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Fabricating

Arising from the ashes

By Nick Wright

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Motorcycle lift manufacturer Handy looks ahead after a fire claims one of its facilities

May 2015 - In Sully, Iowa, on the morning of Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, an explosion from the back of a plant rocked Janco Industries Inc., which owns and manufactures the Handy lift product line. The blast stunned the 35 employees who were just settling into their morning. The ensuing fire consumed the welding and saw departments, ultimately reducing the east half of the building to a pile of smoking debris and damaging the west half of the building. Fortunately, everyone made it out unscathed.

The fire was started by either the electrical box on the air compressor or the electrical box on the wall by the air compressor, according to Joel Jansen, Handy’s owner.

Handy, a division of Janco Industries, is known in the motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle industries for its lifts, tailgates and shop accessories, which are manufactured in Janco’s facilities in Sully and Marshalltown, Iowa.

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At the time of the fire, Janco’s entire operation was housed in three buildings in those towns. After the fire, the company was forced to rent out even more space in the community, spreading them out to even more buildings. Sully and Marshalltown are about 35 miles apart, a distance that straddles Interstate 80 an hour east of Des Moines. 

Prior to the fire, Janco had been preparing to construct a 50,000 sq. ft. powder coating and manufacturing facility in Sully, the same town where their fabrication, machining and welding plant burned and was damaged. But after the fire, Jansen decided to make it 75,000 sq. ft. to house all of its Handy production and sales.

“We knew we needed to make a major change because of being in so many different buildings,” he says.

Early this summer, once construction of the new building is complete, the entire operation will be moved to Sully.

The fire and eventual expansion are the latest mileposts for Handy, a company that Janco Industries bought in 2010 when Handy Industries LLC closed its doors after 46 years. Handy had been a customer of Janco, a welding services company for local manufacturers. Jansen, his wife, Deann, and their team have since grown the Handy business each year since 2010, says Joel Jansen, who is a welder by trade.

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Serious lifts

Repair shops and individuals around the world buy Janco’s Handy lifts. They are rated for vehicles weighing 750 lbs., 1,000 lbs., 1,500 lbs. and 1,800 lbs., depending on the lift. Optional attachments let users lift ATVs, mowers and utility task vehicles—which resemble golf carts on steroids.

Janco uses domestically-sourced steel for its lifts, ranging from 8 gauge to 12 gauge. It’s all carbon steel, “usually a picked and oiled material so we get a nice powder finish,” says Jansen. 

The manufacturing process relies mainly on these processes: laser cutting (up to 1 in. thick), CNC bending on press brakes (up to 12 ft. long), CNC machining and welding, including a recently purchased robotic welder. Janco has two-decade-old powder coating system, but plans to install a new one, twice as large, in its new building.

Although Janco’s Handy isn’t the only lift game around, its resilience in the face of the Great Recession and crippling fire and progress as a U.S.-made product is encouraging. Competition from Chinese manufacturers keeps Janco on its toes. “The quality of our lift is much better,” says Jansen, adding all its lifts have a lifetime warranty.

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“One of our challenges has been lead times for our customers,” says Jansen. In Sully, the laser, forming, machining are done in one building, and the welding in the another. Then, after the weldments are trucked to Marshalltown, they’re powder coated and assembled in one building, the finished products are warehoused and shipped from the fourth building. With that many locations, any breakdown in communication—not to mention weather—could cut production in half. “Things have gotten better, but once we are in the new building, we’ll transfer parts 30 ft. instead of 35 miles. That will be huge for us and we are excited to put it all under one roof.”

Just like the mythical phoenix rising from the ashes, Janco has formed itself into a nearly 45-plus employee fabrication operation. The new building on the way should give its workflow—and bottom line—a big lift. FFJ

Sources

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Company Profiles

AIR FILTRATION

HYDRAULIC PRESSES

NESTING SOFTWARE

SERVICE CENTERS

Camfil APC - Equipment Beckwood Press Co. Metamation Inc. Admiral Steel
Camfil APC - Replacement Filters Triform

PLASMA TECHNOLOGY

Alliance Steel
Donaldson Company Inc.

LASER TECHNOLOGY

Messer Cutting Systems Inc.

SOFTWARE

BENDING/FOLDING

AMADA AMERICA, INC.

PLATE

Enmark Systems Inc.
MetalForming Inc. Mazak Optonics Corp. Peddinghaus Lantek Systems Inc.
RAS Systems LLC MC Machinery Systems Inc.

PLATE & ANGLE ROLLS

SigmaTEK Systems LLC

BEVELING

Murata Machinery, USA, Inc. Davi Inc. Striker Systems
Steelmax Tools LLC TRUMPF Inc.

PRESS BRAKE TOOLING

STAMPING/PRESSES

COIL PROCESSING

LINEAR POSITION SENSORS

Mate Precision Tooling AIDA-America Corp.
Bradbury Group MTS Sensors Rolleri USA

STEEL

Burghardt + Schmidt Group

MATERIAL HANDLING

PRESS BRAKES

Alliance Steel
Butech Bliss Fehr Warehouse Solutions Inc. AMADA AMERICA, INC.

TUBE & PIPE

Red Bud Industries UFP Industrial Automec Inc. BLM Group
Tishken

MEASUREMENT & QUALITY CONTROL

MC Machinery Systems Inc. Prudential Stainless & Alloys

CONVEYOR SYSTEMS

Advanced Gauging Technologies SafanDarley

WATERJET

Mayfran International

METAL FABRICATION MACHINERY

PUNCHING

Barton International

DEBURRING/FINISHING

Cincinnati Inc. Hougen Manufacturing Flow International Corporation
ATI Industrial Automation LVD Strippit

SAWING

Jet Edge Waterjet Systems
Lissmac Corp. Scotchman Industries Inc. Behringer Saws Inc.

WELDING

Osborn Trilogy Machinery Inc. DoALL Sawing American Weldquip
SuperMax Tools

METAL FORMING

HE&M Saw Strong Hand Tools
Timesavers FAGOR Arrasate USA Inc. Savage Saws T. J. Snow Company

 

MetalForming Inc.

 

 

 

MICROFINISHING TOOLS

 

 

 

Titan Tool Supply Inc.

 

 


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