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Metal Fabricating
Monday | 17 November, 2008 | 4:42 am

In the name of versatilty

Fantom Wire provides one-stop shop for wire fabrication needs

By Lisa Rummler

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Fantom Wire provides one-stop shop for wire fabrication needs

Take a moment to scan your desk or to peruse the contents of a nearby filing cabinet. Chances are that you'll see a lot of wire in the form of paper clips, staples and more.

Now, shift your gaze upward. There's a strong likelihood that even if you can't see it, there's wire in the ceiling. And when you plop down in your favorite chair tonight after a hard day's work, it's probably some sort of wire product that will keep the chair from collapsing.

Because you can find it nearly everywhere, it's easy to write off wire--or at least ignore it. But to Brian Ye, president of Minneapolis-based Fantom Wire Inc., the material's ubiquitousness demonstrates its importance.

"Wire products are responsible for some of the strongest structures available, including building materials," says Ye. "Wire isn't just a practical choice--it's a choice of durability and strength. And it's [used in] all industries. It amazes me how many different industries we work with."

Incorporated in 1995 and occupying a 17,000-sq.-ft. facility, Fantom Wire is a full-metal fabrication shop with a focus on steel wire. Its 10 to 15 employees cut, form, weld and bend in-house (finishing is sent out), and they use what Ye describes as standard fabrication equipment.

Ye says wire racking and displays make up about 70 percent of Fantom Wire's business, but the company also does customized jobs. Further, Fantom Wire will work with customers from concept through completion.

"We don't require a lot--we can really work off a person's idea and develop something for him," says Ye. "The nice thing about our business is that if the customer is retailing a unique product, or even a standard type of product, we can give him a custom display situation that he wouldn't find in a book somewhere. That's probably the most challenging area of the business: coming up with unique ways of displaying the products that [customers] are selling."

Fantom Wire also produces items that are not typically associated with fabrication shops, such as birdcages, barbecue grills and toys. And it doesn't end there.

"We've even produced items for the military--one time we made handles for GIs for hanging their packs on tanks," says Ye. "There's really not any one industry doesn't use wire. I guess that's what really surprised me about it, that there's no industry that I know of that probably doesn't have some situation where they're using a wire product. It's pretty much endless."

Working around challenges
Ye also says, however, that many common wire products don't require extensive tooling or molding, so they're easy to duplicate in overseas factories that charge less for them. Because of this, many companies choose to import wire products. This can be a challenge for Fantom Wire, says Ye, even though he has few domestic competitors.

"It's getting tough," he says. "But we've gotten an inventive and creative outlook on a lot of things that are being built or could be built, and I think that's what separates us from our competition. I'll even force myself to look at designs that I came up with and design away from them."

The difficulties facing all facets of the U.S. manufacturing industry are not unfamiliar to Ye, but he says the versatility of wire keeps things interesting and contributes to his cautiously optimistic perspective.

"Wire's been around forever, but it still surprises me how many times it reinvents itself," says Ye. "And point-of-purchase [wire racking] is so diverse, it's unbelievable how many solutions we come up with."

Additionally, the design process and seeing tangible results thereof continue to inspire Ye, and he says that he takes pride in being able to provide local manufacturing jobs.

"I like designing something and seeing it be fabricated," he says. "I like seeing it from the concept to the completion. I don't get a chance to go back to the shop as much as I used to, but I still get a kick out of seeing what we can produce. And it's nice to see that people have something they can make a living out of." FFJ

Sources

  • Fantom Wire Inc.
    Minneapolis
    phone: 612/788-5200
    fax: 612/788-5201
    fantomwire.com
    e-mail: info@fantomwire.com

Last modified on Wednesday | 22 February, 2012 | 4:19 pm

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Sources

  • Fantom Wire Inc.
    Minneapolis
    phone: 612/788-5200
    fax: 612/788-5201
    fantomwire.com
    e-mail: info@fantomwire.com

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