When people visit a doctor’s, veterinarian’s or dentist’s office, school or even a gas station, there is now a chance the furniture was made in Columbia.
Cooperworks Industries, located at 200 Admiral Weinel Boulevard, creates “laminate casework that can be configured to complement a variety of spaces.”
Even though the full production manufacturing capabilities were not available until Jan. 4 due to COVID-related delays, Cooperworks has already been making products for Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis and Moto-Mart convenience stores, among other clients.
The business is a commercial direct-sell company that can produce everything from desks and cabinets to architectural laminate products.
It is also a division of MAC Medical, Inc., a Millstadt company that manufactures specialized medical equipment. In 2020, the corporate headquarters for MAC Medical moved to the Columbia facility that also houses Cooperworks’ operation.
It is the building formerly occupied by Budnick Converting next to Walgreens in Columbia.
“It just made financial sense” to combine the business offices with the new manufacturing plant, said Dennis Cooper of Millstadt, the owner of MAC Medical.
He said the decision to expand the company’s offerings was a simple matter of increasing business.
“We found that we were turning down a lot of bids that included cabinetry,” Cooper said, adding that as many as eight out of 10 jobs were rejected because they included a laminate component.
MAC Medical deals mainly in stainless steel products. To address laminate solutions, the Cooperworks division was created.
Cooper, who had previously worked in procurement and material management, began what became MAC Medical in his garage with his wife in 1998 after being involved in a couple of corporate downsizings.
As part of an agreement for staying on as one of the companies he worked for was closing, he was able to continue work with a design for warming cabinets used for hospital blankets.
The original plan was to create a set amount of the cabinets, but the project eventually became MAC Medical, named after the Coopers’ daughter, McKenzie. It is one of less than a handful of companies in the country that can produce a “full package” of stainless metal products for any aspect of a hospital, including surgery centers and operating rooms.
Cooperworks has a larger customer base than its parent company, but Cooper noted the entire industry was affected by COVID-19.
Cooper said he saw a “definite reduction in sales” despite being a company with medical clientele.
“You would think medical would be great, but unfortunately, hospitals don’t buy when there are not a lot of elective surgeries,” Cooper said.
“COVID has really played its hand,” Cooper continued, adding that Cooperworks’ full production capabilities were hampered by the pandemic.
In addition to having a delay in equipment production, there was also a three-month delay for installers, who were coming from Europe, to be able to arrive stateside to get the equipment set up.
While the setbacks were problematic, Cooper relies on “high quality with exceptional customer service” to keep the company successful, noting the model has allowed the company to thrive for “20 years without a true sales focus.”
Cooper credits Jack Matthews, who currently oversees Cooperworks operations, with doing a “phenomenal job” getting the company set up and going.
“He really deserves a lot of the credit,” Cooper said.
The Cooperworks division was able to add seven jobs to the local economy. The production plant and equipment itself is fully automated.
For more information, visit macmedical.com.