Beloit, WI - December 16, 2011 - Several years ago, Ken and Diane Hendricks bought a dilapidated building at 801 Fourth St. in Beloit, which housed the remnants of a business that had gone bankrupt. There were holes in the ceiling, no heat and the lights didn't work. That was 2006.
Today, a state-of-the-art facility has emerged complete with a 480-ton press, 3-D engineering technology and laser metal cutting machines that cut to exact specifications every time.
If you are like many Beloiters and business people from across the area, you may be unaware of the resurgence that has taken place at the Stainless Tank and Equipment company.
A recent tour led by company president Steve Mayse found a clean, bustling facility that has doubled its tanker business since 2010. Officials are planning to add 30 new employees by the end of the first quarter of 2012.
"Ken spent the bulk of 2006 cleaning up the facility," Mayse, a former employee at Fairbanks Morse Engine, said. "In 2007, there was a heavy investment in equipment. That is when I came on board."
Mayse said he was headed west when the late Ken Hendricks asked him to stay here and run a couple of companies. Mayse said "yes" and since that time he has put his engineering, leadership and business skills into a now thriving business that is making inroads into new markets nationwide.
"This business was decimated," Mayse said. "Ken said he wanted to keep local talent in the area and I brought my operations and business experience.
"I appreciate the challenge of building and growing business. Diane and our management staff have been so supportive and she has an amazing vision of growing employment and business in this area."
Stainless Tank and Equipment makes tanks that house liquids that include chemicals, foods and sanitary uses. The company prides itself on custom tanker designs that can include tankers that feature 8-, 10- or 12-axle designs. Some must be kept cold, others warm, with heating and cooling elements installed in the tanks that use glycol and insulation placed outside each tank with a metal cover.
Tanks used in fracking -- which is a thriving oil extraction technique -- have helped drive business, Mayse said. Fracking uses chemicals to separate the oil from soil and surrounding rock. The chemicals are transported in tankers designed and built by Stainless Tank and Equipment.
Orders for fracking tankers have helped drive and double business orders since 2010, Mayse said, as drilling for oil is on the rise in Canada and in the Dakotas as talk of expanding oil pipelines move forward. The company also supplies tankers for transport companies used by firms like Nestle and Coca Cola to move their products around the country.
Steve Neas, consultant for Stainless Tank and Equipment, said a new commitment to marketing, a new Web site and a commitment to creating a new image for the company will also drive business.
Neas said projections show the company will grow from 40 employees in 2010 to 90 employees by the end of March. That means they will be adding 30 employees between now and then.
"We are continuing to formalize our distribution and get more feet on the street," Neas, a retired Rockton Taylor Company employee, said. "We want to get more feet on the street selling our product and diversify into other markets for tanks.
"We are not by any means the biggest tank maker in the industry but we are upgrading our image and everyone in the industry as a whole is taking notice."
Large stacks of flat sheets of metal sit at one end of the warehouse at Stainless Tank and Equipment. The sheets are ordered on an as-needed basis, Mayse said, each tank being created one at a time.
The large, flat sheets of metal are welded, cut rolled into one of two styles of tankers, one which features two small ends and a large middle where liquids can drain and the other with the more traditional valve on the back of the tanker. The tanks are custom made into dozens of designs which can fit a growing list of consumer needs, Mayse said.
At the other end of the sprawling facility sits a shiny tanker that is ready to be rolled out. Its brilliant surface glistens as it prepares to be transported to regional and national distribution sites that include facilities as close as Stuart Tank in Elkhorn, Wis.
Stainless Tanker's success also bodes well for local businesses like Welders Supply Co. in Beloit and Rockford Industrial Welding, just two area businesses Stainless calls on for some of its materials needs.
"The process we use and the types of tanks we make, there are no big trade secrets," Mayse, a father of three who lives in Beloit with wife, Karen, said. "Our business is very cyclical and we need to continue to diversify. Additional product lines and different models of tankers will help keep us stable. We are thriving on creating tankers with unusual, custom specifications."
Before the tanks are shipped, they are polished inside and outside and checked with water for leaks.
"Our 480-ton press is a 20-foot press that allows us to handle pieces of metal as long as 20 feet (all in one piece)," he said. "Many companies have to use multiple pieces. The engineers design it, the operator then feeds the material into the machine, plugs in the coordinates and it automatically bends it.
"We've invested a lot of money into new state-of-the-art machinery and it is helping us meet our growing customer needs."
- Article courtesy of Rob Baxter, Stateline Business Journal, Beloit, WI, Vol. 11, Issue 12