URBANA – Need a tangible example of Clickstop Inc.’s recent growth? How’s this: The company issued a press release last week announcing that its nearly 40 employees had moved into its new facility in Urbana. By week’s end, that employment figure was already out of date because two new employees had been hired.
“We were just talking here in a meeting, and Todd (Kuennen), our CFO, asked how many more people we’ll hire this year,” said CEO Tim Guenther. “But that’s now how we work around here. We’re going to continue to hire throughout the year. It’s hard for me to put a number on it. It’s a balancing act.”
The e-commerce company sells everything from packaging supplies to building equipment to belly-button rings, and business has been booming. It recently opened a new facility that includes a 22,500-square-foot warehouse and 12,500 of office space, and Mr. Guenther said everything is in place to allow those new facilities to expand.
“There’s plenty of room in the office to grow, so probably the first signs of construction here would be in our warehouse,” he said. “That will be a function of how profitable are we, how much cash do we have to redeploy to support our growth. We’ve already talked about our next phase, planned for it. We could expand the facility by four times on this property within one building. And the groundwork is already done, so we can act fast if we need to.”
The new warehouse will help to fuel that growth. Mr. Guenther said employees are much “more efficient in the facility. Changes include improvements to the layout and bin system to streamline order fulfillment, the addition of multiple packaging and shipping stations and an expansion to three docks that allow workers to process multiple incoming and outgoing freight activities at the same time.
“It’s going really well,” he said of post-move operations. “Everybody seems to be working more efficiently. The biggest impact has been in the warehouse because we were so cramped for space, but even in the office, they can spread out more.”
Employees moved into the new facility, which is just outside of Urbana near the intersection of Interstate 380 and Highway 150, in two phases. Warehouse workers moved in late February, while office workers moved in mid March.
Growth is the norm for the company. It added 18 employees in 2010, nearly doubling the staff, and built the office to accommodate as many as 35 more employees.
That growth has been organic, said Mr. Guenther, which is by design. He said the company doesn’t want to go beyond what its bank will provide when seeking financing, which means that it can only grow as fast as its profits will allow.
“I feel like we’re growing organically,” he said. “Sometimes that’s not as fast as we want to, because growing organically means growing responsibly.”
Despite adding several brands over the past two years, its first brand, U.S. Cargo Control, accounts for much of the growth. The brand bills itself as “trucking, hauling, lifting, and rigging problem-solvers,” and continues to grow, Mr. Guenther said.
“That continues to be the driver for our company,” he said. “It’s the business that every other business is riding the coattails of. It continues to outperform the rest of our brands. Even when our other brands are good, solid brands, this one is continually raising the bar.”
US Cargo Control is just one of 10 brands operated by Clickstop. Others include EcoFoil, Space Savers and BellyBling.net.
“One of the key components (of our success) is that we have a lot of diversity,” Mr. Guenther said. “So we can try things. We can learn a lesson there and apply it to our other brands.” CBJ