October 2, 2018
Manufacturing insights

Since its Leominster move, AIS profits up 20% with 175 new jobs

Photo | Courtesy
Bruce Platzman, president, CEO and co-founder of AIS, Leominster.

Leominster manufacturer of office furniture AIS is sponsoring an exhibit at the Fitchburg Art Museum called Interior Effects: Furniture in Contemporary Art. In an interview with WBJ, CEO Bruce Platzman spoke about the importance of New England's history of furniture manufacturing, Manufacturing Month and plans for the company's future.

Was it an easy call to jump on board FAM's furniture exhibition? It seems like a natural fit.

As a manufacturer of office systems and furniture for 30 years, this was a natural fit for us as the exhibit focused on New England's history of furniture and design. Additionally, we are proud of our community and welcome opportunities to collaborate with local businesses and organizations in the area. As a MassMade company, we believe in supporting other Massachusetts businesses and giving back to our community - it's part of our culture at AIS.

What influences does AIS take from the state's furniture manufacturing history? Do any particular products come to mind when thinking about that history?

During the Industrial Revolution, Massachusetts changed the way it approached business and economic growth. Manufacturing, particularly in textile mills, was an integral part of the changing and thriving economy here in the state. AIS has changed the way we approach business; we bring charisma to the office furniture market, and with more 700 jobs in our Leominster headquarters, we are proud of the role we are playing in the local economy.

AIS was built on ingenuity. We've truly shaken up the office furniture industry through the manufacturing of our high-end systems and seating at an attractive pricepoint for customers. In less than 30 years, we've evolved from a startup company to one of the most highly regarded names in the industry. Our team at AIS team has virtually reinvented product development and manufacturing processes, helping us grow far faster than industry benchmarks and earning Manufacturer of the Year from the Office Furniture Dealers Alliance eight times since 2008.

How does AIS, based in New England, embody the area's cultural traditions?

AIS was founded in Hudson 30 years ago. Due to growth and expansion, two years ago we found ourselves in need of new office and manufacturing space. We knew we wanted to stay in Massachusetts and expand on what we had already built here. Establishing new roots in Leominster allowed us to continue growing and supporting the local economy here in Massachusetts, and that was important to us. As part of our commitment to the state and the region, we believe in supporting our local community through philanthropic efforts as well as through partnerships with local vendors to obtain goods and services.

AIS is a MassMade company; we pride ourselves on our commitment to the community and the Massachusetts economy. Our commitment to our community, to Massachusetts and to the environment is an important part of our everyday culture at the company.

Manufacturing month has started. Does the company have anything planned?

We are very excited to celebrate Manufacturing Month at AIS. We have a lot of events planned to honor and celebrate the history of manufacturing, while also celebrating our employees who make our work possible every day. We believe in the importance of manufacturing, what it means for the economy but also what it means for all the men and women who make their living through manufacturing jobs. For so many of the men and women working in our factory, this is so much more than just a job to them. Here at AIS, in their role, they have found a path they are passionate about and that supports them and their families.

  • Oct. 5 - We kick off Manufacturing Month off by honoring our factory team with employees appreciation day (this is an annual appreciation and manufacturing kick-off event). We celebrate our employees with awards, and raffle prizes and honor one employee each year with the Barney Platzman Award. Each year, this award is given to one of our factory team members for their hard work and dedication.
  • Oct. 10 - We are hosting the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce and a group of local politicians and business owners as part of the chamber's manufacturing tour.
  • Oct. 11 - We are hosting Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and State Sen. Dean Tran (R-Fitchburg) for an office visit and tour.
  • Oct. 17 - The leading provider of our laminate machinery stiles has chosen three North American companies that use its machinery to visit, AIS being among the three. We are also hosting 60 students from Nashoba Regional High School for "A day in the life" mentor program. The purpose of this program is to educate high school kids on the career opportunities that a company like AIS can offer. Kids will be broken down into two groups: Business in Manufacturing and Production in Manufacturing. Along with a showroom and factory tour, students will have the opportunity to meet with our leadership team who is responsible for various functions within the facility.
  • Oct. 23 - We are hosting a group of students from Fitchburg and Leominster for a factory tour.

More events continue to be added to our calendar.

The company recently consolidated into the large main facility in Leominster. How has business been since?

We have really enjoyed being in our new headquarters in Leominster. Our business continues to grow and expand and we are proud to be outperforming the industry, as we are up over 20 percent on both the top and bottom line. In our more than 600,000-square-foot space in Leominster, we host 750 employees, and all of our office furniture and products are now manufactured and produced on site.

You told us in January 2017 the company would create 100 jobs over the next two years. We're coming up on that two-year mark. Will that come to fruition?

I'm proud to say that we have hit – and surpassed – that bench mark. We have added 175 jobs which brings our total employee count to 750 currently, with plans to add an additional 15 low-tech manufacturing jobs each month going forward. We are proud of our record being able to recruit and retain local talent. At AIS, we want to show young people and adult there are still careers in low-tech manufacturing with a company providing training, offer an English-as-a-second-language program if needed, and support continuing education programs.

This interview was conducted and edited for length and clarity by WBJ Staff Writer Zachary Comeau.

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