Portrait photo of Gretchen Salois

From the Editor

Gretchen Salois, Senior Editor

Onward and Upward


n this month’s cover story, we speak to fabricators large and small about what the last year has been like working through a pandemic and all that that entails. They discuss shifts in demand, supply chain interruptions, reluctant customers, unexpected setbacks as well as surprising benefits and takeaways to use going forward.

When asked how Momentum Manufacturing Group (more than 650 employees) has coped with pandemic-related disruptions, COO Steve Gore says it continued measured investment in new machinery and technology. It expanded and remodeled its Georgetown, Massachusetts, corporate headquarters to add capacity and acquired a second facility in Franklin, New Hampshire. Momentum also invested in capital equipment, including a new aluminum extrusion press that will nearly double its extrusion capacity, a new state-of-the-art powder coating line and another high-speed tube laser. Momentum also acquired a fabrication operation, adding another 100,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space and nearly 100 employees.

“We are ramping up this investment trend into 2021,” Gore says. “These moves demonstrate our belief that the manufacturing sector in the U.S. will grow well into the future, and we want our fabrication and full-suite end-to-end manufacturing solutions to be ready to support this growth.”

No matter what size or sectors served, fabricators must find ways to rethink how to pursue new opportunities.
Other fabricators like Weldlogic Services Inc. (40 employees) in Newbury Park, California, which specializes in laser and TIG welding, launched a new internet marketing campaign focusing on procuring more work for its new precision laser cutter—a $250,000 investment. “Even though the aerospace and medical industries are our two strongest industries, we’re always going after other industries, and our facility and brain trust is set up for the flexibility to meet customer demands,” says Lee Lollio, vice president of operations.

In Knoxville, Tennessee, 3-man shop Petty’s Welding Co. LLC expects disruption. “Everything in this industry is literally and figuratively on fire all the time, and material availability and pricing has been a big deal,” says Andrew Petty, owner. “While some of our smaller clients have put off work or reduced what they spend in a single purchase order, construction is booming and federal government investment in the east Tennessee/Oak Ridge National Labs area has increased.

“The highs outweighed the lows,” he says, “and we’ve had a great year. I think diversity is key to small job shop survival in economic downturns.”

ACE Metals Craft Co.’s (150 employees) CEO Jean Pitzo and Keith Stout, president, are optimistic about 2021 after a slowdown in business in 2020 and are rethinking where they can gain a competitive advantage. “Being able to look at and analyze our data in new ways has been surprisingly beneficial,” Stout says.

“We get a sense from our customers that there is pent-up demand and inventories are low,” Pitzo says.

The general consensus is that no matter what size or sectors served, fabricators must find ways to rethink how to pursue new opportunities while having the support system in place to promote growth. The last year has forced everyone to make the best of a punishing situation instead of wasting time waiting idly for things to settle down.