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Coated Coil
Wednesday | 11 July, 2018 | 10:58 am

Metamorphosis

Written by By Gretchen Salois

Above: Vorteq CEO Jim Dockey reflects on the company’s recent expansion. “We are positioned to service the need of many prepainted metal markets across the country.”

A collaborative relationship allows ideas to grow into successes

July 2018 - Architectural prowess and sound construction are wasted if not reinforced. A rain gutter system redirects water away from the foundation of a building. Without this precaution, rainwater will erode roof shutters and pool around a structure, seeping in and eventually destroying even the most solid foundation.

Central Aluminum Supply specializes in erosion prevention gutters and rainwear accessories. “We have everything that a seamless gutter contractor would need,” says Lou Lelli, a partner at the processor and distributor.

“We supply the coils that the contractor needs to run through their machines and manufacture the components needed to assemble the systems,” he continues. “Contractors can pick up their orders at any of our three locations [two in New Jersey and one in Pennsylvania] or we can deliver to their facilities. We also support our customers with specialty gutters and accessories such as half-round and box-style systems. We can bring this material to the contractor on the job site.”

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Central Aluminum Supply distributes coils to contractors making components used in erosion prevention gutters and rainwear accessories.

Coating gutter products and accessories requires flexibility and affordability. “We originally purchased our coil and coatings from different mills but then we shifted to using independent coil coaters.” It wasn’t until 2015 that Lelli met Oconomowoc, Wisconsin-based Vorteq CEO Jim Dockey that Lelli considered working with one exclusive coil coater.

“Before, we had to coat coil in the off season because it was hard to get line time and also get our deliveries out on time,” Lelli recalls. “We were able to work out a weekly coating schedule with Vorteq. They also stock some product for us on their floor, which is a huge bonus for us. When we need something fast, we don’t have to wait in line for a painting process because we know we have inventory readily available and ready to ship—the change was a metamorphosis for us.”

Relationship counts

Vorteq’s proximity to Central Aluminum Supply (Vorteq has multiple locations including Philadelphia, Chicago, Milwaukee, Memphis and Pittsburgh), coupled with an easygoing relationship has been the needed combination, says Lelli. “We’re relationship guys. When they expanded, they were able to offer us painting for wider widths, as opposed to being limited to narrow-width lines,” he says. “It was more cost effective for us to shift our business to Vorteq because of the relationship with their personnel, efficiency and quality of coatings—it comes down to some guys just don’t coat as well as Vorteq can.”

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Vorteq offered weekly time slots in its order book for Central Aluminum Supply, which previously was relegated to off-season scheduling with other coating companies.

That relationship and understanding segues into day-to-day operations as well. “If an order changes last minute, Vorteq can accommodate those changes,” Lelli says. “Everyone is at some point going to need last-second changes and we try not to do that unless absolutely necessary. But when we’re in a pinch, we know they’re going to do what they can to help us get that order out on time.

“Anytime you’re given more flexibility, that means you can transfer that over to your customers,” he continues. “The more we can adapt, the more options and marketplace opportunities open up to us. We’re hoping that, as we continue to build our product offerings, we’re able to help customers in ways our competitors can’t match.”

Shifting focus

Just as Vorteq works to bend with marketplace change in demand, it also uses its customer relationships to learn and expand its expertise. “We’ve learned a lot from our customers like partners Lou Lelli and Pete McElvogue as Vorteq continues to make strides into the gutter market,” says Sunny Flynn, director of marketing.

Vorteq recently acquired Wheeling Service & Supply to offer customers more sizes and coating options. “The recent growth trajectory of our building and construction business created the need for additional capacity,” explains Dockey. “The two coating lines in Woodstock [Illinois, outside Chicago] are a perfect complement to our business.”

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Central Aluminum Supply works with Vorteq to test out new colors and coatings in order to continue to grow its offerings to customers.

Eight coating lines in six different operations allow Vorteq to offer customers a wide range of capabilities and an expansive geographic footprint. “We are positioned to service the need of many pre-painted metal markets across the country,” says Dockey.

“We’ve been in business for 14 years and during that time we’ve grown and have had success—14 years can feel like a long time or a short time depending on how you’re doing and Vorteq has helped us move in the right direction,” Lelli says.

Venturing into new markets is not necessarily an easy shift. The risk and costs involved when testing out new products or colors can be costly. “We wanted to offer customers larger color and product offerings, but weren’t sure [they] would go for it. Dockey agreed to run some small batches to see how they’d be received by our customers.

“That helps us because it allows us to go after something new without a heavy financial overlay and risk,” Lelli says. “Like most companies, we cannot afford to have money tied up in slow moving or obsolete inventory. This approach has allowed our company to try out some new ideas and see what works.” MM

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