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Village Wrought Iron: A Touch of Tradition

Nov 1, 2008
by Judi Perkins

In a high-tech world where manufacturing mass quantities has become the cost-effective norm, it is refreshing to find a company that retains traditional values of domestic labor and hand-crafting. Village Wrought Iron, Inc. began in 1974 when the owner was crafting wrought iron reproductions for craft shows. Thirty-four years later, the company supplies its products to brick-and-mortar stores, dropshippers and many well-known mail order catalogues, while remaining faithful to the essence of their craft.

"There is a piece of tradition in everything we do," said Nena Harrington, General Manager. "We strive to keep that look in our products. Our internal systems are automated, but not the manufacturing." Harrington emphasizes that production will always include manual crafting. "That's the nature of a wrought iron piece," she said. "We still weld and hand-bend many of the pieces. We still have people taking rough spots from the weld and die graining them down. All of those processes remain."

Similar to old world artisans, Village Wrought Iron is known for the quality of their pieces. "We are a family-owned business and we intend to remain as such for the long term. In fact, one of the owner's sons is now a vice president and also does a great deal of the design work," said Harrington.

Additionally, the company strives to cater to their customers, which includes stores, mail order catalogs and dropshippers, "We want to give the stores and the ecommerce sites all the tools they need in order to foster long-term relationships." This is evident in that they do not require a minimum order. Village Wrought Iron also wants to make it easy for retailers to take care of their customers.

They also print their catalog prices in code. "We want the stores to put the catalog out and utilize it to sell. They may not be able to accommodate everything we have, but we do not want to stifle their ability to sell."

Dropshippers are immediately given access to a spreadsheet with all the products, as well as links to photos of the products. "I was awed when our dropshipper customers told me that other companies do not provide this utility. These businesses need every tool they can have as quickly as they can have it," said Harrington. "We are thrilled to provide them with what they need."

They also promote their retailers' websites on villagewroughtiron.com. Since Village Wrought Iron only sells wholesale, thay try to provide their retail customers with a list of where their products are available. The site features an A to Z list of companies with browsing options.

Products can be seen only by wholesale buyers, so a buyer must first create an account. Dropshippers have their own application process through a separate button. "We have offered dropshipping with mail order catalog companies for almost 16 years. However, about five years ago we saw a huge shift to the internet," said Harrington. "Internet dropshippers have strictly an internet presence. They are not stores, they don't have mail order catalogs and they do not want to handle merchandise. They just want to market it. It was a whole new arena for us."

Harrington stressed the importance dropship orders are accorded. Although dropshippers make up the smallest percentage of their customers, they easily account for the highest volume of shipped packages. "They represent us as the inventory sitting on their shelves. By 8 a.m., all orders from the previous day are downloaded into our system to be shipped out." There is a dropship fee of $5.50 is per shipment, rather than per item, because so many of their dropshippers sell product groupings. "Some companies say they do not have a dropship fee, but it is incorporated into the cost of their product," said Harrington. If a customer wants several different products, those charges add up substantially. When we ship six items in one dropshipment to a customer, there is only one charge."

Their website, villagewroughtiron.com is free of the clutter and confusion that hinder many sites. Aside from product viewing, the purpose of the site is primarily informational, with buttons for the corporate office, order/shipping, show rooms, dropshipping and the shopping cart and account information.

The site offers an interactive e-catalog, which allows the user to maneuver through it using the eleven category buttons at the top of the screen. Selecting a button displays the corresponding page with that category's products. At the bottom of the screen is the ability to enlarge the page, and view the previous or the next page, as well as the home page.

The traditional method of using buttons on the left of the homepage is also available. This is the best option to view prices, since the catalog prices are coded. Recommended mark up is 100 percent. While there are over 1,200 products on the site, thousands more never make it online, because of the custom design and production work they do for many mail order companies.

As Harrington sees it, "We are out there to promote the stores, the dropship customers, our mail order customers and everyone else who buys from us. Our company will always use only domestic metal crafting to provide American-made wrought iron products. We are totally committed to being a place where the traditional craft of ironworking can still be found. That was the premise to begin with, and it remains so today."

There is no minimum order.

For more information:

Village Wrought Iron, Inc.
7756 Main St.
Fabius, NY 13063
Toll Free: 800-683-5598
Toll Free Fax: 866-683-7756
Website: www.villagewroughtiron.com

Topic: Company Profiles

Related Articles: wrought iron 

Article ID: 820

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