This fall marks our 60th year producing stamped and formed metal parts here in Bristol, Connecticut. Boy have we ever come a long way.
A Family Business Deeply Rooted in Bristol
Arthur Funk and a partner founded Fourslide Spring Products, Inc. on the 4th floor of Bristol’s historic J.H. Sessions building in 1962. Starting with a single customer and a single machine for fabricating parts, Fourslide has steadily grown into a $6 million operation employing 25 workers.
Working alongside his wife Dorothy after buying out his partner, in 1968 Funk purchased a 4100-square-foot building 2 miles down the road at 87 Cross Street to accommodate Fourslide’s growth. His daughter Judy Schmidt came aboard in 1970, and his son Arthur Funk Jr. joined the family business in 1975. He would become President in the mid ’80s. By 1980, we had doubled the square footage of our facility and pushed annual sales past $1 million.
Today, a third generation of Funks oversees daily operations as President Bryan Funk is assisted by his brother, Shipping Manager Bradley Funk. Schmidt also maintains an active role as CFO. Our facility on Cross Street has grown to more than 19,000 square feet, with a second property across the street held as a site for potential future expansion.
“Bristol has been great to us,” says Bryan Funk. “We have many excellent local vendors that we know we can rely on for outside operations.”
Continued Growth Amidst Adversity
The early 2000s brought a pair of recessions, and we were fortunate to lose just a few key employees. Sales continued to grow at an average of 4 percent annually, eventually passing the $7 million milestone in 2017.
2018 brought additional hardship when our largest customer relocated its operations out of the country, taking 30% of our revenue with it. With Bryan Funk now at the helm, there was a company-wide effort to refocus on our core business, reworking our facility for greater efficiencies and reinforcing a solid foundation that allowed it to flourish through the COVID-19 pandemic. Sales are on pace to rebound to the $6 million mark this year.
Bryan Funk credits his loyal team with the company’s success, recognizing that “we have several employees who have been here for more than 30 years, some who have worked their entire career at Fourslide. Their ongoing dedication is largely responsible for our growth.”
Looking to the Future
Though our customer base and pipeline of new work are as strong as ever, Fourslide finds itself dealing with challenges that are all-too-common for American manufacturers in 2022: material lead times, supply availability, and a lack of qualified applicants for job openings.
“With our square footage maxed out, we’re making every effort to increase efficiencies within that footprint and make Fourslide a more attractive place to work,” says Bryan Funk. “We’re investing more in new employee training than ever before because it’s difficult to find anyone with experience in this type of environment.”
We have experienced a noticeable uptick in new and returning business from customers reshoring their sourcing efforts in the wake of COVID-19. Production delays tied to overseas shutdowns, increased transportation expenses, and ballooning delivery times affect a company’s bottom line, opening the door for domestic manufacturers to win on more than part quality alone.
“We pride ourselves in the quality of our product and our ability to respond quickly to a customer’s changing needs,” Bryan Funk says. “We do have customers coming back after dealing with offshore manufacturers.”