DynAmerica has risen to award-winning status after a 1990 catastrophic fire interrupted production of precision-stamped metal components. Janis Hubschman tells the story.
After a devastating fire swept through 45,000 square feet of DynAmerica’s Muncie, Ind., metal components manufacturing facility in August 1990, the employees pitched in to clean up the site in the absence of the company’s ailing owner. In less than a week, the resourceful employees had the first machine up and running. Throughout the ordeal, not one of the customers’ shipments were interrupted. Further, one month later, DynAmerica realized the highest sales in its 10-year history.
In recognition of its miraculous recovery, DynAmerica was presented in 1992 with the coveted Blue Chip Award by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company. This national award honoring excellence in small businesses is presented to companies with compelling stories of challenge, commitment and growth.
A History of Resourcefulness
Indeed, an enterprising spirit has been at the heart of DynAmerica’s growth over the last two decades. Established in 1980 by Ron Reigles, the young metal components manufacturing business initially served the new and after-market shock absorber business, and the lock and cabinet hardware business. Soon, however, Reigles realized that the future was in technology. He invested in CAD to enhance the company’s design capabilities. In the mid-eighties, Reigles purchased a Bihler Automatic Stamping and Forming Machine. A variation of the multi-slide technology, the Bihler machine allows more flexibility in forming complex metal shapes because it enables the tooling to attack the part from any angle. With the Bihler technology DynAmerica gained an edge in a highly
DynAmerica was sold in 1992 to a group of investors led by Noel Pooler. It was next acquired by a Chicago investment group. Since June 1999, DynAmerica has operated under the auspices of Metal-forming Technologies, Inc., MTI. Twenty years of expansion, innovation and improvement have made the 130-employee company a leading supplier of precision-stamped metal components, including seat belt components, fuel pump housings, electrical components, brake actuators and shock bushings. DynAmerica operates two manufacturing facilities: a 120,000-square-foot plant in Muncie, Ind., and a 16,000 square foot plant in West Milton, Ohio, to serve a wide range of industries, including automotive, electronics, appliance, hardware, military and construction.
Stamp of Distinction
A custom manufacturer, DynAmerica works in partnership with its clients to design, tool and produce close-tolerance components. According to the company’s general manager, Chuck Crawford, it is this capability that sets DynAmerica apart from other metal stampers. “Typically, stamping components are viewed as commodities, especially by automotive buyers. Since quality is a given, they shop by price alone,” he said in a recent interview. “DynAmerica avoids that price trap by virtue of our machines’ ability to shape fairly unique parts. We’re not just a stamper, but a specialty stamper. When you’re in a niche market and you offer that value of making a part not everyone else can make, it tends to relieve some of those pricing pressures. Our one-stop-shopping convenience for tooling, stamping and finish processing enables us to add value for our customers, further enhancing our competitive position.”
Superior Design, Tooling and Production
DynAmerica offers design services that help reduce costs and increase efficiency. Using advanced CAD systems, the company works from customers’ specifications, or rough concepts, to create accurate, yet changeable designs. All their parts are designed, tooled and produced on Bihler Automatic Stamping and Forming Machines and U.S. Baird Multi-Slides®. This enables the company to produce close-tolerance components that not only meet but exceed the requirements for demanding applications. Guided by the philosophy that the production process starts with design, DynAmerica incorporates advanced quality planning and F.M.E.A. support at the design phase.
Unlike most of the company’s competitors, DynAmerica operates an in-house tool room. Only class A tooling is used to ensure complete precision and accuracy. So committed is the company to producing only the highest-quality product that it offers a “Total Tooling Satisfaction” policy, which states: “As long as we produce your part, we repair or replace your tooling at our expense for the life of the part.” In addition, a unique tool-and die-building apprenticeship program offers employees the opportunity to advance their careers while it supplies the company with a highly-qualified work force.
DynAmerica’s manufacturing facilities are fully equipped to keep customers’ projects within design and performance specifications and within budget while ensuring on-time delivery. In-House Secondary Treatment DynAmerica’s in-house secondary treatment capabilities give the company an advantage over the competition by allowing for complete control. “Typically, the primary stamping and secondary processing are not done in the same organization,” says Crawford. “Almost without exception, if customers are not dealing with us, they have to deal with two separate companies to stamp and finish their components.”
At DynAmerica, austempering heat treatment for high-carbon steels is available at the company’s Muncie plant. Other finishing capabilities include: zinc phosphate, alkaline zinc electroplating and dip-spin coating.
DynAmerica has made a strong commitment to quality control. A recipient of the prestigious QS 9000 and ISO 9001 certifications, DynAmerica has quality-control systems based on automotive industry requirements. Furthermore, they employ process standards to control all areas of production, from receipt of raw material through finished goods. Each component or subsystem is produced under the scrutiny of extensive statistical process controls, including raw material lot traceability and SPC charts with every shipment of finished components.
The company’s emphasis on meeting quality standards also extends to the environment. In November 1999, DynAmerica received the Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence and Pollution Prevention. Controller Thomas McCarthy said in a recent interview, “We shifted our customer base to a lower level of VOC (volatile organic compound) paint line, which is better for the environment. By getting customers to switch, we were able to lower air emissions and to discharge cleaner water.”
When Crawford looks into the company’s future, he sees expanded opportunities for giving customers added value and service. “In the future, I see us adding more automated assembly operations and more finishing operations to increase service for our customers,” he says.
Indeed, DynAmerica has already made strides toward this future with its recent purchase of two vertical presses. When electronically coupled with Bihler equipment, the vertical presses create a unique processing capability that will produce a new “world buckle” for one of DynAmerica’s automotive clients.
This level of initiative and ingenuity has earned DynAmerica $16 million in 1999. “Our goal is to build DynAmerica to $100 million in sales,” says Crawford. “This will take some time. I see a time frame of five to 10 years, but the potential is there.”