Springfield, MO

Dale Donat is the last of three brothers to own Mid America Metals, a Forsyth company with 10 regional offices and clients across the United States. Recent jobs include sprucing up the sign for the Greater Springfield Board of Realtors.SBJ photo by APRIL TURNER
Dale Donat is the last of three brothers to own Mid America Metals, a Forsyth company with 10 regional offices and clients across the United States. Recent jobs include sprucing up the sign for the Greater Springfield Board of Realtors.


Business Spotlight: Shiny to the Finish

Posted online
A father’s fishing excursion to the Missouri Ozarks in 1975 led to his sons forming a multimillion-dollar business in tiny Forsyth.

Attracted by Lake Taneycomo, the cost of living and a slower pace, Ray Donat moved his family the next year to Forsyth from Chicago, and a decade later, his three sons – Dale, Dean and Don – formed Mid America Metals at 14886 U.S. Highway 160.

The company refinishes architectural wood, stone and metal surfaces and has enjoyed a 25-year run leading up to $8 million in 2010 revenue.  

“Basically, we go into the skyscrapers of the world and refinish the metal, stone and wood in those buildings,” says owner Dale Donat.

Dale and Dean were co-owners until Dale bought Dean’s half of the business Jan. 5 for an undisclosed amount. The third brother, Don Donat, left the business after two years, according to Dale Donat.

Mid America operates 10 offices from its Forsyth headquarters with plans for an 11th office to open in Miami this year.

The company has a nationwide client list including St. Louis Art Museum; Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.; Rangers Ballpark in Arlington; Kansas City’s Crown Center and Kauffman Stadium; Daytona International Speedway; and UPS World Headquarters in Atlanta.

Services range from removing a scratch on an elevator door to recoating an entire stone surface.

A profitable venture
For 23 of its 25 years, Mid America revenue has grown from the prior year.

In fiscal 2010, company revenue was $8 million, up 14 percent compared to fiscal 2009, Donat says.

Company executives have scaled back its fiscal 2011 revenue projections to the 6 percent growth range.

“When we started into the recession, in late 2008 (and) 2009, we talked with employees and tightened our belts,” Donat says. “We worked with employees and customers alike to try not to lay anyone off.”

Mid America has been able to maintain its record of no layoffs of its 85 employees by maintaining its growth plan even during the recession. The key was listening to customers, Donat notes.

“With customers, we got more aggressive, tightened up on pricing, redid contracts and just tried to work with customers,” he says.

During 2010, Mid America grew its maintenance base, adding 66 long-term contracts that amounted to $36,000 a month. The company now has more than 400 long-term maintenance contracts, which produce about 65 percent of the company’s revenue. The remaining 35 percent is new business.

“We had a record year in sales and profit,” Donat says, adding that profits increased by 65 percent last year.

Future challenges
Builders and developers are requiring their projects to be certified in Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, which Donat admits presents challenges to his business.

Most refinishing products don’t meet LEED standards, he says.

“The products we use are not green-certified,” Donat says. “Janitorial companies haven’t made it a priority. It’s a huge challenge for us that’s being driven by our customers.”

To achieve LEED-certification for existing buildings, several actions must be implemented, according to the U.S. Green Building Council, which governs the certification. Some of the points are attainable by cleaning departments.

According to, there are four levels of LEED for existing buildings: certified, silver, gold and platinum.

There are eight points specifically targeting cleaning, including use of sustainable cleaning products and materials; isolation of janitorial closets; implementation of a low environmental impact cleaning policy; implementation of a low environmental impact pest management policy; implementation of a low environmental impact cleaning equipment policy; water-use reduction; occupant recycling; and entryway systems.

Although refinishing products that are LEED acceptable may be more expensive, Donat says Mid America has tried to keep costs level and has established a green team of three employees.

The global market for metal finishing chemicals is expected to reach $8 billion by 2015 due to increased demand from the electronics and electrical, motor vehicle equipment and aerospace industries, according to a Jan. 7 report by Global Industry Analysts Inc.

Donat says the trade is highly specialized, and Mid America’s turnover rate has been low, 5 percent during the last two years. Still, company officials have set improving worker retention as a goal.

They’ve also set a succession plan in place, and it has a familiar ring.

Donat is hopeful that his son, Brandon Donat, a company vice president, will follow in his footsteps and run the company.

“I’m hoping to turn it over to my son, eventually, who will be the second generation,” Donat says. “I’ve worked very hard at it. I’ve read a lot about how difficult it is to have a second-generation and a third-generation company.”[[In-content Ad]]


No comments on this story |
Please log in or register to add your comment
Editors' Pick

It Takes a Team: ‘The Hub,’ WOW selected for design and construction awards

Collaboration was prominent Nov. 9 at the 33rd annual Salute to Design and Construction Awards.

Most Read
SBJ Live logo
Mobile First World

“For marketers in this day and age, it’s so important to think about how you are engaging with customers and potential consumers on that mobile device,” says Erika Murray, Global Brand Manager …

App-titude - Tracking Projects with Trello “I like to think of it as a big white board where you can put post-it notes and track your progress on the different stages of a process,” says David Brazeal. Trello allows you to make a list, …
Realities of Medical Malpractice Lawsuits “Medical negligence or medical malpractice cases essentially are a platform for families to bring a lawsuit against a healthcare provider,” says Debbie Dodge, Managing Shareholder at Hall Ansley. …
Never Stop Learning “You’ll know that you’re a trusted adviser when your clients come to you before they make a business decision,” says Tom Jensen, with Connell Insurance, one of Springfield Business …
Beyond the Spotlight - Hinode “One big thing we tried to do was to make it more casual — into a fun family dining experience that everyone could enjoy,” says Cosmo Kwon, Co-Owner of Hinode in Nixa, Mo. The change worked. …