From solo welding operations to large sheet metal cutting companies, metal fabricating businesses face challenges during growth. Changes in technology and automation and discrepancies in demand among various industries that use fabricated parts can leave metalworking businesses idle in some areas and overworked in others. To maintain steady growth and gain new business, consider these ways to expand your metal fabrication business.
Monitor and Respond To Growth Areas
Certain manufacturers have more unique needs than others. While auto parts manufacturing seems to be stagnant with little growth in demand, fabricated metal for architectural uses, piping, and construction has been rising. Keep an eye on trends and identify those that your company can respond to most quickly.
Capitalize on any special skills your company can present. Perhaps you have strong capabilities in steel and aluminum or a highly skilled welding operation that can work off-site to address emergencies or maintenance issues. Use these skills to your advantage.
Another way to specialize your company is to identify a need and fill it. For example, architectural and decorative uses of fabricated metal products may be an area of specialization. From creating elaborate metal fencing and gates to working with artists to produce large metal sculptures and installations, smaller metalworking shops can carve out a niche for themselves. Small fabricating shops benefit from adding a vibratory finishing machine to complete the final step in the metal fabrication process for certain types of parts.
Upgrade Technology and Diversify Services
Industries and businesses that need custom fabricated metal parts want to partner with fabricators that can provide parts in a quick and cost-effective manner. CNC and laser cutting machines are expensive, but depending on your customer base, they may be worth the investment. Becoming a one-stop-shop that provides start to finish service can also be an attraction. Shops that provide cutting, bending, stamping, boring, and notching, as well as deburring, polishing, burnishing, and coating, may gain clients who need more than one service for their fabricating needs.
Hang on To Skilled Labor
Expansion is impossible if you can’t find skilled workers. Appreciating, compensating, and providing desirable benefits and accommodations, such as additional shift options, may help fabrication businesses hang on to skilled operators of CNC and laser cutting machines. Ask your employees what they need and provide them options as much as you can. For example, according to The Fabricator, Amerequip Corp. in Wisconsin was able to alter its schedule to provide weekend shifts, offering workers a 40-hour workweek in just three days, with the rest of the week off. To make this possible, other workers cover 10-hour shifts, four days a week.
Metalworking is an evolving industry. Finding a niche and filling a need will help smaller companies expand their metal fabrication businesses while keeping current with shifting trends.
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