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Metal Fabricating
Tuesday | 20 January, 2009 | 3:58 am

Rigging out

Metal Fabricators Inc. ventures into architectural production, maintains commitment to custom jobs

By Lisa Rummler

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Metal Fabricators Inc. ventures into architectural production, maintains commitment to custom jobs

Metal Fabricators Inc., Atlanta, knows something about architecture. Specifically, the company's 30-member crew makes certain parts required for commercial buildings.

The sheet metal and light structural custom job shop produces mainly architectural and conveyor-related items. The former entails flat bars, angles, beams, channels, tubes and pipes.

"We'll make the small and big parts, both aluminum and structural, for architectural [applications]," says Alex Armas, engineer. "For years, we've fabricated break metal, structural reinforcements, clips, small end pieces, steel anchors--anything an architectural company would use for making a curtain wall, a storefront or a building facade."

In addition to those parts, Metal Fabricators produces outriggers, which are external aluminum sunshades that both help conserve energy and add aesthetic detail to a building. The recent uptick in the demand for this product was the result of many companies using outrigger sunshades, says Armas. Within the last couple of years, this phenomenon has given Metal Fabricators the opportunity to dabble in production for the first time, as well as focus on product aesthetics.

"In the past, most of what we've done is heavy, structural, behind-the-scenes, industrial and commercial architectural products," says Armas. "But one of our largest customers approached us about two years ago and said, 'We want to add a new product line [outriggers] to what we offer, and we need a one-stop shop.' They appreciated our service, and they said, 'We want to know if you can handle this nose to tail, start to finish.' We've taken that on, and it's grown dramatically."

He says this development has been a boon to Metal Fabricators, helping it gain more exposure through a visually appealing, high-visibility product. In addition, the company has established relationships with third-party vendors that have helped with some capabilities it doesn't have in-house, including waterjet and laser.

Beyond buildings
The equipment Metal Fabricators has on-site includes two shears, which can handle steel from 0.036 in. to 0.25 in.; four press brakes, which range from 6 ft. to 14 ft.; two structural band saws with a 20-in. or 24-in. capacity; an ironworker and milling machines.

The company also has five welding bays, where employees can primarily MIG weld steel parts, and it can do specialty welding for stainless and aluminum. Additionally, the company paints, or at least puts primer on, all the steel products it produces.

All these machines and tools are used for architectural applications, as well as for the other work Metal Fabricators does. This consists of mainly custom jobs and involves carbon and stainless steel, aluminum or various alloys thereof.

"As opposed to a production shop that just makes A, B and C types of widgets, we make something different almost every time" says Armas.

In addition to commercial architecture, Metal Fabricators produces mainly conveyor-related materials. But these are more than just custom pieces conveyor companies don't mass-produce themselves.

"We make actual conveyor sections and then all the other miscellaneous items, including chutes, platforms, mezzanines, stairways, crossovers and handrails," he says. "The 'conveyor' term is actually an umbrella that covers anything else--a lot of custom work."

Place in history
Metal Fabricators was founded in 1949, and it's been at the same site for all that time. The company owns the property and building, and not leasing or paying a mortgage fits into its philosophy of not carrying debt.

This enables Metal Fabricators to invest in the company and upgrade equipment, as well as keep its overhead down, which keeps its prices low. This helps sets the company apart, says Armas, but its service and turnaround time are what really define Metal Fabricators.

"A lot of people are finding ways to get their pricing down, and honestly, the reason we have a lot of the business we have with our long-term relationships is because we're small and flexible, so we can turn jobs quickly," he says. "Even some pretty large jobs we can turn typically in two weeks, oftentimes less than that--one week or less, depending on the customer and what the job is." FFJ

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

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