60 Years of Innovation
Located near Quarryville in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Stoner manufactures specialized cleaners, lubricants, and coatings for both business-to-business and consumer applications.
Founded 60 years ago by Paul Stoner (inset photo), the company has enjoyed a history of innovation and accomplishment, often against difficult odds. Paul Stoner, although orphaned as a child during the depression, persevered to earn a degree in chemistry and eventually start his own company in the 1940's.
Today, pursuing a mission to help customers "save time, increase productivity, and improve the quality of their work". Stoner formulates more than 300 solutions that are packaged in aerosol cans and larger bulk-liquid containers. For example, Stoner is the largest supplier of anti-stick release agents for the plastic molding industry.
Stoner specialty lubricants are used to manufacture military fighter jet engines, submarine components, and parts for the NASA space shuttle.
Stoner electronic cleaners help maintain telecommunications equipment, computers, office equipment, and money handling machines.
Professional auto detailers, collectors, and enthusiasts use Stoner car care products to clean, shine, and protect their favorite vehicles, from Fords to Ferraris. Several of these, including a no-streak glass cleaner called Invisible Glass, have recently gained national distribution through retail auto parts stores as well as the internet. Go to www.invisibleglass.com to learn more.
Serving more than 6,000 manufacturers, service businesses, government agencies, and universities, Stoner supplies products across the United States and internationally through distributors as well as factory-direct.
All products originate from the company's world headquarters, a single location in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania's Amish country. "Although we ship products worldwide, our goal is to be geographically invisible to our customers", says Traffic Director, Roy Peters.
Stoner's facility includes corporate offices, a research and development laboratory, manufacturing lines, warehousing, and shipping operations.
A Quest for Excellence
Stoner's commitment to business excellence began in 1992 to improve business results and establish a foundation for growth. Since then, the company has enjoyed double-digit average annual sales growth and consistent profitability.
Stoner routinely receives best-in-class customer satisfaction ratings and enjoys high morale among its employees. In 1995, Stoner was the first company to win the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award, the highest honor bestowed on businesses in the region.
In 2003 Stoner was the smallest business ever to win the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Only fourteen small businesses have won the award since its inception in 1988.
Team Based Culture
Under the visionary guidance of company President Robert Ecklin, Jr., grandson of founder Paul Stoner, daily operations at Stoner are coached by a Leadership Team. These hands-on leaders, with an average of 10 years service with the company, coach strategy development, help develop team processes, and mentor team members within their functional teams.
Strategic plans, deployed throughout the company, include vision and mission statements, goals and key performance indicators, and prioritized action items. Team members gather to communicate their plans and report progress at all-company meetings held in a refurbished 1700's stone farm house on the Stoner property.
Stoner team members are both empowered and incentivized to fulfill the needs of customers and meet performance objectives. Guidance is provided by a core set of company values: Exceed Customer Expectations, Motivated Team, Safety/Health/Environmental Responsibility, Innovation, and Continuous Improvement.
Performance-based bonus incentives, both financial and non-monetary, allow team members to share in the success of the company along with other Stoner stakeholders. "We try to hire the best, give responsibility and freedom, and share the rewards" says General Manager, Rob Marchalonis.
Exceed Customer Expectations
Stoner's strategy is to accurately target and acquire customers, and then keep them for a lifetime with world-class service. Some services that Stoner customers enjoy include: same day shipping of orders received by 5pm, FREE delivery to continental US destinations for full case shipments, a money-back guarantee, volume price discounts, low priced sample kits, and free expert advice and technical support.
Knowledgeable, factory-trained customer-care team members are empowered to immediately resolve customer concerns, without cumbersome approval or frustrating delays. As a result, Stoner enjoys strong customer loyalty with a key customer retention rate in excess of 98%.
Feedback from customers who are dissatisfied is recorded in what is known as the "Below Expectations Log." Each customer's feedback is reviewed weekly by the entire leadership team, and by functional teams where appropriate, to determine corrective actions. Less than 1.5 % of all Stoner customer transactions result in below expectations feedback. Customer satisfaction is further monitored by an independent polling firm, where Stoner has enjoyed best-in-class ratings in four of five categories.
Within their respective markets, Stoner products are easily recognized by bright, colorful packaging and memorable, trademarked brand names such as Invisible Glass glass cleaner, SpeedBead aerosol auto wax, ZeroStick mold release, GUST air duster, and Trim Shine auto protectant.
Stoner products are marketed using direct mail, catalogs, magazine advertising, and telephone or face-to-face selling. Promotional offers encourage new prospects to try Stoner products. Stoner catalogs have been recognized among the nation's best by Catalog Age judges, leaders in the direct marketing profession.
Using internet technology, Stoner has multi-tiered e-commerce web sites for key market segments as well as for individual product brands. Stoner web sites, such as MoreShine.com and CriticalCleaning.com, are supported with print media and catalog advertising campaigns.
Innovative use of technology has resulted in improved operating efficiencies and better product development. Stoner is widely recognized as a leader in aerosol technology, with more than 200 different aerosol formulations that utilize dozens of proprietary packaging innovations.
In many applications, Stoner aerosols offer improved safety characteristics without sacrificing performance. Many formulations utilize water-based technology that provides environmental and economic benefits.
As customers and requirements have increased, the company has systematically added factory automation and information technology in response. For example, Stoner recently implemented a state-of-the-art Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to link operations across all functional areas of the business from raw material ordering through production and inventory management to shipping and sales tracking.
It's rare for a company of our size to implement an Enterprise system this advanced," says IT Manager and Controller, Jon Farrell. The system went "live" on its target date, a rare feat with projects of such magnitude. One benefit Stoner's accounting team now enjoys is a paperless workflow, eliminating an "entire wall" of filing cabinets.
Lean and Flexible Manufacturing
Stoner products are produced and shipped by a lean, highly skilled team that is motivated and empowered to solve problems and improve production efficiency. Flexible manufacturing processes keep inventories low yet enable Stoner to ship orders the same day. Networked computers provide shop floor management and facilitate smooth communications.
All members of Team Stoner are trained and tested to ensure safe operating practices. Team members have benefited from more than 100,000 work hours without a lost time accident. Safety milestones are celebrated with all-team lunches and safety-related gifts.
Commitment to Community
Members of Team Stoner are active supporters of local and regional community initiatives. Most contributions and volunteer efforts are focused on programs related to youth activities, Lancaster downtown development, and the promotion of business excellence.
For example, Stoner's President, Rob Ecklin, has been instrumental in the recent purchase of the historic Rocky Spring's Carousel for relocation to downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In total, Stoner team members volunteer more than 1,000 hours to community activities annually. "Being active outside Stoner is good for both the community and our company," says Customer Service Manager, Dave Scranton.
A Legacy Continues
Extending its tradition of innovation and achievement, Stoner continues to develop and market new "solutions" to help customers in both business-to-business and consumer markets. In anticipation of continued growth over the next decade, Stoner plans to expand its facility with an addition that will include both office and warehouse space. "Leading edge technology and a continued commitment to customers will fuel our growth," says Technology Manager, Harry Zechman.