Manufacturing companies need Internet, too

  • New England Forest Products takes in local pieces of wood to cut into boards that can be used for flooring and other applications.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Employee Shawn Durgin grades the wood boards after they are cut down to size. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • New England Forest Products in Greenfield recently invested in new computer technology for their manufacturing plant.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, October 10, 2016

The manufacturing industry certainly wasn’t built with the internet in mind, but many Monadnock region companies say business wouldn’t function as efficiently without it.

“The internet has helped us to streamline everything,” said Tim Graves, segment manager with Warwick Mills in New Ipswich. “It allows us to interact faster with our employees and to move them based on demands.”

Graves said 95 percent of Warwick Mills sales are web based, a process that has allowed the company to sell their fire-protective textiles across the globe.

Warwick Mills is run completely through Google Cloud and other Google applications, allowing the company to have instantaneous communication throughout its different sectors. Graves said that employees can be moved around immediately if it is noticed that one segment of the business is being over- or under-worked, allowing for top efficiency.

For now, much of Monadnock Paper Mill’s internet presence is used for analytics, social media, and outbound communication, but that could one day change, according to Lisa Berghaus, manager of marketing and communication.

Berghaus said the mill currently sells its products through distributors in large amounts, but the company could look in the future to sell smaller amounts through online retail.

“It’s something that is under consideration, but it would present its own challenges,” said Berghaus. “Right now, we sell 40,000 pounds of paper, not 25 pieces.”

Berghaus said that overall, internet has given the company more ability to reach a wider audience, as the internet can connect Monadnock Paper Mill to interested parties across the globe.

“This isn’t the type of company that can advertise locally,” said Berghaus. “Without a web presence, the company could cease to exist.”

Deb Buxton, owner of New England Forest Products, said that much of her and her husband’s business has come via word of mouth and repeat customers, but there has been a small market for online sales, as 40 percent of all retail sales are because of the internet. Forestry and wholesale are still largely in store sales, according to Buxton.

The largest benefit that internet provides New England Forest Products, according to Buxton, is communication with customers.

“Most of our communication with our customers is done through the internet now,” said Buxton.

Katie Warner, a controller with New England Forest Products, said internet service often goes out on site, with something as simple as someone accessing Facebook on their phone enough to shut it down.

New England Forest Products is working to upgrade its internet through Fairpoint, but the process will not be cheap. Due to there not being a dense enough population in the area, Warner said the company’s bill is expected to jump from about $75 a month to over $300.

“We don’t really have any other choice, because we need the internet,” said Warner.

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.