BY: Bob Glenn, Editor
From the Archives: This article originally appeared in the March/April 2021 issue of Wire Rope Exchange.
Arabi Sling & Rigging Co., Inc. kicked off the new year in 2021 with a move to a new location. The facility at 4700 East Judge Perez in Meraux, Louisiana is only about seven miles from their previous location. So why the move? We reached out to Paul Foret, Director of Sales and Marketing, to learn more.
As it turns out, the primary motivation for the move was quite simply to have more space. In fact, this move provides a dramatic upgrade nearly tripling the footprint. “We were operating out of two facilities previously and the combined square footage was around 18,000. Our new facility is 53,000 square feet,” said Foret. Arabi Sling has dedicated about 30,000 square feet – more than half the space – to climate-controlled production and testing. Another 5,000 square feet are occupied by office space. The remainder is presently used for raw goods and finished inventory.
The move is something the company had been contemplating for several years, but they had been unable to identify a suitable location. Their persistence paid off, as “This (location) came on Louis’ radar somewhat out of the blue and it seemed to be the perfect fit.” Foret recounts.
To better appreciate how the company will make use of the space, let’s start with a closer look at what Arabi Sling does. “We are primarily a manufacturer of Roundslings and Web Slings that service many industries throughout the U.S. and overseas,” Foret told us. “We only offer our products to and through distributors and do not sell direct to end-users. Our primary business is supporting existing synthetic sling manufacturers with their current need, sometimes that is with overflow or stock items, or maybe a hot rush. This allows our partners to keep their production flexible and ready to help with customer needs, instead of filing up their shop with busy work and not having the time to react to their customer efficiently.”
We wanted to understand more about the industries and applications that Arabi Sling’s products typically see. “We rarely know where our slings are being used or in what industry due to the nature of selling through distributors.”
With that in mind, the company emphasizes that they view their partners and distributors as an extension of themselves, and stand ready to support their efforts. That can include marketing support, training for their teams on proper use and handling on synthetics products, and even joint sales calls if a partner would find that helpful.
Foret expanded on that, adding “We always remind our team that regardless of the name or quantity on the order, every order is treated like a new customer. We keep our lead times and pricing as consistent as possible so that our partners have the confidence to quote aggressively and get the order.”
An Enduring Family Legacy
Without a doubt, this is a family business straight through, whether you look from the ground up or the top down. The company was founded in 1972 by Mr. Louis Flores Jr. in his home garage. The company is now owned and operated by two of the founder’s children and one of their spouses – Louis Flores III and his wife Trudy R. Flores and Holly Flores Donnelly. Over the years, all of Louis’s and Holly’s children have had their summer “internships” with the company and over the past several years the third generation, Louis Jr’s grandchildren, have become more involved and have taken on larger roles in the company. Travis and Dustin Donnelly, Holly’s children, are now integral parts in the Operation of AS&R.
While the new location is several miles from the prior locations, the family is strongly rooted to its community, so the move is very much about that extra space rather than other considerations such as customer traffic that might come into play when thinking about relocating a business. While vendors often visit the company, and a few local distributors collect their purchases on-site, most of their sales are shipped with LTL freight carriers. Importantly, the new location has the same access to US Highway 90 and Interstate 10 – key transport links for the region.
Foret explains, “The family is proud to have grown our business in St. Bernard Parish, just outside of Metro New Orleans, and I think our goal was always to stay in, and continue to support, St. Bernard Parish. We also tried to find something that did not affect the employees commutes too much and put an unnecessary burden on them.” He sums it up succinctly by adding that, “The ultimate goal was finding the right size and layout to design the shop we envisioned.”
That vision includes both adding inventory and creating more efficient production space. Foret continues, “Adding inventory and creating more efficient production space is our primary goal at this point. We sell quite a bit of raw goods to other sewing facilities, so this will allow us to increase our inventory to better serve those customers, while ensuring we maintain enough inventory for our own production.”
The company is considering opportunities to stock more and/or new synthetic products, which may include both raw materials and finished goods. In the longer term, they have also discussed adding in product lines they don’t now carry, which could potentially include wire rope and chain, extending their reach beyond synthetics. Expanding testing and repair services is another area that the new space will allow Arabi to consider going forward. Their 600,000 lb. capacity test bed is now primarily used to meet their own in-house needs.
But the initial focus is squarely on supporting high availability in current product lines. “With the level of growth we continue to experience, we want to make sure we are able to maintain customer service and lead time expectations that our existing distributors are accustomed to while providing that same service to our new partners.” Foret explains.
As for the other key plank in their vision, Foret notes that “The space really allowed us to design the flow of our shop to work in the most efficient way possible.” But that doesn’t immediately translate into a need to enlarge the company’s staff. While citing shipping/receiving roles and testing operations as prospectively driving a need for a larger group of team members in the future, he emphasizes that, “We currently have 40 employees that know how to get the job done!”
The Market Evolves
As Arabi Sling situates itself in its improved plant, we also wanted to understand what kinds of developments and trends they see in the marketplace for synthetic products. They shared three specific product trends they’ve noted recently and see continuing to evolve in the future.
They reported substantial growth in demand for their Big Easy High Performance Roundsling, as their use becomes more common in a variety of industries. These slings weigh less and deliver higher capacity than previous products, making them easier for riggers to safely handle especially in the larger capacity sizes. They also feature low stretch (1% at rated capacity) – that reduces elastic bounce for better load control, allows for their use in most low-headroom situations, and reduces potential for sling and load abrasion.
Abrasion Protection and Cut Protection products are another important focus area for synthetics, and serve to promote safety across the lifting industry. That shouldn’t be surprising when we note that cutting is the leading cause of synthetic sling failure. “Manufacturers are really getting creative in this segment and we are seeing significant strides that will help to continue creating the safest work environments possible.” Foret observed.
They also cited Textile Chain. “Textile Chain continues to be an interesting product in the lifting and lashing industries and we are excited to be able to offer Doleco’s Textile Chain product.” said Foret. Doleco®’s revolutionary DoNova® PowerLash Textile Lashing Chain and Tie Down System is made of high-performance Dyneema® fiber. Dyneema®’s ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) material is 15 times stronger than steel by weight, and made into chain, up to 85 percent lighter — so lightweight, in fact, that it floats on water! Doleco notes that one operator can handle lashing chains in the DoNova product line with more than 60 feet of usable length.
Of course, revolutionary products get a lot of attention and are always important in seeking growth for any business. But subtle evolution in both what you use and how you use it are always significant contributors to any business. Foret expresses it this way: “We continue to make improvements to our processes and materials that we use in all of our product lines and we believe these will allow us to continue expanding in some key areas and industries moving forward.”
After the challenges of the past year, we are excited to see companies around our industry like Arabi investing in their businesses and planning for the future. Here’s to their success, and yours, in 2021!
You can learn more by visiting the company online at www.arabisling.com.