SHERRILL — U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer is helping Sherrill Manufacturing fight its latest business hurdle by confronting companies that are infringing on the Sherrill-based company’s biggest selling point.
Schumer is urging the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) to review all product claims of “Made In America” being put forth on its website.
“Incorrectly labeling products as ‘Made In America’ is not only misleading to customers wishing to buy American, but doing so also hurts those businesses, like Sherrill Manufacturing,” Schumer said.
The senator has written a letter asking for help in protecting the company that is, according to Schumer, the country’s only remaining flatware producer.
“I urge you to examine the flatware that is listed as ‘Made In America’ on the GSA Advantage Website, and remove the products that do not belong on that list,” Schumer wrote to website officials.
The name itself, Liberty Tabletop (www.libertytabletop.com), is meant to imply the pride and emphasis on local employment and networking found in the Sherrill area.
Sherrill Manufacturing is the offshoot of Oneida Limited, a company that had been founded in 1888 and which had closed in 2014.
Sherrill Manufacturing has rebounded from bankruptcy in 2008 to continue producing high-end dinnerware, or flatware, and selling it around the country.
“In 2008 we had the financial crisis and the housing market crash. Many people saw us as a high-end product they did not need or could not afford,” Sherrill Manufacturing CEO Gregory Owens said, adding that astute planning and the partnership between Owens and company president Matthew A. Roberts has led the company back to the point where the company saw a 50 percent increase in sales from 2014 to 2015.
The company projects another 50 percent increase in sales in 2016. This can be attributed to its business model, and its contributions to the local economy.
“The ‘Made In America’ claim is how we attract our customers,” Roberts said. “We have a fairly simple way of letting our customers order online.”
It is a business model that works because of its emphasis on home-grown craftsmanship.
“Letting people know we are American made helps us attract business, and if we can separate ourselves, with the help of GSA, from those who manufacture outside the country then we will have a clear advantage,” Roberts said.
The company employs 35 people in a factory complex that was, Roberts said, in use when Abraham Lincoln was president.
It helps the local economy: according to Owens, 90 percent of its customers are outside of New York and 99 percent of its customers are outside of Oneida County. And, Owens said the company also partners with other local businesses.
“We have our buffing done in Earlviile and our steel is melted in Utica,” Owens said.
Along with the business aspect there are the safety guarantees that come along with local manufacturing.
“This is especially true in flatware,” Roberts said. “I mean, this is something you put in your mouth.”
Safe flatware manufacturing begins with the raw materials themselves.
“The question is, ‘Where does this metal come from?’” Roberts asked. “Is it from a landfill where there’s been a radioactive dentist chair next to it?”
And production methods are not strictly enforced overseas. Roberts noted Sherrill Manufacturing does not use trichloroethylene (TCE), a chemical frequently used to clean flatware, in its production.
“We take care to make sure there is no lead, mercury, radiation in our products,” Roberts said.
The future of Sherrill Manufacturing continues to brighten.
“We’re bringing quality back to the marketplace, we’re creating jobs, and we’re using safe methods of manufacturing our product,” Roberts said. “We’re looking forward to good things happening.”