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Deburring/Finishing

Strategic gains

By Gretchen Salois

Abrasives manufacturer looks ahead to an expanded product offering and wider geographical footprint

July 2021 - When Bill Taylor founded Continental in Los Angeles in 1960, the company became a go-to abrasives manufacturer for distribution houses across the west. Years later, the company was sold and subsequently, dissolved. In 2013, Taylor’s daughter Cindy; son-in-law Gary; and his grandsons, Graydon, Gavin and Garrett, relaunched Continental Abrasives, thus reestablishing its presence on the West Coast with plans to go nationwide.

In May 2021, that intention became reality with the acquisition of The Edmar Abrasive Co. in Boomall, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1953 by Mario Mascioli, the Edmar product line ratio complemented Continental Abrasives’ abrasive offerings perfectly, and the company shares the same attention to quality and reliability for its customers.

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Continental offers wire wheels and brushes, carbide burrs, and sanding belts, among other products.

Continental Abrasives is second- and third-generation owned and has maintained customer loyalty with its comprehensive print and digital product catalog, ability to ship most products same-day, and by offering affordable private label manufacturing. “We went from a single product category to a 48-page catalog in under eight years,” says Graydon Greiwe, director of sales and marketing at Continental Abrasives. “The Continental brand was well-known years ago, but we’re noticing customers asking if this is the same brand they used back in the 1980s—there’s still a generation of fabricators that know the quality of Continental. Now, we’re offering that same quality to a new generation, and it’s starting to take hold. Other than polishing, we’re able to offer any kind of abrasive you might need.”

Prior to acquiring Edmar, Continental had a product mix of 90 percent abrasive and 10 percent diamond grinding offerings. Edmar complemented Continental with its 10 percent abrasive and 90 percent diamond mix. “[This acquisition] was a perfect fit for us,” says Greiwe. “It’s this type of investment that solidifies us as a supplier of choice instead of a fill-in option for our customers.”

The purchase expanded Continental’s reach, stretching its network of full-stocking warehouses to locations in Pennsylvania, California, Atlanta and Chicago. Four points of distribution enable customers to order both diamond and abrasive products and have it in their hands in a couple of days. “We will have two-day shipping available to 90 percent of the U.S.,” Greiwe says.

“We’re planning on adding more customers into the fold as we get our four points of distribution to full speed,” Greiwe says. “We can plan accordingly and be able to predict market needs better. Adding the just-in-time option shows customers we’re in close proximity to get them what they need fast.”

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Continental’s Pennsylvania-based facility (above) and California location (below).

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Strategic stocking

Customers typically purchase inventory as needed and don’t hold much on hand. “Some customers will order just enough to cover themselves for the month but also add weekly orders as necessary,” Greiwe says. “Each of our customers has their own way of ordering, and our goal is to be able to deliver whatever it is quickly. If they get a new customer, then we want to be able to make sure they have what they need to fulfill that demand.”

Continental maintains a steady level of inventory in its warehouses or in transit. “We either have it on our shelves or on its way to one of our facilities,” Greiwe says. “Always having supply either immediately available or en route has allowed us on multiple occasions to find success where our competitors haven’t. We can meet customer needs, and that’s helped as new customers look to us beyond a one-time option. We end up their supplier of choice.”

Continental’s catalog notes the category of a product and offers recommendations to customers based on application. “We spell out what you need to know in order to select the right abrasive,” Greiwe says. “We don’t leave anything to the imagination for the customers. It’s clearly defined.”

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Continental Abrasives partners Bill Taylor (left) and Bob Longman, pictured after moving into a larger facility in Irvine, California, during the 1980s.

Continental offers wire wheels and brushes, carbide burrs, and sanding belts, among other products. Continental also continues to offer smaller distributors a way to protect their market by offering low minimum order quantity private label (MOQ PL) on diamond products. “The main message is that we are accessible,” he says. “We ship quick, and the typical turnaround time on an order is same-day or two-day.”

Continental does not offer online ordering at this time, although customers can access the digital catalog. “We are a wholesale business and believe in using traditional distributor sales,” Greiwe says.

Through the years, the mainstay of Continental is that it continues to operate as a family-run business, one where everyone is available to answer customer questions or take orders. “We don’t hide behind receptionists and customer service representatives,” he says.

Greiwe himself is answering phones upon his arrival onsite at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time. “As owners and partners of the company, we’re here answering phone calls from customers,” he says. “We don’t rely on voicemail because we know each customer needs to feel heard and know they can rely on us, so we make ourselves available.”  FFJ

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