Hope in metal fabricating

March 5, 2009
By: Dan Davis

If metal fabricating is hard work, metal fabricators are working especially hard during these economic times. Matrix Metalcraft is no exception.

The 25-person shop in Clinton Township, Mich., is working hard to chase down new business while the automotive industry remains moribund. The 9-year-old company had developed a good reputation for quickly turning around quality prototypes for new automotive projects and even doing some small-scale production work, such as fabricating parts for right-hand versions of domestic models destined for export. Good reputations in slow industries, however, don"t do much good.

We are looking for ways to diversify. We aren"t waiting for automotive to come back, said Ryan Willette, the company"s director of sales and marketing.

One of the most-promising for hope at Matrix Metalcraft is in the alternative-energy market. The company actually has fabricated large brackets and similar parts for the wind turbines" internal mechanical parts, but has yet to ramp up any large-scale production runs. The potential is great because, Willette said, Michigan alternative-energy proponents are hoping to have 1,000 megawatts of power generated by wind turbines in the near future. Right now, Willette said, only 127 wind towers have been installed in Michigan, and they generate only a little more than 200 megawatts of power.

A sign of hope—that"s kind of what these green-energy markets have become. There"s a lot of excitement. There"s a lot of vocal support from politicians. But is there a market?

The push certainly hasn"t slowed even with the lower gasoline prices. In fact, places such as Michigan have targeted alternative energy as a business sector to invest in for the betterment of the state"s future. It"s hard to ignore these types of efforts and coinciding events.

So a little hope is good, but it"s not a substitute for hard work. Willette is certain he"s targeted the right people at some of these wind-power companies; he just needs to convince them that Matrix Metalcraft"s laser cutting capabilities and additional fabricating skills can help them achieve a profitable production approach.

And the company is also chasing opportunities in the defense industry and even transportation. The fruits of the company"s labor are expected to pay off in the coming weeks, and in the meantime perhaps the automotive industry may bounce back.

At least, we always can hope.

Dan Davis

Dan Davis

FMA Communications Inc.
2135 Point Blvd
Elgin, IL 60123
Phone: 815-227-8281