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2021 FAB 40: Metal fabricators keeping pace during a booming recovery

The metal manufacturing industry could be on the cusp of new levels of growth in 2021


By Tim Heston
June 7, 2021

If you’ve worked in metal fabrication for a while, you’d likely be hard pressed to recall a busier time. You also would be hard pressed to find a time when leaders of some of the country’s largest custom and contract metal fabricators have been so positive. Still, it’s been quite a ride.

Consider Cupples J&J Co.’s experience. The Jackson, Tenn.-based fabricator, known for being on the bleeding edge of laser cutting, began 2020 in growth mode. Then came the pandemic. Cupples’ plants didn’t shut down, but its customers’ plants did. Still, Cupples didn’t just hunker down to ride out the storm. The fabricator took action.

Jeff Cupples, vice president of engineering and estimating, recalled the story: “We took some gambles and bought extra equipment, including a 15-kW laser, a 20-kW laser, and two 12-kW lasers. We did all that over a four-month period starting in June.”

Once the fabricator received its first 20-kW laser, James Cupples, owner, saw what it could do and ordered another 20-kW system. In total, the company now has 23 lasers, and nine of them are greater than 10 kW. And since revenue bottomed last May, the company has hired 90 people, bringing the total head count to about 355.

Cupples’ story has unique qualities—considering the company’s raw laser cutting power—but it has one element that many FAB 40 companies share: The fabricator took action when times were tough and is now reaping the benefits.

The picture isn’t all rosy. Everyone is feeling the pinch of high material prices, and some are experiencing outright shortages. In fact, many fabricators are saying that they could actually sell more if they could find more people and material.

The material supply and price roller coaster might be around for a while—many are predicting demand pressures to continue supporting high prices until later this year or perhaps into early next year—though eventually the ride will end. But what about the people shortages? Alas, that ride isn’t likely to end anytime soon.

Sure, automation reduces the need for some kinds of direct labor, but it doesn’t apply everywhere. The most advanced cutting and bending system can automate dozens of manual manufacturing steps. But unlike a cross-trained employee, an automated machine can’t drop what it’s doing and help free a constraint elsewhere in the plant. Automation has helped metal fabricators achieve truly eye-opening throughput, but they still need good people to manage it all.

Regardless, the industry has so many opportunities to offer the right person, as the stories that follow show. Metal fabrication may well be at an inflection point. Customer demand is pushing capex to new levels, as many are making extraordinarily large investments—not just a single machine here or there but entire factories full of new equipment. Vintage lasers and decades-old press brakes are starting to become a rare find at industry-leading operations.

Some of the industry’s largest contract fabricators might be on the cusp of truly scaling up. Although many consider material prices to be a bubble destined to pop, they don’t see customer demand in the same way. Sure, some spending might be temporary, but such bubbles aren’t pervasive. Many feel the industry might be about to experience a new era of customer demand. If that’s so, the revenue numbers reported in the 2021 FAB 40 could look extraordinarily different within just a few years.

 

Anchor Fabrication

 

Greg Frye has worked in manufacturing operations his entire career, and he embraces automation fully. As COO of Southlake, Texas-based Anchor Partners and CEO of the Anchor Fabrication division, he oversees a company with numerous welding robots, automated panel benders, and more.

“We automate where we can automate,” Frye said. “But there’s a misconception that if you just get automation right, then everything you do can be automated. That really isn’t the case.”

Frye emphasized the importance of what he called the “continuity of supply” and the importance of redundant capability and capacity. Should a panel bender not be available, are press brake operators available to form a product and send it downstream? “You need a backup,” he said.

Continuity of supply has certainly been a major goal, and often a challenge, for fabricators across the industry during the rebound. And as Frye explained, Anchor Fabrication, No. 3 on this year’s FAB 40, has its entire business organized to provide it.

Like many larger fabricators, Anchor has grown significantly through acquisition. Between 2015 and 2019 the organization acquired Louisiana-based BOH Environmental, which provides field pack-up systems used in logistics in the military and other sectors; Abby Manufacturing, a Memphis-area (Walnut, Miss.) company that focuses on medium- to small-scale fabrication; and Quality Industries, a large contract fabricator outside Nashville with a heavy focus on commercial transportation. The BOH acquisition—with the division’s focus on defense work—helped carry Anchor through 2020 without a drop in revenue.

In recent years the company went to market under previous company names: Anchor Fabrication was known for its large weldments and subassembly expertise, Abby was known for medium-gauge work for construction and ground support, and Quality Industries was known for its thin-gauge fabrication and transportation products (think sleeper cabs in commercial trucking).

“Of course, when we talked to our customer base,” Frye said, “almost unanimously they told us, ‘We don’t have time to figure that out; you decide where it fits best.’”

This year the organization is undergoing a rebranding. As of May 2021 the company will go to market with two distinct divisions under the Anchor Partners name. BOH will go to market as a division of Anchor, while the three fabrication locations in Texas, Mississippi, and Nashville will all be branded under the Anchor Fabrication Division as Anchor Fab FW, Anchor Fab MS, and Anchor Fab TN.

Each division will have its own sales team and P&L, though the sales organization companywide operates under the 80/20 rule: About 80% of its job remains maintaining and growing the order book for the local plant, while the remaining 20% involves working as a companywide sales and marketing team that coordinates with the vice president of business development. The goal is to uncover opportunities that could tap into Anchor’s entire process portfolio.

The idea is that individual parts of the organization have different yet complementary areas of expertise, but everything follows the same processes and best practices. All of Anchor’s metal fabrication locations have similar automation and other equipment, as well as complementary levels of expertise. If one area or plant lacks capacity or, especially in 2021, the availability of certain material, work can be shifted elsewhere.

And as Frye described, Anchor builds redundancy at the machine level too. If a process is automated, Anchor works to have the workforce available to perform the job manually if needed, should something happen to that automated machine.

Frye said he hopes the rebranding, the expanded sales strategy, and the company’s focus on the continuity of supply will carry Anchor through a busy 2021. “We’re seeing a strong return in demand across all of our customers,” he said. “Class 8 trucking returned strong. Rail is back. Material handling equipment is back, and construction is back. Defense, meanwhile, is a little down, but everything else is up. Our diversification has put us in a very good place.”

 

Momentum Manufacturing Group

 

The product mix at Georgetown, Mass.-based Momentum Manufacturing Group, one of the largest metal manufacturers in the Northeast—and No. 8 on this year’s FAB 40—exemplifies why metal fabrication overall fared relatively well over a tumultuous two years.

Sure, the fabricator’s plants in Vermont and New Hampshire, which have heavy concentrations in restaurant and exercise equipment, saw significant declines in March and April 2020. Lines devoted to stainless steel restaurant equipment were hit particularly hard.

“Meanwhile, our facilities in southern New England remained strong [in 2020] and had month after month of record sales,” said Steven Gore, COO.

Why? It again comes down to product mix. Momentum’s southern New England facilities did see some volume declines in fabricated components for airport security products, but other core lines—including components for medical equipment and warehouse automation—kept going strong. Throughout the pandemic, robotic warehouse systems kept products flowing to consumers, and metal components for such automation came from companies like Momentum Manufacturing.

“For us, everything started coming back strong in September,” Gore said, “and by the end of the fourth quarter, it turned out that revenue-wise, 2020 turned out to be a decent year.”

Leading Momentum’s growth in 2021 are again those robotic warehouse systems, along with fitness equipment. Such demand has spurred capex too. Besides sheet metal fabrication, Momentum offers extrusion, and capital expenditures have focused on both. A new, multimillion-dollar extrusion press will be installed this year, as will an automated tube laser.

Momentum is facing similar material pricing and supply chain challenges as everyone else, of course, and the labor shortage continues unabated. That said, 2020 did give Momentum a breather of sorts, especially in its Vermont and New Hampshire plants, which gave the fabricator the opportunity to re-examine part flow. “We’ve aligned the whole work flow and updated our workcells,” Gore said. “Now, we’re getting about 30% more done with fewer people.”

 

IMS Companies LLC

 

Des Plaines, Ill.-based IMS Companies’ diverse customer base prevented its revenue from sinking too deeply in 2020. While automotive took a dive thanks to plant shutdowns, IMS gained in businesses like semiconductor, medical, and aerospace. And like nearly every other fabricator, IMS’s business in 2021 is on a tear, on track to match if not surpass 2019 revenue. No. 5 on this year’s FAB 40, the company also will spend more money on capex in a single year than it ever has before. This includes big investments in robotic welding, as well as spending on automated punching and panel bending.

Like other large fabricators, IMS is looking to grow organically and through acquisition, considering opportunities with complementary product lines (such as server racking and enclosures) as well as companies that play in spaces complementary to its sheet metal fabrication, stamping, and gear-making capabilities.

That said, when asked about the skilled labor shortage, Steve Tokarz, president of IMS Companies, got right to the heart of the matter. “I hate to say it, but we’re all stealing from each other.”

Like nearly every fabricator in the FAB 40, IMS is searching constantly for talent, even as overall unemployment remains high. “You can have old equipment and great people and make great products,” Tokarz said. “And you can have new equipment and bad people, and not be able to make your orders. With the market so hot right now, and most in our industry not able to find people, we all need to work to keep the people we have. We do this by, one, paying a competitive wage and, two, having the right environment.”

To that end, the company continues its push toward cross-training. “If, say, someone is a star player in assembly and they want to grow, we can help,” Tokarz said. “We have a dedicated safety and training coordinator who finds people who can move up to different opportunities. When they feel like they’re a part of something, their job becomes meaningful. That can mean the world to them.”

 

Major Tool & Machine

 

Any metal manufacturing manager would have looked at Major Tool & Machine’s customer mix in 2020 with at least a hint of envy. About half of the Indianapolis-based metal fabricating and machining operation’s revenue comes from defense; 15% comes from the semiconductor business; 10% from aerospace; 10% from power generation; 10% from the nuclear industry, including the national labs; and 5% from oil and gas. Considering this, it’s no surprise that 2020, despite all its challenges, was for Major Tool a record year.

“Our market mix continues to evolve,” said David Weyreter, vice president of sales and marketing. “We saw an uptick in defense-related spending, and a lot of our customers received contracts that allowed them to place new orders in 2020.”

Likewise, the work continues to ramp up in 2021. Recent new work includes fabrications for the Navy’s new Columbia-class submarine and precision machining of rocket engine nozzles associated with NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to return U.S. astronauts to the moon and Mars. Major Tool’s shop load is a combination of custom manufacturing and repeat production. The production work has allowed the company to invest extensively in machine and welding automation technology. However, the company’s primary business is in custom manufacturing; employees often work with large, complex fabrications and assemblies. That environment, Weyreter explained, requires talented and experienced people who understand metal fabrication techniques, including code-level welding. Major Tool employs more than 50 welders, most of whom are certified to perform code-level work.

Without such talent, Major Tool wouldn’t be the company it is today, sitting at No. 7 on this year’s FAB 40. It’s why for nearly 20 years it has developed its own machinist and welder training programs. The programs, conducted on the company’s Indianapolis campus, use dedicated training labs, classrooms, and shop floor shadowing. Weyreter himself participated in the initial training program in 2005.

“We start with the basics of welding and fabricating which includes cutting, grinding and gouging, and the basics of print reading,” he said, adding that from there the three-month weld training program moves into process-specific information, incorporating AWS and ASME welder qualifications. At the end of the program students are paired with seasoned welders as part of Major Tool’s mentor/mentee program to continue learning and perfecting their skills.

The continuation of such training and development programs is a critical part of Major Tool’s value proposition, and the programs continue to support the company as it heads into 2022.

“We’re seeing [late 2021 and early 2022] as being more of the same,” Weyreter said. ”We continue to see a tremendous amount of opportunity for growth within the contract manufacturing environment.”

 

Steel Craft Corp. of Hartford

 

Hartford, Wis.-based Steel Craft Corp. of Hartford’s business dropped some 17% (year over year) in Q2 2020. Then came what turned out to be an unprecedented rebound.

“Since the second half [of 2020] we started to see the rebound, and it hasn’t’ slowed down even now. I can’t hire enough people to keep up with demand,” said Tom Verbos, president/CEO. “It’s unlike anything I’ve seen in my 33 years in the industry.”

Like others, the company has turned to automation, including automated welding cells. But Steel Craft—No. 9 on this year’s FAB 40—also has turned to lean manufacturing. In fact, the investment firm that owns Steel Craft has several executives who previously worked at Toyota and are well-versed in the Toyota Production System. Steel Craft holds regular kaizen events and continues to push lean thinking throughout the organization.

The improvement culture starts with the first day employees are hired. New hires are shown not just what their jobs are but what their jobs could be in the future.

“Several years ago we created a career path document that employees receive right at the time of hire,” Verbos said. “We show what paths employees can take and what opportunities they can grow into.”

Career paths at Steel Craft aren’t always linear either. Assemblers can become welders. Welders can become brake or laser operators. And cross-training is continual, which helps make the operation more flexible.

“For example, many welders of ours know how to run brake presses. And our brake operators know how to assist in the laser, NC punch, and part-pull areas,” Verbos said. He added that such flexibility was critical in early 2021, when material availability issues forced workers to move to other areas of the plant to free constraints.

An automated brake or welding cell can be incredibly productive, but only if it has material. Cross-trained people, on the other hand, can move to where the constraint is and keep products on the move. Considering the record growth Steel Craft and others are experiencing, keeping work on the move has become more important than ever.

 

Mayville Engineering Co. (MEC)

 

“When you compare where we are now to where we were a year ago, the difference is amazing.”

So said Bob Kamphuis, chairman, president, and CEO of Mayville, Wis.-based Mayville Engineering Co. (MEC), a contract fabricator that ended 2019 with nearly $520 million in annual revenue. No. 1 again in this year’s FAB 40, the company reported 2020 revenue of $357 million, a figure that reflects MEC’s dramatic downturn in Q2 2020. But that figure also reflects the initial portion of MEC’s dramatic rebound late in the year. Previously furloughed employees were brought back, and robust hiring continues to this day. During a quarterly earnings call in early May, the company announced that it projects 2021 revenue could reach $470 million.

It’s been quite a ride, and MEC’s ascent likely isn’t finished. In April the company announced a strategic agreement with a significant fitness company. The customer name wasn’t disclosed, but according to company sources, the products include a fair number of stampings as well as tubular fabrication—processes MEC has experience with, considering its presence in the power sports market. To support this customer, MEC is planning to open a new 250,000-sq.-ft. plant, likely in the greater Detroit area, which will employ up to 390 people and commence production in early 2022. The plant will be highly automated—capex for the launch could be as much as $45 million—and much of that automation will be dedicated to the fitness customer’s products.

Automation technology, combined with a workforce dedicated to make the most of that technology, helped MEC navigate through unprecedented times. Going into 2019 the company invested millions in capex, which helped MEC adapt to rapidly changing customer demand. For instance, while plant closures at commercial trucking customers depressed order volumes in some areas, MEC still needed to meet rapidly increasing demand from sectors like power sports.

“The power sports area wasn’t considered essential,” Kamphuis said, “so they were shut down, and they were burning through inventory while consumers were knocking on the door for more products.” This meant OEMs needed to meet current demand and replenish available stock when they reopened.

Still, thanks to the 2019 capex investments, “when we ramped up in late 2020, we had that automation in place,” said Ryan Raber, executive vice president, strategy, sales, and marketing. “Right away, we were able to take advantage of the throughput that equipment gave us.”

Meanwhile, quotation activity remained high through the pandemic, and the latest fitness equipment contract (among other contract wins) meant MEC could pull the trigger on even more equipment investment in 2020.

And although the new capital equipment and plant itself are being created as a focused factory, it’s all being designed with flexibility and agility in mind, should market conditions change. As Kamphuis put it, “Even though these will be [customer] dedicated processes, they will be equally redeployable as needed.”

Like every other fabricator, MEC has been navigating supply chain challenges. “We’ve seen material cost increases and availability challenges,” Kamphuis said, adding that when it comes to purchased components, “we have very little that we source from overseas, so we’ve been somewhat insulated from that challenge. When it comes to flat steel and tube availability, we addressed that problem quickly, and we’ve done quite well in that area. On the pricing side, of course, everybody’s dealing with the same thing. We’re fortunate to have pass-through pricing on most of our material costs. There’s always a bit of a catch-up as [material] prices change … but in the end it washes out.”

Most of today’s progressive fabricators aren’t “wait and see” operations that simply hunker down during tough times. MEC’s planning for rapid expansion began during a time of unprecedented uncertainty in the broader economy. But MEC took the long view, assessed the risk, and continued to invest. If MEC had decided to just wait and see, the company would be in a much different place. If anything, MEC’s story proves that the risk of investing—in people, buildings, and machines—is far less than the risk of doing nothing.

 

Ironform Corp.

 

What does 2021 look like for Chicago-based Ironform? “Stronger, stronger, and stronger,” said Marty Kozarec, vice president of sales.

Terry Wogan, president /CEO, chimed in: “All of our markets are exploding. 2021 will be a year of lots of launches and lots of capex.” This includes an additional half dozen welding robots and a similar number of high-powered lasers. Right off the heels of the acquisition of Hayward, Calif.-based SF Tube, Ironform continues its hunt for good acquisition opportunities.

Being a heavy player in commercial trucking and similar businesses, Ironform suffered during the 2020 shutdown like other fabricators. The company let go 50% of its workforce temporarily, but “we maintained a strong balance sheet, we maintained everyone’s health insurance throughout the layoff, and we maintained our 401(k) contributions,” Wogan said. “After 60 days passed, the country started building trucks again.”

Similar to other fabricators, Ironform’s quoting activity in 2020 skyrocketed, and since last summer the company has won a record amount of new business. “We’ve expanded into aviation, defense, and construction,” Kozarec said, “and we grew tremendously throughout the pandemic. Products for e-commerce fulfillment centers and fitness products also factored into our growth.”

“So now,” Wogan said, “we’re double-lucky. We’ve been a [commercial] trucking supplier since our inception, but during the 2021 recovery, our revenue concentration [in trucking] is still lower because of all the new business.”

Like other fabricators, Ironform has had to navigate a tumultuous materials environment, though because it works with large transportation players, it’s been able to avoid significant material shortages. Also like other fabricators, Ironform has had to navigate a challenging labor market.

According to Wogan, though, the company’s standardized processes based on lean principles, combined with aggressive capex, have helped Ironform ramp up throughput and get the most out of the labor it has. The key to the fabricator’s productivity, Wogan and Kozarec said, has been the increased throughput from new machinery.

“We are really lean operators,” Wogan said. “We’re obsessed with customer build rates.” He added that the Q1 workload was up 60% over the previous quarter, and the company took that huge demand increase in stride.

 

O’Neal Manufacturing Services

 

“Obviously, 2020 was a challenging year for us, but we came out the other side strong. We saw a decline in most sectors, but our shining star was our work in material handling and conveyors.”

So said Michael Richey, director of sales and marketing at Vestavia Hills, Ala.-based O’Neal Manufacturing Services (OMS), who described 2020 as a distinct U-shaped recovery.

No. 6 on this year’s FAB 40, OMS really began to see the rebound in January and February 2021. And now, just like a lot of fabricators, “we’re really firing on all cylinders.”

The company has increased its investment in automation, including robotic welding and bending, and it’s preparing for a year of significant growth in its major markets, including infrastructure-related sectors like construction, construction equipment, and rail.

“An increase in infrastructure spending will really benefit us,” Richey said, adding that OMS now offers special profiles designed to save significant manufacturing time. Instead of a conventional hot-rolled beam, the material comes in custom shapes designed to minimize required machining and fabrication and offer design alternatives.

The idea behind these special beams, imported from Germany, is to shorten overall fabrication and manufacturing time—top of mind for many industry leaders as customers increase demands in the face of a supply chain under stress.

Regarding steel supply, “we’re faring pretty well under the circumstances,” Richey said. “Our supply chain team is busy, and we have directed-buy programs from OEMs.”

As for the rest of 2021 and into 2022, “we’ll see our normal slowdown at the end of the year,” Richey said, “but overall we have a very positive outlook over the next 18 months.”

 

Robinson Inc.

 

During the past year Robinson Inc. installed an indexing booth-style powder coat system. It’s not a traditional automated line but instead offers the company the capability to coat extremely large workpieces, up to 30 ft. long, with doors to the system 14 ft. square. Move upstream and you’ll see press brakes with long beds and high-powered fiber lasers that accept large sheets and plates. The De Pere, Wis.-based metal fabricator, known for its highly involved project-based fabrication as well as its production capability, continues to think big.

“At times, we were outsourcing a fair amount of cutting and forming that leads to our fabrication and assembly projects,” said Sam Thomas, general manager. “The majority of our direct labor hours are in fabrication and assembly, and we really need to be able to control that front-end of our process to meet customer expectations.”

This thinking was behind the company’s $4.5 million investment in capital equipment in 2020. For Robinson, 2020 had its challenges, but the fabricator didn’t experience dramatic fluctuations in revenue either. Projects were delayed, “but we rebounded quickly,” Thomas said. Since then, Robinson—No. 10 on this year’s FAB 40—has strategized how to handle growing customer demand.

Increasing its cutting and forming capacity has been part of that strategy. As Thomas explained, Robinson has no plans to bring all of its cutting and bending in-house. Its new in-house capacity simply gives the company more options and more control over the front end of the process.

The new machines give Robinson more lights-out cutting capabilities and greater throughput, of course, but they also give the fabricator greater design options. The large cutting and bending beds—including robotic systems that manipulate extremely large workpieces—mean the company’s products need not be made out of so many pieces. Few pieces mean shorter fabrication and assembly time, which lowers cost and increases throughput.

The company also has beefed up its engineering capabilities, taking on more work that customers previously might have outsourced to a dedicated engineering group. This, combined with recent capex, all aims to create a “single point of accountability,” Thomas said. “Our customers don’t need to cut a PO to a machine shop, send it to Robinson for fabrication, then send it somewhere else for coating. It’s just a single PO to us, and it’s a single audit to us. It’s about giving our customer a single point of accountability for a project.”

 

BTD Manufacturing Inc.

 

By Q3 2020, Detroit Lakes, Minn.-based BTD Manufacturing could see the post-pandemic boom coming. Being such a major player in the recreational market, BTD, No. 2 on this year’s FAB 40, saw volumes in that sector recover especially quickly.

“Because we had a volume uptick at a very early stage in that market, we began making capital purchases early,” said Jared Lotzer, vice president of sales, engineering, and quality.

During Q4 2020 and Q1 2021, the company upgraded its 4-kW fiber laser cutting capability to several 10-kW fiber laser machines. “With those machines, we’re able to drive so much more volume within the same footprint,” Lotzer said, adding that the upgrade has boosted throughput, depending on the material thickness and part geometries being cut, between two and three times over the lower-power fiber lasers.

The company invested in more laser tube cutting and added a number of robotic welders and robotic press brakes. On top of this, BTD has done most of its own integration work. “We’ve really expanded our automation engineering team, so we can grow and get ahead of the competition,” Lotzer said.

Automation has become especially critical as customers ramp up demand in the face of both labor shortages and material availability constraints. The company has been able to maintain its raw material supply to meet demand. “We’re not stranded without material,” Lotzer said. “We’re dealing with large OEMs who give us quarterly and 12-month forecasts. We’ve been very fortunate.”

That said, the timing of raw material delivery has altered BTD’s operational strategies. “We’re focusing on our flexibility,” Lotzer said, “and we’re getting especially good at setting up and tearing down.” Whereas before the company might have run larger lot sizes to build up finished goods inventory for a certain product, it now might run a smaller lot size and then change over. Lotzer said he expects capex investment to remain robust in the foreseeable future, combined with aggressive hiring. The aim is to boost throughput to meet unprecedented demand as OEMs replenish inventory—an aftereffect of plant shutdowns in Q2 2020.

Like many large fabricators, BTD in early 2020 experienced a softening of demand as major customers drew down their inventory. Then in March and April, many customers shut down plants entirely. OEM inventories, which were already dropping, fell dramatically in a matter of weeks. “The period between May and August [of 2020] was quite the whirlwind,” Lotzer said.

Less than a year later, demand in certain BTD markets are set to eclipse 2019 levels. “We’re seeing volume increases over 2019 in the majority of markets we serve,” Lotzer said, “the top three being recreational vehicle, lawn and garden, and [agricultural equipment].” Long term, Lotzer sees this demand continuing, adding that “there’s an inventory channel to build. As long as commodity prices don’t derail demand because of inflationary price pressures, I think we’re going to see a strong 2022.”

November 18, 2020

SF Tube – Ironform Press Release

 

Ironform Holdings, Co. (“Ironform”), a Chicago-based metal fabrication company with facilities in Texas, Missouri, Virginia, Washington and Illinois, announced the acquisition of SF Tube Pipe & Bending, Inc. (“SF Tube” or the “Company”) on Friday November 13, 2020.


SF Tube is an industrial manufacturer specializing in bending and fabrication of metal tubing primarily providing complex tubular welded assemblies to leading manufacturers in transit bus, aviation and defense industries. SF Tube was founded in 1987 and is headquartered in Hayward, CA.

“SF Tube has built an impressive reputation as a trusted tier 1 supplier in the metal fabrication industry and is well positioned to enhance Ironform’s tube fabrication capabilities” said Terry Wogan, CEO of Ironform. “Our goal is to continue to build on the customer relationships while leveraging our Lean operating model.”

About Ironform: Ironform’s seven manufacturing facilities offer redundant machine capacity in light and heavy fabrication, large format stamping, assembly and custom sequencing. All served by a seamless enterprise IT platform and unified Standard Work protocols. With the largest Engineering staff in the business, Ironform offers fast business quotation turnaround and unparalleled and scalable launch capability. For more information, please visit: www.ironform.com.

 

 

November 9, 2020

COVID-19 Safety and Health Update

 

As employees begin to return to facilities, we are taking measures in order to protect our employees. We have implemented procedures to help keep employees safe when they arrive, while they work and when they leave the facilities. When employees arrive to work, they will maintain a physical distance of six feet from other people, sanitize their hands, wear a provided face mask, answer a simple COVID-19 questionnaire and have their temperature screened.

In addition, we have ramped our cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing efforts to ensure a safe environment for our employees. We will monitor the situation, adapt accordingly and make any changes to policy in accordance with scientific data and guidance from national and international health organizations.

We are committed to doing everything we can to protect our employees, their families and the community.

 

 

November 9, 2020

Safety Update

 

Ironform Shows Commitment to Safety by Becoming a Member of the National Safety Council

Chicago, IL – On June 11, 2020, Ironform became a member of the National Safety Council, underscoring the company’s commitment to the safety of its employees from the workplace to anyplace. Ironform shares the National Safety Council mission to eliminate the leading causes of preventable death and injury, focusing on the roadway, emerging issues and the workplace, where fatalities are on the rise.

“National Safety Council members share an unwavering commitment to making people’s lives safer on and off the job. We are proud to count Ironform among our membership and look forward to working alongside them to save lives, from the workplace to anyplace.” – Ingrid Schoen, Senior Director, Membership, National Safety Council

Visit nsc.org/membership for additional information.

About the National Safety Council

The National Safety Council is America’s leading nonprofit safety advocate – and has been for over 100 years. As a mission-based organization, we work to eliminate the leading causes of preventable death and injury, focusing our efforts on the workplace, roadway and impairment. We create a culture of safety to not only keep people safer at work, but also beyond the workplace so they can live their fullest lives.

 

 

November 9, 2020

Environmental Management System Update

 

The focus of Ironform’s environmental management system is continuous improvement of three environmental objectives: waste management, reduction of natural resources consumed and effective conservation of energy.

Eliminating waste and recycling by-products from our production processes are key performance indicators used to monitor the progress of our environmental objectives and measure our environmental performance.

Aspects of our EMS include energy awareness driven by management; providing necessary resources for the achievement of environmental objectives; periodic evaluation of processes, the use of energy and energy consumption and procuring energy-efficient products and services.

Ironform manufacturing locations are certified to the international ISO 14001 environmental management standard which drives performance through more efficient use of resources and the reduction of waste.

 

 

November 2, 2020

IATF Surveillance Audits

 

The Imperial Group locations in Dublin, Virginia and Chehalis, Washington completed their surveillance audits to IATF16949:2016 in September, 2020.  IATF16949 is an International Automotive Industry standard for the business’s Quality Management System.  This concludes the 3rd party audit cycle for Ironform in 2020.  All Ironform manufacturing locations successfully passed their IATF surveillance audits with the registrar.

 

 

January 10, 2019

Ironform Chehalis, Washington

 

Ironform has initiated, engineered and completed a total plant re-alignment of our Chehalis, Washington facility. This re-alignment was designed and established to streamline the flow of our manufacturing processes with an ultimate goal to improve the quality of our product delivered our customers and increase capacity.

The investment from Ironform of $500K included the re-alignment of all work centers throughout the manufacturing process from raw material delivery to final assembly in a single piece flow.

Investments in a final weld manipulator along with material handling carts and devices have proven to be huge assets to assist our Washington floor associates to accomplish their goal of quality and on time delivery improvements.

 

 

December 12, 2018

Ironform Moves to #2 on The Fabricator Fab 40 List

 

The FAB 40 list is created with the help of those metal fabricators willing to share their revenue numbers and company information with The FABRICATOR and its readership.

These companies that submitted responses were then ranked according to self-reported 2017 revenue. Because most, if not all, companies are privately held, independent verification of reported revenue was not possible.

For more information, or if your company would like to be included in the 2019 FAB 40, please contact Senior Editor Tim Heston.

 

 

November 27, 2018

Detroit Tool Metal Products Hosts Company Picnic

 

Detroit Tool Metal Products hosts an end of summer company picnic.  Over 400 employees and family members enjoyed food, games, bounce houses and the biggest attraction a dunk tank.  Employees lined up to get their shot at dunking Plant Manager Ronny Berry while he taunted everyone wearing a rival football team jersey.  Employees enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and being able to introduce their families to their coworkers. This was a successful event and we appreciate the dedication and hard work of each of our employees.

 

 

November 20, 2018

Texas Weld Training

 

Ironform’ s Decatur, TX facility has partnered with the Workforce Education sector of Weatherford College in order to provide hands on weld training for current and future employees. This new program, designed specifically for Ironform employees will provide TIG welding instruction through a hands-on learning experience designed to complement employees existing skills in MIG welding. The program kicked off on November 13, 2018 and is being offered at no expense to the employee, as Ironform is paying for all tuition and materials needed. Ironform will also be donating scrap Aluminum to be used as practice material in all of the welding courses offered at Weatherford College.

 

 

September 28, 2018

IATF Transition Announcement

 

Ironform has successfully transitioned all six of their facilities quality management systems from the outgoing TS16949:2009 technical standard to the new IATF 16949:2016 standard this year. The first to achieve the requirements of the new standard was complete in January was our teams in Decatur and Denton, Texas. Soon after, the Detroit Tool and Metal Products facilities in Lebanon, Missouri achieved certification in May of this year. In the 3rd quarter of 2018, the Dublin, Virginia and the Chehalis, Washington facilities both joined the ranks of having the IATF 16949 registration certificate from Ironform’s 3rd party registrar. Ironform is pleased with this achievement because it supports their continued mission to meet and exceed customer expectations in all areas of the business.

 

 

June 21, 2018

Ironform Develops Multi-tiered Training Strategy

 

Ironform has partnered with local Technical Community College’s to establish formal training programs for existing talent and to build a pipeline of future skilled workers. The partnerships are part of Ironform’s comprehensive portfolio of professional development and training course offerings designed to develop the skills and competencies needed to excel in manufacturing. The partnerships are unique in that the curriculum was developed by a planning team consisting of expert Instructors from the Technical Colleges as well as a Core team from Ironform. Together, new certification programs “Manufacturing Technology Certificate” were created. The Manufacturing Technology Certificate programs are a 31 hour college credit certification consisting of six core classes and two elective classes. The classes are held at the colleges in a cohort fashion and are open to all students attending the college. Although the programs are geared toward newly hired employees, all employees of Ironform are welcome to attend as employee development is always encouraged. Ironform pays for the cost of all classes, books and seat times for all employees in the program.

Ironform has also developed an On-Boarding Employee Training program geared at increasing newly hired employees understanding of the measurements and blueprints they will use on the production floor. Ironform has contracted with an instructor from the Center of Workforce development sector of a Technical College that provides standardized employee development training for all Ironform facilities. New employees of Ironform will partake in three separate training classes: measurement training; basic blueprint reading; and advanced blueprint reading. The On-boarding Employee Training program is an important component to ensuring a supply of
trained and capable workers.

Ironform’s vision of developing a skilled workforce is making its mark on one local community. The Lebanon Regional Economic Development Committee along with the City Administrators Office has gathered key Manufactures in the area to participate in an open dialogue in hopes of creating an area workforce training program centered on the Ironform certification model. The manufacturing environment is changing dramatically as is the demand for high-skilled manufacturing talent. This community is working together to yield the necessary impact on the supply of well-trained workers.

 

 

June 12, 2016

Lean, Large, and Keeping Pace

Ironform Shows Lean Manufacturing’s Potential in Metal Fabrication

 

www.thefabricator.com/article/shopmanagement/lean-manufacturing

 

Terry Wogan is a self-proclaimed “automotive operations guy.” He spent three decades managing automotive transmission plants that had embraced lean manufacturing for years. He had some metal fabrication experience in 2000, but in 2010 he took a consulting opportunity with a large custom metal fabricator in Ohio. Then he noticed how long the changeover times were.

“I realized that fabrication businesses are extremely sensitive to lean tools, because their changeover times are so long,” Wogan said. “When you shorten the changeover, you have this leveraged effect where it shortens the manufacturing cycle time, reduces the amount of inventory, and reduces batch sizes, and you can eliminate a lot of premium costs.”

The traditional view in metal fabrication is that long changeovers are just the nature of the beast. This is a make-to-order industry. Fab shops run large batches to increase machine uptime and reduce the number of changeovers. Sure, they may have to break into a large job to handle expedites, but again, that’s the nature of the custom fabrication beast. Fires are bound to break out; those who fight them best win.

Wogan doesn’t hold this view. In 2010 he saw a market in which construction, agricultural equipment, trucking, and other OEMs experienced continually changing levels of demand, and a host of small fab shops had trouble meeting those demands.

“By using lean tools, we can reduce lot sizes and run as close as possible to what the customer produces in a day,” Wogan explained. “Cycle time equals takt time.” That is, the pace of manufacturing at a fab shop should change to match the pace at the customer.

This idea ultimately led to Chicago-based Ironform Corp., an 800-employee, $200 million contract fabricator with seven locations across the country. The company formed in 2013 as a result of two acquisitions: Lebanon, Mo.-based Detroit Tool Metal Products (DTMP) and Denton, Texas-based Imperial Group LP, with additional locations in Decatur, Texas; Portland, Tenn.; Dublin, Va.; and Chehalis, Wash.

Wogan, Ironform’s president and CEO, added that this isn’t a simple story of scaling up the metal fabrication business through acquisition. It’s instead a story about just how dramatically lean tools can change metal fabrication for the better—and about how well those tools can be used to serve OEMs on a large scale.

 

An Investment Thesis

After his epiphany in 2010, Wogan reached out to Dani Goldsmith, a colleague from the automotive sector with private equity experience, and Marty Kozarec, a 30-year sales veteran in the fabrication sector. The three scrutinized an investment thesis that essentially touted the untapped benefits of lean manufacturing in the metal fabrication space.

With thesis in hand, they set out looking for private equity partners, met with five, and were offered investment money from all of them. In the end, they chose Chicago-based Wynnchurch Capital.

“We were very thoughtful about why we partnered with them,” Wogan said. “Wynnchurch is a PE firm that specializes in middle-market manufacturing. They were very quick to grasp our thesis. And the firm also has no timeline. They are long-term investors. There’s no clock running on the wall.”

Wogan and his team had a busy summer in 2013. In June they purchased DTMP, a company that had a mix of large customers in agriculture equipment, trucking, and mining. In August they bought Imperial from Accuride Corp., a publicly traded firm best known for its truck wheel manufacturing. The Imperial operation was also tied heavily to trucking, but it specialized in precision metal fabrications, stampings, and assemblies.

Since 2013 sales in the trucking sector have reached record levels, while many agricultural and construction equipment markets have seen better days. This customer mix, as it turned out, has served Ironform well. Trucking has driven revenue growth, but Ironform also has been winning more bids for new (albeit low-volume) work from agricultural equipment customers. Eventually Ironform managers expect those orders to ramp up to major projects once the agriculture market recovers.

 

What the Customer Needs—Today

When fabricators tackle lean manufacturing, many consider 5S a good place to start. Wogan has a different perspective. He doesn’t see anything wrong with 5S, but he actually views it as more of an effect than a cause of improvement. If you implement the core lean tools correctly, 5S happens almost automatically.

So how does a contract fabricator implement these core lean tools? The traditional way is to show people how to look for so-called “waste”: excessive movement, overproduction, and so on. But Wogan approaches lean with a statement that really gets to the heart of the matter and focuses on the customer, both external and internal (that is, the next manufacturing step).

“Try to make what the customer wants today, and discover why you can’t,” he said. “That creates the opportunity for continuous improvement.”

Custom fabrication (along with most of U.S. manufacturing) is full of variability, with different products, volumes, demand levels, shop routings, and more. Many operations absorb variability with finished-goods inventory. Others absorb it with more time, like a four- to six-week lead time. Nevertheless, the job itself may have just a few hours of value-added time in which parts are actually cut, bent, coated, and assembled. All that extra time the job spends waiting to be released, waiting for material or sourced components, waiting as WIP in front of a work center. Put simply, there’s a lot of waiting.

Ironform takes a different approach. The company has little finished-goods inventory. It absorbs variability instead with its raw stock inventory. Even here, though, the company carries less raw stock inventory than it did three years ago. Managers analyzed the product mix, studied the material usage patterns, and reduced inventory levels for less-used sheet and plate. Using another common lean tool, the company delivers and stores much of the sheet stock near the point of use, such as within steps of the laser cutting machines themselves.

Employees don’t deal with expedites. They don’t manage massive cut lists and aim for maximum material utilization by dynamically nesting and looking out ahead in the schedule, filling the space in the sheet with future orders. Laser operators still may group different jobs on one sheet, but all those jobs are due immediately. This makes life easier for material handlers who sort cut nests and move parts to the press brakes.

At the press brakes, operators receive a list of jobs that need to be completed by the end of the shift, as posted on screens populated by Ironform’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. The company doesn’t use the software for scheduling. Instead, the ERP simply displays what employees need to know for the workday: that is, what jobs are due that day.

Scheduling usually doesn’t go down to the machine level. For instance, in the forming department, jobs don’t have press brake-specific routings. Instead, jobs are split by whether a part can run on all machines (simple part that uses common tooling); some machines (part of medium complexity that may require special tooling or gauging); or a specific machine (job requires special tools and/or machine gauging).

The supervisor and operators work together to determine the best sequence and how to schedule work through the department. As Wogan explained, it goes back to asking that simple question: “What do I need to do to finish these jobs today successfully?”

Wogan conceded that the company does not achieve the material utilization it might if it dynamically nested a week or more into the schedule. But any additional money Ironform spends on material is far outweighed by the benefits of cutting on demand—just what’s needed for the day.

Besides, dynamically nesting beyond what’s needed to satisfy immediate customer demand would go against the fabricator’s driving philosophy: to match the customer’s pace (takt) of manufacturing.

Driving this is the customer due date. At Ironform, if you see a subassembly on the shipping dock, it was probably in the assembly department the day before, coating and paint prep the day before that, welding the day before that, bending and laser cutting the days before that.

Aside from plating, Ironform outsources few processes, which gives the shop more scheduling control. Ultimately, when a part is placed on the loading table for laser cutting, it will likely be on the loading dock within two weeks or less.
Finding Commonalities

All this wouldn’t work without significant data analyses on the front end, what Wogan called Ironform’s “secret sauce.” The fabricator analyzes all SKUs and identifies similarities, such as material type, thickness, geometry (including the tooling that geometry will require), complexity (piece part versus large assembly), order volumes, and how consistently the orders come in the door.

If a job reaches a certain volume, it may make sense to build a hard tool for the stamping press (if, of course, the sheet type, thickness, and geometry make sense for stamping). If a job reaches a certain volume and order consistency, it may make sense to develop a cell, which in turn shortens lead times even further.

For instance, in Denton, Ironform has a multiprocess cell that produces parts for a nearby truck manufacturer. “Lead times are minimal,” said Mike Wogan, operations controller (and Terry Wogan’s son). “We usually get an order that tells us what’s due for the week, and we react in a few days.”

The scheduling strategy apparently is paying off. According to sources, Ironform’s on-time delivery rate well exceeds 95 percent, significantly above the industry average. In the past few “Financial Ratios & Operational Benchmarking Surveys” from the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International, on-time delivery rates in this business have averaged between 85 and 87 percent.
Standardization

Since 2013 Ironform has made significant equipment investments, and all of it is driven by the company’s approach to lean, including standardized work. The company has purchased eight new lasers since 2013 and almost a half-dozen new press brakes. It has also spent millions rebuilding and upgrading its stamping presses, all of which have modern, standard controls.

Every laser is the same brand with identical controls. The same is true of Ironform’s new press brakes. And the same applies to the company’s high-density plasma cutting tables. Across the organization, quality assurance technicians use the same inspection arms with the same software.

Ironform is also standardizing capabilities across its seven plants. Certain plants do have specialized equipment and areas of expertise that were there before the Ironform acquisition. For instance, its Virginia plant has extensive tube cutting and bending. But in general, each plant has similar capabilities to serve the local customer base.

With standard equipment and plant capabilities, Ironform has centralized its engineering in what it calls its “technical services group,” from which 70 engineers can be deployed wherever needed across the organization.
About Engagement

When fabricators talk about lean manufacturing, they often talk about getting employee buy-in. Terry Wogan said that, at Ironform at least, buy-in really hasn’t been an issue. This was especially true for front-line workers, who tended to be the first to appreciate the benefits of lean. No longer are they running around to put out fires. They get a to-do list for the day and get the job done.

Wogan added that Ironform has been paying for its employees to attend nearby community colleges, including Missouri’s Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield, to obtain certificates in manufacturing. These aren’t night classes either. Ironform pays them to attend during the workday.

A large company size also brings with it career opportunities. The fabricator has hired or promoted almost 100 people over the past three years—those who have bought into Ironform’s brand of lean. “We’ve given prime management opportunities to people who have been with these companies a long time,” Mike Wogan said. “There’s a deep knowledge there.”
A Bigger Future

Terry Wogan said that they are looking for additional companies to acquire, adding that Ironform may buy at least one more company in the next 12 months.

Over the long term, company leaders are seeing big changes ahead. They see metal fabrication, especially those companies that serve large OEMs, as an area of industry ripe for consolidation.

Mike Wogan put Ironform’s goal simply: “The ultimate goal is to grow to become the largest metal fabricator in the world.”

 

 

October 26, 2015

Detroit Tool Metal Products (DTMP) Expands Capability & Capacity In Missouri

 

Ironform’s Detroit Metal Tool Unit (DTMP) is building a 42,000 square foot addition to its Bethel Street plant in Lebanon, Missouri to house new coatings lines. The new Powder and E-Coat lines are required to meet rising customer demand and will provide DTMP and its customers with marketing leading manufacturing lead-times and cost advantages. DTMP is investing $ 4 M for the project and will create 30 new jobs when completed.

  • The E-Coat line features a 9 stage pretreatment system with acid pickle a large part window measuring 3’W x 6’7” D x 11’6” L  and a throughput capacity of 33,000 lbs. of parts per hour.

  • The Powder Coat line has a stainless steel 5 stage pretreatment, a part window measuring 4’L x 5’H x 10’. Line capacity is 20,000 lbs. of parts per hour.


DTMP has the broadest fabrication capabilities in the mid-west and is a Tier 1 supplier to the Agriculture, Industrial and Transportation markets.

 

 

January 12, 2015

Ironform Earns CAT 7 Steps Weld Excellence Award

 

Detroit Tool Metal Products (DTMP), an Ironform Company, has recently been certified by Caterpillar Global Purchasing for DTMP’s completion and adherence to the Caterpillar 7 Steps to Weld Excellence (7SWE) standard. By achieving 7SWE certification, DTMP has demonstrated excellence in welding process control through the development and implementation of;

  • A quality management system for welding operations

  • Certification procedures for the three critical elements of welding – people, processes, and equipment

  • Continuous improvement processes

  • The use of best practices and improved reliability by standardization

  • Continued quality performance by embedding welding into the DTMP APQP process and by using Layered Process Audits


The achievement of 7SWE certification by DTMP is a significant event and distinguishes that DTMP has indeed achieved excellence in welding and has met rigorous standards to become world class.

 

November 18, 2014

2014 Caterpillar North Little Rock Supplier of the Year Award

 

Ironform’s Detroit Tool Metal unit was awarded the Caterpillar North Little Rock 2014 Supplier of the Year award on November 18, 2014 at the Little Rock, Arkansas Windham Conference Center.

This award was received by Kent Wine, National Sales Manager (Ironform), and Ken Horton, Quality Engineer (Detroit Tool Metal Products) by a host of Caterpillar executives from their Global Purchasing Division and The North Little Rock Facility.

Detroit Tool Metal Products led the field of approximately 315 suppliers to the North Little Rock facility, with measured delivery performance of 100% on time, and 0 PPM quality rejects.

Detroit Tool Metal Products was the recipient of the 2013 Most Improved Supplier award.

 

 

July 30, 2014

The Fabricator’s 2014 Fab 40

 

The FAB 40 list is created with the help of those metal fabricators willing to share their revenue numbers and company information with The FABRICATOR and its readership.

These companies that submitted responses were then ranked according to self-reported 2013 revenue. Because most, if not all, companies are privately held, independent verification of reported revenue was not possible.

#4 Imperial Group Manufacturing, an Ironform Holdings Co.

  • 2013 Revenue: $118 million

  • Projected 2014 Revenue: $112 million

  • Headquarters: Decatur, Texas

  • Company Locations: 5

  • Employees: 460

  • Services: Assembly, Bending, CNC Machining, Laser Cutting, Liquid Paint, Punching, Shearing, Stamping, Welding

  • Markets Served: Agriculture, Construction, Power Generation, Transportation


#6 Detroit Tool Metal Products, an Ironform Holdings Co.

  • 2013 Revenue: $66 million

  • Projected 2014 Revenue: $71 million

  • Headquarters: Lebanon, Mo.

  • Company Locations: 2

  • Employees: 260

  • Services: Assembly, Bending, Grinding, Laser Cutting, Liquid Paint, Machining, Plasma Cutting, Punching, Shearing, Stamping, Welding

  • Markets Served: Agriculture, Construction, Mining, Rail, Transportation

 

 

February 27, 2014

Ozarks Technical College and Ironform-DTMP Will Train New Employees in Lebanon Plant

 

Ozarks Technical Community College and Ironform-DTMP in Lebanon are teaming to launch a new certificate program designed to train area workers who are looking for a career with the full-service manufacturer of precision metal stampings, fabricated components and value-added assemblies.

With the program, offered through the OTC Lebanon Center, DTMP will invest in training that will give their current and future workforce the skills necessary to excel in their careers.

“Here at DTMP, we value our employees and believe that they are our greatest asset. We are continuing to grow and are looking to hire hard working individuals seeking long-term employment,” Angie Hendrix, Human Resource Director for DTMP.

Brian Harlan, plant manager at DTMP, added, “We are excited to partner with OTC and we believe this program will help take us to the next level and be one of the leading employers in our industry.”

New hires at Ironform-DTMP will be trained in a variety of areas. Those areas include industrial safety, print reading for manufacturing, applied technical math, mechanical dimensioning and manufacturing processes. These classes are all accredited college classes and once the employee has completed the certificate program, they will be halfway through an Associate’s Degree.

When asked about the impact of the program, Mark Stombaugh, President of Lebanon Regional Economic Development, Inc. commented: “DTMP is investing in one of the critical areas of success, the development of a highly qualified team. We are really excited about the great partnership that has been developed here with DTMP and OTC. The certificate program will have broad reaching applicability in this community and throughout our workforce. OTC continues to bring additional, focused, educational opportunities here to their Lebanon campus. They really are a tremendous asset to this community”.

Ironform-DTMP will be sending their new employees through the Certificate program at OTC beginning in March 2014. The training is also open to other Lebanon area employers with similar training or education needs.

Sherry Coker, director of OTC’s Center for Workforce Development, said the program focuses on preparing the workforce with a variety of skills.

“These are fundamental skills and eventually the program will shift in teaching more specialized skills,” she said. “The training offers workers the skills they need to hold a well-paying, in-demand job.”

Copyright Schurz Communications 2014

 

January 26, 2014

Ironform-DTMP Wins Most Improved at Caterpillar Supplier Conference

 

We are very proud to announce that Ironform-DTMP won the “Most Improved Supplier Award for 2013” at the recent Caterpillar Supplier Conference.

Ironform-DTMP had 100% on time delivery and 228 quality PPM, the supply base average was in the area of 1,200 PPM.

The best in quality went to a supplier with 100 PPM. Let’s build on this award and know that each step we take towards improving our quality processes is one step closer to the “Best in Quality” award.

 

 

August 14, 2013

Wynnchurch Capital Acquires Imperial Group, L.P.

 

Wynnchurch Capital (“Wynnchurch”), a Chicago-based private equity firm with offices in Detroit, Toronto, and an affiliate office in Montreal, announced the acquisition of Imperial Group, L.P. (“Imperial” or the “Company”) from Accuride Corporation (NYSE: ACW), in partnership with BMO Mezzanine Fund and a management team led by Chief Executive Officer Terry Wogan. Imperial is a leading metal fabricator supplying light and medium gauge fabricated metal components, precision metal stampings, and value-added assemblies serving premier heavy truck, bus, and industrial OEMs. Imperial has operations in Portland, Tennessee, Decatur, Texas, Denton, Texas, Dublin, Virginia, and Chehalis, Washington. “Imperial has built an impressive franchise in the metal fabrication industry and is well positioned to take advantage of the anticipated recovery in its end markets. Our goal is to help transform the company into a world-class supplier and a value-added partner to our customers,” said Ian Kirson, Managing Director at Wynnchurch. The Imperial investment follows Wynnchurch’s acquisition of Detroit Tool Metal Products, Co. (“DTMP”), which was completed in June 2013. The combined business forms one of the largest metal fabricators serving the heavy truck, bus, and off-highway markets in North America. Imperial and DTMP will operate as subsidiaries of Ironform Holdings Co. (“Ironform”). DTMP and Imperial will continue to do business using their respective brand names under the Ironform umbrella. John Hatherly, Managing Partner of Wynnchurch stated, “Imperial represents the tenth corporate carve-out transaction in Wynnchurch’s history. We are excited to continue to build the Ironform platform with the highly complementary acquisition of Imperial. Wynnchurch is proud to partner with Terry Wogan and his team to build a metal fabrication business with best-in-class quality, delivery, and customer service.”

“Terry and Wynnchurch have a shared vision for Ironform and both recognize that we can only be successful by providing our customers with outstanding execution,” said Brian Crumbaugh, Vice President with Wynnchurch. Wynnchurch intends to continue to pursue strategic acquisitions and build a unique fabrication platform with industry leading capabilities and a presence in the Midwest, South, Southeast, and West Coast. “Imperial provides Ironform with a presence in key geographic regions in proximity to industry leading OEMs. We will focus our efforts on flawless execution and customer service. We aim to create the supplier of choice in this industry and the long-term partner our OEM customers are seeking,” added Terry Wogan. The transaction closed in August 2013.

Senior debt financing for the transaction was provided by Regions Business Capital. Lindquist & Vennum LLP served as legal counsel to Wynnchurch.

About Imperial Group:

 

Denton, Texas based Imperial Group is a leading, full-service manufacturer of precision metal stampings, fabricated components and value-added assemblies for the heavy truck, bus, and industrial end-markets. For more information, please visit: www.imperialgroup.com.

About Wynnchurch Capital:

 

Wynnchurch Capital, headquartered in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont, Illinois with offices in Detroit, Toronto, and an affiliate office in Montreal, was founded in 1999 and is a leading middle-market private equity investment firm. Wynnchurch’s strategy is to partner with middle market companies in the United States and Canada which have outstanding management teams and possess the potential for substantial growth and profit improvement. Wynnchurch focuses on investments in niche manufacturing, business and industrial services, energy and power services, logistics, transportation and value-added distribution. Wynnchurch manages a number of private equity funds with capital under management in excess of $1 billion specializing in management buyouts, recapitalizations, corporate carve-outs, restructurings and growth capital. For more information, please visit: www.wynnchurch.com.