Elcho’s Northern Steel Poised For Growth
Northern Steel Manufacturing, a custom metal fabrication and machining house. was founded in September, 2010 by Darrell Lake, Mike Scott, and Bob Van Schyndel. Collectively, the three had well over 60 years of metal fabrication and machining experience, and a thick file of customer contacts.
They initially began leasing 9,000 square feet of a larger facility in Elcho. By the end of the first year they grew to the point of taking on the full facility at 36,000 square feet. Since the company’s founding and subsequent changes, present ownership is made up of Darrell Lake, Mike Scott, Lydell Kluck, and Denise Stevens. The company has a current rate of growth averaging about 35 percent per year.
In spring of 2014 with the help of the Langlade County Business Development Corp., Northern Steel was able to secure a low interest loan for capital equipment purchases, oriented around job growth. At the point of the initial loan application, the company employed 16 people. By this past fall, the company grew to 24 full time employees. The loan enabled the company to purchase a new 10-ton crane, a 240-ton press brake, another fork truck, and a sheet lifter for laser table load/unloading. The result of those capital expenditures and the accompanying improvements in efficiencies, average weekly through-put was increased by 41 percent
“We build per customer prints and specs, high tolerance OEM (original equipment manufacturers) components parts,” Kluck said. “Our customers rely on us to provide fabricated and machined parts for industrial trucks, wood processing equipment, high strength wear blades, bins, platforms, sheet metal guarding, weldments, electrical generator parts, and more.
“One of the most exciting things about working in our business is the very custom nature of what we do,” Kluck continued. “While often the items we build we produce again and again, every single part we do is different from the next. This creates both opportunity and challenges. The challenge is that we require a highly trained work force, because of the high tolerances required and variety between every customer purchase order. The opportunity arises when we provide the high and consistent quality required, and hold high our delivery promises to these OEM’s, the pressure to provide the lowest price begins to fade. The equipment that we need to produce these high tolerance parts are lasers and plasma cutting equipment, press brakes, punching equipment, CNC machining centers and lathes, both manual and robotic welding, sawing, and powder coating equipment.”
Kluck said that the company’s rate of growth in the first four years has been about 35 percent annually, something that he hopes will continue for at least two to three more years yet. The goal in the next five years is to grow our revenue to $10 million annually.
“Certainly that will mean continuing to add skilled machinists, welders, press brake operators, machine programmers and more,” he said.
To accomplish this Northern Steel has already begun to cultivate relationships with the technical colleges in the area, and have found them to be very helpful.
“We are very pleased that those in charge of managing the curriculum at these facilities are eager to listen and make adjustments to the courses they offer,” Kluck said. “Actually we have already hired three welders which in one way or another, we came in contact with through the technical colleges. In order to achieve the desired level of revenue projected, we expect the company would need to add 50 or more positions, in the next five years.”
In regards to hiring, when considering a new applicant,Northern Steel looks for a basic knowledge of the job it is looking to fill. Whether it be a machinist, welder, press brake operator, laser or plasma machine operator; the company is willing to train as needed, but expects to see basic skills.
Manufacturing Spotlight is a limited-term series that looks at some of the industries located in the Antigo area with an eye on letting potential employees understand the opportunities that exist in the region and the skills required. It is being done in cooperation with the Langlade County Economic Development Corporation and Northcentral Technical College. Comments and suggestions are always invited and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Antigo Daily Journal