Most of you are aware that we began an aggressive approach to shorten and "fix" our lead times to a 2-3 week target during the recession of 2008 and 2009. Over the past eight years, the team at VT has worked very hard to deliver a different philosophy on lead times than other manufacturers.
In 2008, we started an aggressive series of capital investments, capacity projects and continuous improvement efforts that finished up last year giving us 50% more capacity. These efforts allowed us to fulfill our commitment to you of a 2-3 week lead time for eight years in a row. Last year we looked ahead, and seeing a very strong market in 2017 and beyond, we once again embarked on a large capital project.
We have coined this project “20k” and it includes over $20 Million of investment in facilities, automated equipment and people to keep up with demand and our fixed lead time strategy. This large project will take our capacity up substantially but it won’t be in place until early 2018.
We are experiencing a very strong start to 2017 and the volume of new orders in the past ten weeks has been well over our current maximum capacity. While the front office and manufacturing operations are running very efficiently, we are truly running above capacity. This is a better problem to deal with than the alternative, but a challenge none the less!
The stronger than planned volume has caused us to push lead times for the first time in many years. In fact, we have reinstated a weekly lead time sheet, something we discontinued two years ago to be consistent with our fixed lead times strategy. Until our 20K project is completed we want to ensure that we are communicating our lead time status weekly, and as openly as possible. After eight years of lead time performance, our team takes it very personally to be publishing longer lead times than what our customers and friends have come to expect.
I felt that it was important to get a communication to you to assure you that VT is committed to our strategy of being the fastest and most consistent door company in the industry. Please find attached pictures of our capacity project below for your review.
We will continue to work hard to earn your business day in and day out!
Senior Vice President, Architectural Wood Door Division