines, is projecting 23% growth in sales this year.

C.E. Smith Co. Inc. is a small manufacturer with a big market reach—making products ranging from fishing rod holders sold to retail chains to custom-made metal parts for airline seats—and a big growth curve to boot.

The privately held company, based in Greensboro, N.C., with some 55 employees, doesn’t report revenue figures but is projecting growth in sales this year of 23% over 2016. And that’s coming off increases of 13% last year and 15% in 2015.

C.E. Smith is benefitting from ongoing demand for its products—it also specializes in making parts for utility trailers sold to retail chains like Tractor Supply along with fishing gear to Bass Pro Shops, West Marine and other chains. And its custom contract work has large corporate clients in industries including telecommunications and aerospace.

We’re hoping to boost sales to small retailers who might not realize all that we carry.
Scott Noyes, purchasing and I.T. manager
C.E. Smith

But it’s also benefitting from a multi-pronged system of connecting electronically with its customers through e-commerce and EDI, says Scott Noyes, manager of purchasing and I.T.

Smith does much of its sales through EDI connections with its major retailer customers, along with a newly developed e-commerce platform for taking online orders from small retailers and individual consumers. It also takes orders in person via account managers from its contract manufacturing clients.

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Going forward, Noyes says, Smith expects to process more orders from its small retailer clients through its recently launched business-to-business web portal, which runs on the same Nexternal e-commerce software that also runs its consumer site. That, he adds, will have multiple benefits. It will replace the tendency of many small retailers to place orders via phone or fax—often with hundreds of SKUs per order—freeing up Smith employees from having to manually enter those orders into its enterprise resource planning system, increasing the speed and accuracy of processing and fulfilling orders. “What used to take days, now takes minutes,” he says, adding that employees will have more time to address customers’ special needs instead of entering order data.

Nexternal is part of HighJump Inc., which also provides Smith’s TrueCommerce EDI system. All orders received through EDI and the e-commerce platform are automatically forwarded to Smith’s Global Shop Solutions ERP system to update financial and inventory records.

Smith also figures the web portal will serve as an effective way to display more products to customers. “We’re hoping to boost sales to small retailers who might not realize all that we carry,” he says.

Eventually, contract manufacturing clients may also use the web portal to complete their orders after working out custom designs with Smith account managers, making it easier and faster to get their order data into Smith’s ERP system, Noyes says.

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