By Ben Wiese | Feb 22, 2023
Long Beach, California
Headquartered in Long Beach, California, the company was initially conceived as a hinge product supplier for doors and enclosures. As the company expanded, so did its focus. Sierra Pacific introduced new components to its catalog -- such as door latches, locks, and handles -- and eventually became an all-encompassing supplier of industrial hardware -- both stock and custom -- for OEMs around the globe.
By the start of 2006, the company was 100 percent employee-owned and proudly remains so to this day.
"As we've become a more mature ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) over the years, people are really starting to see the benefits of it," says the company's President, Barry Stein. "People that have been here a long time and have helped build this company into what it is today are starting to near retirement. It's exciting."
The highest volume of Sierra Pacific's business has remained with OEMs in a variety of industries including industrial, HVAC, vehicular, marine, and more. Customers range from single-person operations to Fortune 100 organizations. In addition to custom orders from clients, the ISO 9001-certified manufacturer also designs and distributes its own line of products for the industrial hardware market.
"We'll do any level of variants in customizing to brand-new concept developments," says Engineering and Quality Manager Bret Jorgensen. "And if we're directly involved in designing, we'll typically try to work on patenting those unique products."
Inside its headquarters, Sierra Pacific has an R&D space designated for rapid prototyping through stereolithography modeling and fused deposition modeling. With such capabilities, the company's team can work out the kinks of a particular hardware or model with precision and gusto. The results: increased efficiency and the ability to problem solve on a physical product within hours.
"If we're doing development on a project, whether they're custom machined or rapid prototyping, we can put that together for design and proof of concept in-house," says Jorgensen.
Sierra Pacific's manufacturing is both national and international -- with a factory in Jiaxing, China, as well as other factories and distribution warehouses throughout the United States.
"We have manufacturing in different areas of the world -- North America, and throughout different areas of Asia, including owning a factory in China," says Stein. "We've been operating this way for a long time, over 30 years."
With door and enclosure hardware being universal necessities, Sierra Pacific has struggled to cleanly break down if a product is exclusive to one industry -- a testimony to product malleability and continued business potential.
"There are a lot of blurred lines; there are a lot of products that can be used across multiple industries," says Stein. "It's always been a challenge to categorize an item we sell by industry. Often, a piece of hardware will have multiple applications across multiple industries."
By the same token, the company is uniquely suited to maintain course amidst adversity -- including the pandemic.
"If we're seeing a lull in one segment of the economy, another segment might pick up," says Stein. "Transportation was booming during COVID. That segment is now cooling off, but we're seeing other segments pick back up. Our supply wasn't interrupted tremendously during the pandemic because we have our own manufacturing. Logistics was a challenge, but we have very good partnerships -- some of which go back 30 years -- all over the world, and we've been able to leverage those. Typically, we also keep a lot of extra stock and product, so we were well-positioned to get through the pandemic."
Challenges: Despite the company's ability to maintain, the company isn't immune to the difficulties of the unknown.
"Right now, our biggest challenge is uncertainty," says Stein. "With the current economic environment for manufacturing, there's a lot of uncertainty. Part of our job is to always have product for our customers when they need it. It's tough; we're all really struggling with forecasting for the upcoming year -- how much product we're going to need and when we're going to need it. As a result, right now we're working with our customers and our trade partners to develop forecasts for the year to try to best meet those needs."
Opportunities: Product certainty as doors and enclosures don't appear to be going out of style anytime soon!
"It's a new product just about every day," says Jorgensen. "You'd think it'd be the same -- and some of it is, it’s well-established, but there's a door on anything we need to get in or out of. That market always changes; as designs and structures evolve, so do the products. As long as there are doors, we look forward to continued growth and success."
Needs: Keeping pace with America's technology journey and embracing the melding of mechanical and electrical to remain at the top of its industry.
"Our industry is following the trend of smart homes and vehicles with key fobs," says Jorgensen. "In what has historically been a mechanical actuated handle is transitioning more to electronic actuated. I think for us, finding that transition to electronic access and keyless access is where we’ll need to continue to grow and develop as we move forward."