A pioneering force in the world of custom architectural millwork and casework, Mission Bell Ltd Mfg, Inc. (Mission Bell), has a rich heritage spanning six decades. Throughout its years in business, Mission Bell has consistently delivered exceptional craftsmanship and innovative solutions to clients across various industries. The company focuses not only on creating stunning, tailor-made millwork and casework, but also prides itself on being a reliable partner throughout the entire process. From pre-construction planning and design collaboration to flawless installation and ongoing support, Mission Bell is dedicated to meeting and exceeding its customers’ expectations. Michael Christina, CEO, unveils the company’s history.
“Mission Bell is a custom architectural millwork company located in Morgan Hill, California. The company was founded by Leonard Scianna in 1959 and operated under the name Morgan Hill Millwork at the time. In 1961, the name was changed to Mission Bell Manufacturing. Our founder’s goal was simple: achieving excellence in service, quality, and on-time schedules. To this day, our mission remains the same, as we discovered that these aspects matter to our customers, and thus, matter to us. Up until the company was sold to USA Millwork in December 2019, we operated as a 49 percent Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). This was a partnership that we were excited to enter and believed would enable us to expand our brand of craftsmanship far beyond the California borders. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 shutdowns, which started in March of 2020, had a massive impact on the momentum that we had started. In April 2022, we were presented with the opportunity to regain our independence and although we were thankful for everything that we learned during our time with USA Millwork, we thought that it was best for us to move in a different direction. Thus, we became a 100-percent ESOP company, which is very exciting for our employees. Our customers are also very happy to see that Mission Bell is still here and we are still providing excellence in service, quality, and on-time schedules,” he begins.
Built on unity
Delving into Mission Bell’s current state of business, Michael emphasizes the pivotal role played by the team in delivering the company’s core services. “We provide a complete suite of services from pre-construction through to installation. Our estimators and account managers go beyond providing mere numbers to secure projects; we strive to understand the requirements of the end user. By tailoring our bids, we aim to provide the customer with the best possible chance of achieving their goals. I believe that our team is Mission Bell’s biggest asset. For instance, our outstanding team of engineers provide shop drawings that are among the finest in the industry, along with design assist capabilities. Furthermore, our project management team assumes the responsibility of not only running the project but also providing the personalized service that our customers want. Our clients want to know they can rely on us to find solutions when they encounter challenges during their projects. We are fortunate to have world-class manufacturing and installation teams. The manufacturing team produces some of the most complex and beautiful custom architectural millwork in the industry. Equally, the installation crew is made up of union carpenters who can not only install the most complicated products I have ever seen, but also navigate the ever-changing jobsites with professionalism and knowledge. I would also like to acknowledge the people behind the scenes who provide invaluable support to these teams, giving them the best chance to carry out their work,” he highlights.
These top-quality services are delivered to clients from a wide range of sectors. “The markets Mission Bell serves encompass Division 6, Division 12, and multi-family. Division 6 primarily focuses on custom architectural millwork, which is our bread and butter. Division 12 involves projects related to schools, hospitals, laboratories, and more. Lastly, multi-family covers a range of housing projects such as condominiums, apartments, senior housing, and low-income housing,” Michael elaborates.
To assist in completing projects in a timely manner, Mission Bell has incorporated technology into its operations. “Mission Bell has always been known for implementing new technologies, as our headquarters and most of our clients – who are tech giants – are in Silicon Valley. As a result, our installation team and shop floor operations have gone completely paperless, although we still use some paper in the office. In our shop, we have established computer workstations in areas dedicated to custom millwork, casework, delivery, and field operations. Each workstation is equipped with its own computer, allowing our team to access blueprints directly on the screen. Moreover, each member of the installation team is also equipped with an iPad, which conveniently displays their blueprints.
“As we are always looking for new ways to gather data to help drive our company forward, we implemented a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system a couple of months ago. This helps us identify bottlenecks and shortcomings while providing us with live data. So, if we notice any problems, we can promptly adjust and adapt to fix them. Because we are carpenters and millworkers working in an industry focused on manual labor, we often lag in gathering data. However, we have found an ERP system that was built specifically for our industry, and we anticipate it will be highly beneficial for our company. Besides that, we use 3D laser mapping systems in the field for templating. In the future, we plan to use a new product, which will help us map out entire jobsites with images captured using a GoPro. We haven’t signed up for that service yet, but we plan to do so next year. We try to leverage as much technology as possible and I truly believe that we should engage with the innovations our customers produce here, in the Silicon Valley,” Michael ends.
As Mission Bell moves forward, empowered by its dedicated staff and leveraging the latest technology, it remains focused on serving its clients’ specific needs through exceptional craftsmanship, quality, and reliable project delivery. Upholding the high standards set by its founder, the company continues its legacy as an innovator in the millwork industry.