Corry Contract Inc. specializes in the manufacture of sheet-metal components, including chassis, cabinets, furniture, custom-fabricated frames and covers. Barbara Kram reports on the surprising variety of applications for the company’s design, fabrication and assembly expertise.
Corry Contract Inc. is part of the solution as the United States and the world turn to more secure methods of handling mail, screening baggage and shoring up the safety and reliability of nuclear power plants. The company’s experience in precision sheet-metal fabrication benefits a wide variety of applications — including frame components for mail-sorting equipment, baggage-screening monitors and seismic-compatible cabinets for the electronic gear used in nuclear power plants in the United States and overseas.
These specialties are certainly not what you’d expect from an operation that was spun off from an office furniture company in 1979. But over the years, a focus on engineering has allowed Corry Contract to grow into the production of large frames — even while the company continues to make office products such as computer equipment housings and storage and file cabinets. The company’s location in Corry, Pa., 35 miles southeast of Erie, is near rapid transit and locomotive companies, opening it to still other lines of business.
“We make the boxes that carry the electrical equipment that transfers the power from either an electric bar or a diesel engine to the motors of the cars of rapid transit systems,” says William Kafferlin, chairman of the board. Ranging in size from about 3 square feet to 10 feet by 10 feet by 20 feet, these components include electronics enclosures (inverters, logic controls and switches), support structures (bumpers and coupling mounts) and cabin components such as end walls. Corry Contract’s handiwork can be found in transit cars and/or people movers in the BART system in San Francisco and in Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Atlanta and Toronto.
Corry Contract is a strong link in the supply chain for customers including GE, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Bombardier. At the same time that the company pursues large frame work, Corry Contract continues to shine as a manufacturer of sheet-metal furniture, cabinets and panels. “Keep in mind that because there is so much more publicity on our frame work, people tend to think we’re a frame shop,” says Kafferlin. But “we still do a lot of sheet metal — cabinets, covers, panels and more — so we’re not only a frame shop.”
Corry Contract manufactures high-quality metal office furniture and special-purpose storage cabinets sold through regional dealers, catalogue retailers and OEM accounts that resell them under their name. The company is large enough to mass-produce and yet small enough to be flexible, making many products to customer specifications. Its products include a wide variety of electrical, electronic, pneumatic and mechanical enclosures and rack-mount cabinets from simple open racks to EMI/RFI-shielded enclosures. The company also produces pedestals, workstations, lateral files, open and closed shelf units, and even sewing pattern cases. Its special-purpose and stackable media cabinets help organize microfilms, microfiches, compact disks and videos, bringing order to the chaos of tapes, photos, negatives and slides.
When a manufacturer can design and form sheet metal, tubing and structural angles or channels in stainless steel, aluminum and carbon steel, there is no limit to what it can make. Add an engineering orientation to that manufacturing expertise, and things really get interesting. At Corry Contract, everything hinges on engineering services, including electromechanical design (prototypes through full production assistance), CAD/CAM and file format translation.
“We’re heavy in engineering. Even our sales force is full of frustrated engineers,” Kafferlin chuckles. “It’s an integral part of our business because we do a fair amount of design work.”
Kafferlin adds that Corry Contract is in the process of building the next generation of locomotive pollution-control systems, manufacturing the structural parts while its customers add the fans and motors. “The piece you see is the piece we make,” he points out.
Corry Contract has two Pennsylvania manufacturing and storage facilities, which total 192,000 square feet. The company can process sheet steel, coils, round and rectangular tubing, structural angles and channels, and aluminum extrusions. Its parts can be punched, laser-cut, formed, spot-welded, MIG- or TIG-welded to AWS standards, painted with liquid or powder paints, silk-screened and assembled to customer specifications.
Corry Contract’s sheet-metal tool and die design and fabrication shop boasts a complete assortment of inspection equipment and measuring tools, coordinate-measuring machines and surface plates, and a barcode data collection system for the shop floor. The machine shop is geared with shears ranging from 48 inches to 120 inches in width. Cold-cut and band saws sculpt tubing, structural shapes and extrusions, along with the company’s 20- to 200-ton punch presses. Recently, Corry Contract made a significant investment in laser-cutting technologies, up to a 6-by-12-foot bed size. “We can program into the laser the accuracy that we would need for tooling so we can make fixtures as well as the product on those machines,” Kafferlin explains.
Rounding out the manufacturing capabilities for this company of about 185 pros are its welding, paint and assembly departments. Corry Contract’s precision engineering and fabrication are backed by the enormous technical expertise that enables the staff to work on sophisticated industrial applications including nuclear power.
“Probably the most critical thing is that we have to follow a certified material requirement from the time the steel is made till it’s shipped to our customer’s customer,” says Kafferlin. “We track everything. In fact, we not only buy certified material, we have to send it out to get it re-certified.”
This kind of exacting control puts Corry Contract in the running for many major contracts. The company contributes to the production of materials-handling equipment for the U.S. Postal Service by making the frames and structures to carry the input and output sections of automatic mail sorters. It also produces the frames used in baggage-handling equipment, and the frames that carry X-ray monitors and other components of systems to examine checked baggage. With these capabilities, Corry Contract is well positioned as a world-class, precision sheet-metal fabricator for the future.