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Stainless Steel
Monday | 15 December, 2008 | 7:39 am

Stainless with and edge

By Lisa Rummler

December 2008 - What a difference 20 years has made at Rolled Metal Products Inc. The company--which has operations in Bensalem, Pa.; Alsip, Ill.; and Torrington, Conn.--started in 1988 with seven employees in a 6,000-square-foot facility with just one slitter. Fast-forward to November 2008, and the company has about 70 employees among its three facilities, which occupy a collective 149,000 square feet and contain various state-of-the-art equipment.

Peter McGuire, vice president and general manager of the Connecticut and Pennsylvania operations, says the company’s initial focus was the sale of specialty stainless strip and proprietary aluminum products. After five years, to accommodate its growth, Rolled Metal Products moved from its first office in Bensalem, Pa., to a larger facility in Hatboro, Pa.

Between 1988 and 1990, the company added sales representatives to enhance its coverage in New England. It already had staff representing Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. In 1997, Rolled Metal Products opened a sales territory in Ohio.

"That gave us the ability to service the mid-Atlantic region and service New England from the Hatboro facility," says McGuire. "Adding representation in Ohio enabled us to expand into the Midwest."

Adding facilities
In 1998, Rolled Metal Products expanded its sales force to the mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions. It also added a full-time salesperson in Chicago, and it expanded by acquiring Dynamic Metals, Alsip, Ill., near Chicago.

"That gave us the ability, from a geographic point of view, to support the sales efforts of our full-time sales team in Chicago and the Midwestern states," says McGuire. "It also gave us additional capabilities, in that Dynamic Metals was heavily involved with edge-conditioned and oscillate-wound coil products. Those were new capabilities to Rolled Metal Products. So it not only helped us grow geographically, it gave us the ability to supply a whole new product line, which supported the endeavors that we’d already had under way in both New England and the mid-Atlantic states."

In 2005, the Pennsylvania operation moved to a larger facility in Bensalem, Pa., to accommodate its growth. At this time, it also added a 60-inch-wide Braner slitting line, which McGuire describes as a large step in the company’s development.

"This is a state-of-the-art piece of slitting equipment," he says. "It enables us not only to stay up with our increasing volume but to also compete with the ever-increasing demands for quality."

In August 2007, the acquisition of Torrington Brass & Steel in Connecticut further increased the company’s capabilities.

"Torrington Brass & Steel was a well-known company in the high-carbon, brass, copper, stainless steel slit and oscillate-wound coil business," says McGuire. "They had similar equipment-type processes as our [Illinois] facility. The difference was that [the Illinois facility] could process material much thicker and wider, and the Connecticut facility could process material that was much thinner and narrower. They complemented each other in terms of overall capability."

Even with its growth and modernized equipment, McGuire says Rolled Metal Products has retained some of the fundamental goals and priorities it had in 1988.

"Broadly speaking, we’re the same in that the company is still involved in the distribution and processing of specialty metals," he says. "We’re also still dedicated to our customers’ need for quality and reliable service, and we still work closely with our mill supply lines to make sure our customers have the best products available."

Shared focus, varying capabilities
Despite the distance among Rolled Metal Products’ facilities, the three operations have the same driving, predominant product: stainless steel.

"We’re heavily involved with stainless steel and carry most of the 200, 300 and 400 series alloys in inventory," says McGuire. "We offer a broad range of stainless alloys, including all the austenitic and ferritic varieties of stainless steel, along with a comprehensive inventory of high-carbon, brass and copper. Our services are slitting, cut-to-length, edge conditioning and oscillate winding."

High-carbon, brass and copper are found more at the Pennsylvania and Connecticut locations because many of their accounts use all three products. The Illinois location, by contrast, focuses almost exclusively on stainless steel and toll processing opportunities.

And like the overall Rolled Metals Product organization, the Illinois operation has stayed true to its small-company roots, says Ken Agema, general manager of Rolled Metal Products’ Alsip, Ill., facility.

"It’s that do-whatever-it-takes attitude," he says. "I think, sometimes, as companies grow, you can lose a part of that. Everything becomes so much more formalized and structured. We’ve been able to maintain that small-company aggressiveness."

Agema says the Illinois facility also remains staffed with dedicated, knowledgeable employees who are quick on their feet. Besides having the ability to slit narrow and provide a variety of edges and large oscillated coils, this nimbleness sets Rolled Metal Products apart.

"We had a situation recently where a customer was in a shutdown mode, and we were able to receive material in the morning, slit it, edge it, oscillate wind it and have it out the same night," he says. "Under normal circumstances, you’re looking at a one- to two-week lead time. But it was dramatic, and I think that’s the sense of urgency that comes from having a small-company mentality. We operate that way around here every day."

Rolled Metal Products’ Illinois operation has also moved into a larger facility while adding a state-of-the-art piece of equipment: a multiple-strand slitting line built to the company’s specifications that slits, edges and oscillate winds all in one operation. Agema says Rolled Metal Products plans on expanding the line with additional winders in early 2009.

The slitting capabilities vary across the three facilities. The Illinois operation can accommodate thicknesses from 0.005 inch to 0.125 inch, widths of 0.25 inch to 24 inches and coils up to 15,000 pounds. In Pennsylvania, the thickness capabilities are the same, but that facility can accommodate widths from 0.25 inch to 60 inches, as well as coils up to 40,000 pounds. The Connecticut facility slits material from 0.005 inch to 0.093 inch thick, 0.09 inch to 20 inches wide and coils up to 7,000 pounds.

People first
McGuire agrees with Agema’s assessment of Rolled Metal Products’ employees. He says they’re experienced, have great technical ability and are dedicated to the success of the company’s customers. One client in particular recognizes and appreciates the devotion.

Bob Staudinger, president of National Mfg. Co. Inc., Chatham, N.J., says Rolled Metal Products has been supplying the company with stainless steel, a variety of alloy series and other products for about 20 years. The relationship between Rolled Metal Products and National Mfg. is much more in-depth than customer-supplier, however.

"It’s really more like a partnership," says Staudinger. "We look toward [Rolled Metal Products] to help us not only with supplying material but with technical information regarding metal, the metals market and metallurgical issues about the materials we’re purchasing or may consider purchasing. It’s more than just purchase order and delivery. It’s a relationship in which we share information, business strategy and the technical components of the business to help each other."

The deep-draw and shallow-draw metal form supplier and specialty exotic stamping company, which was founded in 1944, is a contract manufacturer that makes parts for implantable medical devices, satellites, military equipment and industrial equipment, among others. And even though National Mfg. and Rolled Metal Products don’t have the same business focus, their fundamentals are similar, according to Staudinger.

"At National Mfg., all of our employees know that when we deal with our customers, it’s not that we just want to meet their requirements, but we want to delight them," he says. "I think [Rolled Metal Products sees] it the same way--they want to delight us. And they’re always looking for a way to add value to our business and to our relationship."

In addition to being committed to their customers, both National Mfg. and Rolled Metal Products emphasize the importance of their employees and the role they play in the businesses’ success.

"As with Rolled Metal Products, it’s all about the people," Staudinger says. "You could have the newest plant and the best equipment, but if you don’t have the right people, it doesn’t work. That’s how we view it, as well. Both businesses want to be world class, and I think both of us achieve that. We look to deal with other companies that are best in class, and Rolled Metal Products certainly is that." MM

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