Janesville manufacturer charts new course

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Jim Leute
Friday, May 30, 2014

JANESVILLE--A Janesville manufacturer that has enjoyed steady regional growth is poised for even grander growth in national and international markets.

United Alloy is in the midst of an 112,500-square-foot expansion that will double its production space and increase employment by 30 percent in three to five years.

The company on Kennedy Road makes fuel tanks, frames, trailers and complex fabrications for the power equipment and off-highway equipment markets.

It promoted Stephan Achs from vice president of sales and marketing to president and chief revenue officer. Owner Tom Baer said Achs will help transform the company from a regionally strong manufacturer to one that competes both nationally and internationally in the wider power equipment, construction and agriculture industries.

“Stephan's credentials as an executive in industry both nationally and internationally are an important part of the next chapter we want to write in the company's history of rapid progress and growth,” said Baer, who founded the company in 1999.

Achs has three decades of international manufacturing experience. He previously was chief operating officer of Forrer Supply, a nationwide supplier of polymer piping for the environmental, mining, energy, construction, industrial and water technology industries.

His longest tenure was as president and chief revenue officer for Kabelschlepp America, a German multinational company providing cable and hose management systems for industrial, construction, automotive, aerospace, petrochemical and machine tool customers.

“We're undergoing a paradigm shift within the company in order to accelerate growth,” Achs said. “We were known as a high quality company that was really a fabricator of complex weldments.

“Our core business was really one original equipment manufacturer, albeit a really good one, but we were tied to fabricating for other companies that wanted our welding or painting services.”

The company provided project-specific services that resulted in feast or famine cycles, he said.

“We were always chasing to find the next project,” he said.

United Alloy is shifting its focus to products rather than projects.

“We will develop the products and then identify the customers we want to go after,” he said. “We need repeat, annuity business, and we want customers who can plan their business for three to five years, not three to five months.

“Those are blue-chip, billion-dollar global companies.”

Achs said the strategy involves developing top-notch sales, marketing and design teams. It also involves an increase in automation and technology.

The company recently promoted Jeffrey Servis to director of business and market development.

“When it comes to insight on the power generation industry, nobody can match what Jeff brings to the table,” Baer said. “He has a strong firsthand knowledge of every element of our customers' business, from international manufacturing to local dealer networks.”

United Alloy now employs more than 100 people. Achs expects that to reach 150.

The company posted record sales in 2013 and topped that trend with its first-quarter 2014 results.

It's already signed several multimillion-dollar, multi-year supply agreements, Achs said.

“It looks like our timing is perfect as far as our plant expansion is concerned,” he said, noting the project should be substantially done by Labor Day.

Achs said the company considered an expansion in the Southeast, which would put it closer to some of its customers.

“They really wanted us down there, but our owner and others were adamant about staying here,” Achs said. “Our owner wants to see good old manufacturing stay in Janesville, the kind where you walk in and smell the welds and see the sparks fly.”

The city of Janesville partnered on the project. It's providing an incentive package worth $887,460. In return, United Alloy has agreed to double the size of its plant and add at least 40 workers by 2017.

The company's attorney said last fall United Alloy paid an average wage of $15.77 an hour.

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