Sherrill Manufacturing (SMI) is the last remaining flatware manufacturer in the United States. The company was founded in 2005, when it acquired substantially all of the flatware manufacturing assets from Oneida Limited®, which was the largest flatware manufacturer in the U.S. market.
Sherrill Manufacturing started out as an exclusive contract manufacturer of certain high-end patterns for a Oneida Limited®, also providing plating, packaging and warehousing services. Several years into the relationship, when Oneida Limited® became financially stressed and shifted production overseas to reduce costs, Sherrill Manufacturing experienced a decrease in revenue and was forced to reevaluate the path forward. Now recognizing the future could no longer be exclusively tied to Oneida Limited®, Sherrill Manufacturing embarked on a process of diversifying the customer base with the longer-term focus of having our own flatware patterns and brand.
Additional capital was needed to produce tooling, revamp equipment and provide working capital for inventory and increased receivables. Several loans, as well as a grant, were obtained and in 2008 Sherrill Manufacturing shifted from the one-customer OEM model to a multiple customer OEM model. Unfortunately, almost immediately after the funding was in place and the customer base secured, the bottom fell out of the U.S. economy.
Faced with such a bleak scenario in the middle of the country’s worst economic climate in decades, management could have simply given up. Instead, the owners formulated a revised business strategy. This new strategy involved an immediate but temporary downsizing of the employee base. The idea was to survive while the company paid off or restructured existing liabilities, allowing Sherrill Manufacturing to emerge as the country’s only domestic flatware manufacturer.
In order to accomplish this, the company filed for protection under Chapter 11 bankruptcy code in 2010. A plan for reorganization was presented to and accepted by creditors. After several years of hard work and the sale of non-essential assets, the company successfully repaid the majority of the outstanding liabilities and was able to emerge from Chapter 11 in late 2013.
Sherrill Manufacturing is now a completely restructured company with a new vision and rejuvenated business plan. The company maintained several key customers during the transition and has successfully launched its own brand, Liberty Tabletop. Fresh working capital has been added to allow Sherrill Manufacturing to double the Liberty Tabletop product offering, expand production capacity and provide for the working capital necessary to expand.
Sherrill Manufacturing has not only survived but has now positioned itself as America’s flatware company, the only remaining manufacturer of flatware in the United States. Future plans include the introduction of more flatware patterns as well as the launch of several new non-flatware products aimed to satisfy increased public demand for quality, American-made goods.