As a store manager for both Lowe's and Home Depot in the 1980s and 1990s, Mike Giaccone repeatedly faced the need to assemble dozens of cooking grills, swing sets and other sporting goods and home furnishings.
When store employees and contractors often failed to get the job done on time, Giaccone decided to start his own business to better assemble store displays. Giaccone's business, aptly and simply called Assemblers Inc., has since grown into a $35 million-a-year business employing more than 1,200 full- and part-time workers and contractors across the country.
Assemblers Inc., is now the biggest sole assembly company of its kind in the country. But the 51-year-old business owner shows no sign of slowing down his persistent double-digit growth pace in sales.
Last week, Giaccone moved Assemblers into a new and bigger headquarters in Chattanooga — the seventh move for the growing company since its start in 1998.
"I couldn't have done this without the support of all of you," Giaccone told many of the 65 employees who work in the company's new headquarters during last week's ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Giaccone bought the 46-year-old office and warehouse on Volunteer Drive from Henry Luken for $1.7 million. The 15,984-square-foot facility, which Giaccone renovated over the past seven months, nearly triples the size of his former headquarters.
Assemblers Inc. specializes in putting together the things that customers buy at major retailers like Academy Sports + Outdoors, where Assemblers is the exclusive assembly contractor for all 230 stores, and at selected Home Depot, Walmart, Kmart and Toys R Us, among others.
Assemblers Inc. technicians put together all sorts of things: bicycles, picnic tables, workout equipment, gun safes, basketball goals and even metal sheds.
Workers dispatched for the assembly tasks are trained and gain expertise as they assemble products, allowing them in most instances to put things together in a fraction of the time it takes most other workers — and without any extra parts left over when assembly is wrong.
For all his success in the business, Giaccone admitted when he and his first business partner went to assemble a cooking grill, it took them more than three hours to put it together. "Today, I can do that in less than 10 minutes," he said.
Home Depot training, partnership
From the start of Assemblers Inc., though, Giaccone has worked in partnership with store managers in jobs similar to what he used to do.
"We know what these guys want and need and we've always looked for ways to make our partners more successful," he said, noting that workers from Assemblers often walk the aisles of stores to check for merchandise out of place.
Giaccone was born in New York, raised in Miami and has managed Home Depot and Lowe's stores across the country since he joined one of the first Home Depots at the age of 19 and was managing a store only four years later. Giaccone came to Chattanooga, initially to manage the Home Depot on Highway 153 and later to run the Lowe's store on Gunbarrel Road, and is now committed to building his business here.
The company Giaccone began by supplying a local Lowe's outlet in 1998, grew to supply stores with its own employees in 35 states.
At home assembly grows
But as e-commerce grows, Assemblers is seeing much of its growth in the residential market helping users put together items shipped in boxes with the three most dreaded words for some folks: "Some assembly required."
Assemblers hires and trains workers to assemble items in 35 states and Giaccone contracts with others in the other 15.
"Hiring is definitely our biggest challenge, but we try to train and treat our employees well," Giaccone said, noting that most assemblers are paid from $16 to $21 an hour, depending upon how productive they are.
In Chattanooga, Assemblers Inc. operates a call center, handles the employee payroll and coordinates operations under Giaccone's leadership. The company CEO says he still reviews customer feedback and complaints and works to address any customer concern and service the assembly work that it does.
"Don't ever argue with the customer," Giaccone tells his managers. "My motto is "your right, I'm wrong and I'll fix it."
Contact Dave Flessner at email@example.com or at 423-757-6340.