Partnership Drives Fabricator's Jump into New Industry

July 16, 2010
Ideal Fabricators works with Statewide Boring, expanding into aerospace, pharmaceuticals and wind.

For a time, Ideal Fabricators enjoyed a business of provincial quaintness. Based out of Livonia, Mich., the company had established itself 25 years ago by welding, bending and trimming metal for Detroit's automotive industry. Nearly all of its business was within a 20-mile radius.

But as much of the automotive supply chain was squeezed over the past decade, many going bankrupt, Ideal Fabricators recognized that had to expand the scope of its business. To do this, it looked into partnerships.

Strategic partnerships can take many forms, achieving any number of goals. But ultimately, they expand the limits of an operation and provide access to a new range of business.

Back in 2000, Mark Logan, vice president for Ideal Fabricators, sought to shift the company's focus away from automotive and into new industries. As he visited potential customers in other states, ones working in areas such as aerospace and pharmaceuticals, Logan heard similar stories: companies werent looking for just a fabricator. They wanted someone that could handle all the steel processing, machining and fabricating, under one purchase order.

"They didn't want any outsourcing," says Logan. "They wanted to know we were handling that entire project."

Around that same time, Ideal Fabricators had done some work with a local machine shop, Statewide Boring & Machine, in nearby Belleville, that had large equipment and was also machining large parts. The two worked closely, though with separate owners.

"We buy steel from the mill and it's sent to Livonia, where we cut it, fabricate it," says Logan. "Then it's sent over to Belleville for machining. Instead of having to deal with two or three vendors, they deal with one. What that's enabled us to do is draw customers from either costs and down south. We can go to a lot of different industries, with a lot of different customers and provide those services."

The partnership also resulted in landing customers in the wind industry. But it also required heavy investment. A German OEM not only wanted Ideal Fabricators/Statewide Boring to not only fabricate and machine their parts, but also inspect them.

"What we found was there was hardly anybody in the area that had the inspection equipment as large as is needed for these parts," says Logan. "So we put a small addition on our building, made it climate-controlled. It allows us to keep this process in-house. A lot of companies are very interested now that we have this."

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