“Made in the USA” is more than just a slogan for Randall Waldman; it’s a mission. When he established Integrity Manufacturing LLC, a metal fabrication enterprise headquartered in Shepherdsville, Ken., in 2007 he wanted to promote American manufacturing and foster regional job growth. Dan Harvey describes how the company’s early and remarkable success is helping Waldman achieve those goals.
Whenever a product leaves the Integrity Manufacturing plant, it’s marked with a symbol of company founder and Chief Executive Officer Randall Waldman’s commitment to American manufacturing.
“Whenever we make a product for a customer, we stamp it with a label that says USA-KY, which stands for United States-Made in Kentucky,” says Waldman, whose new company designs and manufactures various metal products. “This label signifies how we’re seeking to reinforce the concept of ‘made in the USA,’ which is one of our slogans.”
When Waldman established his company in February 2007, one of his goals was to promote U.S. manufacturing, a foundation of the nation’s economy. He also wanted to help reinvigorate America’s competitiveness in the global marketplace by discouraging the idea of outsourcing. “American industry has got to quit sending their dollars overseas and encourage more home-grown manufacturing,” he says.
The advantages of overseas outsourcing to lower-wage countries have been greatly overstated, he believes. “The savings really aren’t all that substantial, and the quality suffers,” he points out.
Further, outsourcing is detrimental to our country’s international standing. “At the end of the day, if America is going to continue to be a world manufacturing power, customers have to direct their revenues toward supporting American companies,” Waldman asserts.
In addition, Waldman says jobs for the American workforce needed to be created, retained and sustained. His company is making its own contribution to those needs by fostering job growth in its own region. When Waldman started Integrity Manufacturing, which is based in Shepherdsville, he only had seven employees. By August 2007, when the company was a mere five months old, Integrity’s employee roster grew to include nearly 250 people.
Moreover, Waldman seeks to make his company one of the recognized leaders in the metal manufacturing arena. Advances he has made in that direction have already been significant. Integrity Manufacturing has been a profitable venture in each month since its founding, and Waldman estimates that sales for the company’s inaugural year could range from $30 million to $60 million.
His New Kentucky Home
When Waldman started the company, he acquired a 120,000-square-foot facility that sits on 10.68 acres in Shepherdsville, essentially the shell of a plant left vacant by a Canadian manufacturer that returned to its homeland above the northern border. The structure represented a $15 million purchase. The cost was covered by nearly $1 million in tax incentives from the State of Kentucky (offered in support of Waldman’s stated goal of creating local jobs) as well as a minority partner and Waldman himself.
Currently, the facility has 28-foot ceilings, which provides ample space for 10-ton cranes. “In addition, it is equipped with robots that perform the welding, as well as 3,000 and 6,000 watt lasers and about 22 pieces of CNC equipment,” says Waldman. “We have the standard brake presses that are all computerized, and we have the mills and other equipment needed to accomplish machining.”
The operation also includes three in-house product-painting facilities. “We can do powder coating painting, electrostatic painting and wet painting,” informs Waldman.
Waldman describes the company as a one-stop shop. “We can do all of the painting, stamping, fabrication, and laser cutting,” he says. “When customers come to us, they won’t have to farm anything out.”
The company also has a complete engineering and design department, which enables it to accomplish all of the in-house engineering a customer would need. “We can design product that is specific to a customer’s particular needs, from start to finish,” says Waldman.
To increase plant efficiencies and cost effectiveness, Waldman has integrated both Six Sigma and lean Manufacturing programs into the operations. “These programs have particularly helped in the area of inventory, and the time it takes to get product through the line,” he reports.
The organization also includes sales, maintenance, quality control and legal departments. Waldman has assembled a sales and management team that possesses a combined 125 years of industry experience.
Previous to founding Integrity Manufacturing, Waldman’s own experience included 20 years in computer software acquisitions. On first glance, such a background may seem far removed from manufacturing, but it actually provided him with valuable insights into the new sector. The software he sold involved resource planning systems, which target various manufacturing areas such as production, inventory, management, distribution and shipping.
Integrity Manufacturing is already outgrowing its own assets. As such, to sustain his company’s remarkable early growth, Waldman is planning to expand his facilities and workforce.
The envisioned physical expansion, which will be funded in part by additional state tax incentives, will include an additional 140,000 square feet. Integrity will acquire this added space by either building it onto the existing facility or by simply purchasing a new facility. “What we’ll eventually do will depend on the grants we’re looking to receive from the state of Kentucky,” explains Waldman.
Whether it’s added on or comes in the form of a new building, the expansion will have a 40-foot ceiling and 30- and 40-ton cranes, Waldman envisions. It will cost anywhere from $8 to $12 million, depending on construction and equipment needs.
As far as workforce expansion, Waldman hopes to add about 350 more employees. “Right now, we’re running in two shifts, but we’re estimating that we could be running three full-time shifts,” says Waldman. “So, our workforce could eventually exceed 600.”
Waldman adds that the expansions could be accomplished in a year. “The new facility could take us about 12 months to build, so we’re looking at sometime in 2008 for the expanded facility to be up and running and to have the increased workforce in place,” he says.
The expanded employee roster will include laborers, welders, fabricators, engineers, schedulers, purchasing department employees, plant managers and shift supervisors. Integrity Manufacturing is now actively seeking qualified candidates.
Strong and versatile
In addition to metal fabrication, Integrity Manufacturing also addresses customers’ conveyor needs. “We design conveyor systems that can handle flow for engineering companies that take product from one end of a plant to another, whether they’re robotic or manual,” says Waldman.
Though new and relatively small in size, Integrity manufacturing is still versatile enough to tackle a variety of projects. The company not only designs, manufactures and paints, but it will ship product anywhere in the United States. Clients don’t have to look beyond U.S. borders to fulfill their needs.