Phone: 760-598-3227

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FDM magazine

FDM magazine (October 2002)

Providing complete logistic support and on-time jobs to clients spells success for this company.

Building store fixtures is much more than just putting together physical structures. Most jobs involve a variety of materials, complex electrical connections, and lighting that must come together precisely and at the right time to make it all work. If one element of the job is wrong, the whole effect can be lost. Bruce Moon, owner and president of Moon inc., says this 21-year-old vista, Calif., business has grown into a thriving company by taking on the nightmares nobody else wants to tackle. Using computers, CNC automation and a competent staff, Moon has built his company's reputation on providing solutions for every kind of job.

Taking on the nightmares:
Moon makes getting the job done on time the highest priority, and as a result the company has never missed delivery in time for a store's grand opening. Moon also realizes if a job isn't done right, or if any part of the mix is incorrect, the whole job can look bad. As a result Moon decided to make it his responsibility to make sure that everything that affects the company's fixtures will be followed through. This might mean making sure the outlets are set in by the electrician so that they are in exactly the right place to be unobtrusive for the fixture's electrical needs. Or it might translate to making sure the lighting is going to set the fixture and the products displayed off to best advantage. Moon promises his clients that once they sign on with Moon their worries will become his worries. "We take on the job of coordinating with all these other trades and make sure everything comes together. Our overall goal is to finish that job and make it look good," he says. More and more stores are trying to achieve a unique look, Moon says, and that not only bodes well for the industry, but especially for his company, since it does the truly one-of-a-kind jobs. "Our flagship-type projects are ones that most shops will back away from.

They're way too complicated as far as all the elements that are involved in the particular project," he says. Taking a project from that first idea to a finished job involves a number of steps. Most jobs start with some conceptual drawing of the project that has enough information for a bid. Once the bid is accepted, the real work begins with all elements of the job plotted carefully. Mister Moon explains the job to the project manager and the engineering staff; shop drawings will be created from the original drawings using AutoCAD and pattern systems. The shop drawings, color and material samples are submitted in triplicate to the architect or owner for approval. Next, engineering will break the job down into components, cutting lists, etc., with the computer providing much of the information. A bill of materials is created so orders can be placed. The drawings finally go to the foreman to set production in motion. JIT manufacturing each job is built using JIT manufacturing and Moon says that there are no hard and fast rules for the production process. The company cuts most flat panel sizes with a Holz-her ca-80 beam saw, while a Morbidelli Author 504 point-to-point machine is used for shaped parts, inlay work and any kind of line boring. Design information is converted to machine language using Cim-block and edge banding is done on the Holz- her 1410 Edgebander. If it makes more sense on a particular job to use the delta sliding table saw or the Holz-her vertical panel saw, the staff is free to choose those options. A lot of the shop staff chose the CNC machining center when given a choice. "The guys are spoiled because they love the accuracy," Moon says. "Things fit consistently." When the beam saw and the CNC machining center were purchased, the company looked primarily at the timesavings the machines offered. Throughput wasn't even considered. Throughput was enhanced with CNC equipment. Before everything would be cut at once and then move down the line. Now the work is done in batches and the production flow has improved and bottlenecks were eliminated. Moon says that it's just more efficient with everybody busy. In the past mock- ups and fixtures were prepared using jigs. Now everything is done using the CNC machining center. "It's quick. The guys are very proficient at programming it. For jig work the operator can program it from the machine," says Moon. Often the initial work is done in the office, he says, but adjustments to the mockup or parts are done directly at the machine.

When Moon looks at purchasing equipment now, he focuses on whether it will fit in with his JIT manufacturing process and if it will link with the current software. Currently, he is looking to relieve the bottleneck in finishing by enlarging his finishing area. Whenever Moon comes across another woodworking business, he says that his primary interest is always in job costing. "My biggest concern is not machines but job costing. How do you know if you're making any money? The name of the game is making money and if you don't make any money, you've got to at least know what (the job) is costing you," he says. Moon has set up a proprietary tracking system that follows a job daily, keeping close tabs on daily labor. He receives updated daily reports that allow him to see where a job is in terms of labor and materials and how close to budget it is. He calls this system his early warning detection system.

"Because we're able to capture the data for the labor early on, it gives us some opportunity to reassess what we're doing and possibly save this job or reduce the loss on this job that we're going to take," says Moon. "Without that you're looking at old data, three- to six-month financials." Moon does such a preponderance of distinct fixtures that often a mockup needs to be created. Mockups of an entire job or just one aspect of a job will often be done to work out some detail. We'll come in and miniaturize an entire storefront down to scale to make sure the mechanics of a door will work," says Moon. For Moon it comes down to making sure the product the client wants will work and will be able to be moved into its location through the door. Recently Moon took on a job that consisted of making a leather-covered storefront, something he had never done before. By making proto-type samples he guaranteed that the client was happy with the look of the samples and hence the final results. Sometimes mockups are done to expedite a job. A jewelry case, for example, might require special optically clear glass. To avoid delaying the whole process, duplicate mockups of the top of the case will be made and one given to the glass vendor and another kept in the shop. Shelves and the structure of the case can be made using the mockup for measurements at the same time that the glass is being prepared and in the end theoretically everything is sure to fit. This elaborate mahogany wine rack, below, highlights the wine collection of an Italian restaurant in southern California. The job involved coordinating a fine metal bar running across the top shelf, a granite counter and the lighting above the unit.

Bruce Moon, owner of Moon Inc., believes that one of the biggest problems the store fixture industry has to deal with is labor- finding good employees and keeping them. Moon is very proud of the employee retention rate his company has. One employee has been with the company for 18 years, almost from its inception, and another for 14 years. A number of employees are reaching their 1-year anniversary. Moon says that he gives employees a good work environment, good benefits and the opportunity to grow within the company. "We ask the guys where they want to go with this company. As opportunities arise, we give them the chance to pursue them," he says. Benefits that the company provides are health insurance, a 401-K retirement plan, paid vacation, a four day/10-hour-a-day-week with overtime for extra time worked and a profit-sharing plan. Moon has also used some innovative ways to reward attendance and safety. If employees are on time and ready to work on the bell for four weeks in a row, there's an opportunity for a bonus. If a shop goes for a period of time without an injury, workers are rewarded.

"A lot of the perks I've come up with I don't have to administer," says Moon. " I just have to finance them. All of the systems that I have in place are peer-type systems, meaning that if one person cheats, he's not cheating me, he's taking money out of everyone else's pockets."

General Info

CA Contractor License# 579266
Classification C6

D&B Number :

Contact Details

Moon Design Mfg.
971 Park Center Dr.
Vista, CA 92081-8312
Phone: 760-598-3227
Fax: 760-598-1171

Email: click here