The Homer Laughlin China Company (HLC) of Newell, West Virginia, navigates a tough business environment to maintain its iconic Fiesta brand as the last large commercial pottery maker in the U.S..
Despite strong competition from China, Mexico, and India, affordable pricing, and a heavily manual manufacturing process, HLC has diversified its business into 60% consumer market and 40% food service industry.
The company also started its own online sales 10 years ago.
As a result, HLC is able to remain competitive with its top quality Fiesta China carrying the made-in-America credentials since 1871.
Video Spotlight: How Fiesta Dinnerware Is Made
This post is based on the Forbes article, The Family-Owned Company That Makes FiestaWare Counts On Diversification And Online Sales For Growth, by Jim Vinoski, October 24, 2019, and the YouTube video, How Fiesta Dinnerware Is Made, by Insider, September 9, 2018. Image source: Africa Studio/Shutterstock
1. What are the challenges of the commercial pottery industry in the U.S.?
Guidance: The challenges include strong foreign competitors from China, Mexico, and India on labor costs, strong local competitions with 30+ pottery makers, price competition, and a heavily manual manufacturing process.
2. How did Homer Laughlin China (HLC) meet the challenges in the commercial pottery industry?
Guidance: HLC diversified its business into consumer and food service industry markets, started its own online sales, invested in robotics in automating some repetitive manufacturing tasks such as forming and kilns, kept quality as its competitive advantage, and stayed on top of customer trends.