Flex Trim is ready to ‘bend over backwards’ to meet clients’ needs.
By Alan Dorich
For more than 20 years, Flex Trim has set itself apart with service, co-owner and President Greg Carter says. When he joined the company in 2006, “We were probably the smallest of the four major flexible molding companies [in the market],” he recalls.
When the Great Recession hit in 2007, some of Flex Trim’s competitors closed their doors. But the company continued to thrive, thanks to its strong service. “We were able to grow 50 percent and have no layoffs,” Carter says. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard [customers say], ’You’re my best supplier.’”
Headquartered in Lexington, N.C., Flex Trim manufactures polyurethane flexible molding for windows, doors, baseboards, rails, trim and other applications. Carter’s parents started the business as Carter Millwork in 1995. Carter and his brother Alan later purchased the company in 2007.
In 2008, the company acquired Flex Trim, a competitor that had similar operations. Since then, “Flex Trim has become the name of the product,” he says, claiming its name has become as associated with the product as Kleenex is to tissues.
Flex Trim also acquired other competitors in the industry, including Flexible Moulding International, Zago Flexible Moulding and Ultra-Flex Moulding. Today, “We’re a conglomeration of a lot of companies,” Carter says. “It allows us to offer different solutions that other people can’t offer.”
The company’s acquisitions have allowed it to grow its number of molding profiles to 50,000 between its facilities in North Carolina and Utah. “There’s nobody close to that,” he says.
Stretching the Limits
Flex Trim sells its products to building supply/millwork wholesalers and retailers, such as Home Depot and 84 Lumber, as well as mom-and-pop lumber yards. “We have thousands of customers across the country,” says Lisa Carter, Greg Carter’s wife and the company’s CFO.
Carter Millwork’s acquisition of Flex Trim, she notes, allowed it to add an extra layer of clients to keep it afloat during the recession. “We were able to avoid the decline that others in the building industry had,” she recalls.
Although Flex Trim’s products are primarily used in residential applications, the company also has seen them used in projects for Augusta National Golf Club, Disney, multiple universities and many other large commercial jobs. “Once you learn about the product and what it can do, more and more applications come up,” she says.
Greg Carter agrees. “The big thing about what we do is that your imagination is the limit,” he says, noting that it offers more options than wood molding. “With our product, you can make curves and you can make decorative elements at up to 70 percent less expensive than comparable radius wood molding.”
Pushing the Boundaries
Flex Trim offers four different formulations of polyurethane material to its clients. “One of them is what we call our standard Flex Trim material,” Greg Carter says, noting that this is used for the majority of the “normal” applications.
But if a client has an especially difficult application, its ZZZ-Flex product is a good fit. “It allows you to push the boundaries,” he says. “If it’s a really tight radius application, we would use that product.”
Its Ultra Flex product also is different from any other offered in the industry, Carter says. Unlike some products, it is around 40 to 50 percent lighter in weight and pre-primed, which saves time for the client. “This gives us another option in being able to offer the customers something they can’t get somewhere else,” he says.
The company also offers its Machineable S4S product that customers can use for smaller runs. “If someone wanted a single eight-foot piece and they were able to run through their own molder, we can just send them the blank and they can run it themselves,” he explains.
Flex Trim offers many advantages to clients through its service, including fast turnarounds. “Flexible molding is typically one of the last things that goes into a house,” Greg Carter says.
“Typically, it takes six months to a year to build a house, but it’s amazing how many emergency orders we get,” he admits. “We bend over backwards to get people material when they need it.”
The company also has the ability to recreate molding shapes for its customers. “We’re in the copying business,” Carter says, explaining that customers can send Flex Trim pieces of wood to take molds from, no matter how simple or complicated they are, and its molds will replicate the original piece exactly!
Once the company has the mold, it becomes part of the company’s inventory and is available to any client. “If we don’t have the molding profile you’re looking for, you can send us a piece of wood and we’ll match it,” Lisa Carter says.
Flex Trim also can make its molds look like wood. “If the wood has knots in it, our piece will replicate it exactly,” Greg Carter says. “The mold also will pick up the grain of the wood.”
Greg Carter is proud of how Flex Trim has grown over the years while maintaining its culture. “We are a family business,” he says, noting that he still shares ownership with his brother.
His wife Lisa “came from a Fortune 500 background,” Carter says, adding that she previously served as the controller for Oakwood Homes.
But despite its success, Flex Trim has not lost touch with its roots. “We’ve more than tripled the size of the business during the worst recession in 60 years, but we’ve still maintained all the different aspects we had when we were smaller,” he asserts.
“Some companies grow to the point where everybody’s kind of a number,” he continues, adding that Flex Trim stays closer to its employees. “I can’t tell you how many times a day employees come into my office to ask a question.”
The “lifeblood” of Flex Trim, he adds, is its staff of inside salespeople who walk the customers through the process. “[They’re] making the customer feel like they’re dealing with their own family,” Carter says.
Carter sees continued success for Flex Trim. “We pretty much acquired about everybody there is to acquire in our industry,” he says, adding that the company has looked into adding new products.
“But for now, we want to focus on what we’re good at,” he says. “The main thing we’ll be focusing on in the not-too-distant future is just improving how we do what we do and not trying to become all things to all people.”