To the surprise of many individuals not involved in this industry, brushes can be found everywhere — and in every shape and size imaginable. Cheney enjoys sharing this fact to people who are not directly involved with brushes.
“It amazes a lot of people when I tell them all of the types of products that require brushes — either when producing that product or in the actual item itself,” Cheney said.
The continual need for brushes has helped not only the industry prosper itself, but Braun Brush as well.
“Business has been great. We had a record year in 2015, and 2016 is starting with a lot of work on the books. I anticipate another record year,” he said. “A major reason for this success is that we, as a company, have hit our stride in all three of our major focus areas. This has allowed us to take in work that best fits our company profile. It’s kept us busy.”
He also credits members of the company’s loyal and talented workforce who are very good at solving challenging problems for customers.
“Our people continue to show great commitment to their work. They help Braun Brush provide quality products and service. These people constantly amaze me with the ways they solve problems,” Cheney said.
Lance Cheney front center and his staff, starting in the Back from left to right: Will M, Jerilyn Leis, Leo P, Peter Lassen, Debra Q, Melanie Feltman, Matt L. And the Front: Dora H, Aldo P, Lorna T., Danielle L, Rosa H.
Missing: Adam Czerniawski, Susan Cheney, John F, Nelson P, Moises P.
As 2015 has given way to 2016, Cheney also discussed continued trends he is noticing in the brush marketplace. This includes more customers seeking quality products over low-price items.
“I see a general return to quality in the marketplace. Many people have seen the commoditization of brushes take place over the years, driving prices down, but at the expense of quality. They have had enough,” Cheney said. “There are customers in the market segment today who want higher quality items. This has benefited Braun Brush as our company never left the philosophy that quality is critical.”
As the customer base for Braun Brush continues to be broad, company officials work with distributors whenever possible.
“Our goal is also to always find and work with the right people at each company — all in an effort to solve specific problems at hand,” Cheney said.
He added that the overall pace of business continues to speed up due to the influence of the electronic age. Therefore, the need to respond to customer demands as quickly as possible grows.
“In today’s business climate, if you don’t respond to a customer’s needs immediately, then you may lose out. That customer will likely not wait around very long. There are just too many other opportunities and avenues available right now,” he said. “The pace of business has quickened, and companies really need to stay on top of this faster way of life.
“It’s also interesting to see how much a factor today’s global economy is in everybody’s business. For example, the price of the euro can influence our company in either a positive or negative way.”
This can include the price and availability of certain raw materials that are critical to brush manufacturing. Cheney said Braun Brush uses just about very type of brush making material available in the marketplace. This can present the company with both great opportunities and many challenges.
Among Braun Brush employees working at the company's Brentwood, CA, facility are, left to right, Randy Peña, Cody Martinez, Devina Blanco, Dre Green and Jackie Zumwalt.
“Our challenges with raw materials are the same as many other brush makers. There are shortages and price matters to watch. For example, tampico fiber was in short supply for awhile, now that issue seems to have straightened out,” Cheney said. “We also use a lot of boar and horse hair when making certain brushes. Getting natural hair from China and South America can be challenging, especially finding the longer-length hair. However, when it comes to today’s synthetic fiber, this market seems to have stabilized due to the lower price of today’s oil.”
He explained that it often takes a perfect type of raw material to make a perfect type of brush. Therefore, raw material quality is vital.
Looking toward the rest of 2016 and beyond, Cheney sees the need for continued innovation. This involves using the company’s existing equipment in new ways, finding different methods to making brushes, utilizing advanced technology, seeking improved raw materials and always looking for better brush applications.
“There is also a need to foster stronger relationships with customers, vendors, employees and fellow brush makers,” he said. “It’s important to not only be a mentor, but to find a mentor as well.
“When it comes to the brush business, I have seen industries that were once great moneymakers fade away, while other industries that had never been on our radar before suddenly appear and fill the void. Throughout it all has been a continued desire for brushes. Industries and needs will change — the key is to be flexible and to always look over the horizon for new opportunities. A company gets into trouble when it becomes complacent.”
One thing that does not change, however, is Cheney’s love for the global brush industry.
“We are involved in a very unique industry. There is a wonderful camaraderie in place among different brush makers and suppliers,” Cheney said. “It’s full of strong and long standing friendships that I don’t think you see in many other industries.”