Steves & Sons opens “smart” manufacturing plant in Henrico

Richmond, Virginia — Steves & Sons Inc. celebrated its 150th year in business with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting and grand opening of its 180,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art Richmond manufacturing plant on Wednesday, October 18. Edward Steves, Steves & Sons, dignitaries from the Texas-based company and officials from the Richmond Chamber of Commerce were present for the celebration at the plant site, 5640 Lewis Road, Sandston, Virginia.

“This is a momentous day in the 150-year history of Steves & Sons,” said Gregg Killelea, general manager of Steves & Sons Inc., Richmond. “The door-manufacturing business has changed dramatically in recent years, and our business has grown by leaps and bounds. With the opening of this new plant, we will be at the forefront of the industry technologically, enabling us to handle even greater production levels while remaining true to our high standards of quality, craftsmanship and environmental responsibility.”

Steves & Sons opened its original 62,000 square-foot Richmond manufacturing plant at 5325 Glen Alden Drive in 1983. The new plant—triple the size of the old one—opened in 2014, but is now fully functional with the addition of computerized operating systems. Personnel in Steves & Sons’ San Antonio home office designed, built and programmed most of the smart equipment, working closely with local machinery manufacturers. The new high-tech equipment includes a “smart press” used for making various types of doors and 42-inch screens used for lay-up, sizing and shipping that display images of the product being manufactured over each work station.

Killelea said the Richmond plant’s increasing business and the addition of one particularly large client had made it apparent that expansion was necessary to create opportunities for customer growth. The company doubled the amount of equipment that was in its previous local plant, adding 12 adjustable press machines that can press up to 40 doors at a time. The addition of smart technology to the plant’s systems will optimize manufacturing processes by creating more flexibility and capacity; accelerate time to market; decrease breakdowns and down time; and increase energy efficiency, helping Steves & Sons Richmond meet sustainability goals.

The increased capacity at the Richmond plant also means increased jobs. Steves & Sons hired about 50 new employees with the opening of the new plant, and as production volume goes up, they anticipate hiring 50 more.

Steves & Sons is one of the oldest door manufacturing companies in the business, established by Edward Steves and his three sons over 150 years ago with the opening of a lumber business in San Antonio, Texas. During World War I, the Steves family converted their millwork operations to manufacture propellers for the newly established Army Air Corps; during World War II, they again curtailed milling operations to make joinery for the U.S. Maritime Commission’s Liberty ships. After the war, the Steves family returned all profits to the U.S. government to help get the country restarted war and in gratitude for the safe return of the Steves sons, all of whom served with honor. After the war, the Steves family returned its attention to building quality products for homes, with an emphasis on doors.

“Steves & Sons has been part of the fabric of America for a century and a half,” said Gloria Steves Dilley, vice president of Steves & Sons. “It is both fitting and remarkable that a family of true pioneers in the door manufacturing business should be leading the industry in the 21stcentury with some of the most advanced manufacturing technologies available today, while creating jobs and supporting the economy.”

###