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Former SRC manager acquires Design Fabrication

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Springfield-based Design Fabrication Inc., a structural steel manufacturer that serves area general contractors, sold in December to a longtime employee and manager of Springfield Remanufacturing Corp.

Dianna Devore, who had been with SRC for 25 years in a variety of management roles, said she applied a U.S. Small Business Administration-guaranteed loan of $1.4 million to purchase Design Fabrication, 2144 E. Blaine St. The deal, financed through Guaranty Bank, closed Dec. 6.

Devore said the acquisition fulfills a lifelong dream of owning a business.

“I really wanted to stay in manufacturing, but there are not a lot of manufacturing businesses out there for sale right now,” said Devore, who sold her 401(k) and stock options to put down 10 percent on her business loan. “This is still a production shop, and that was really important to me.”

Devore, who’s known for a seven-year stint as general manager of Megavolt, now SRC Electric LLC, purchased the nearly 20-year old company from co-founders Bob Carpenter and Mark Lightfoot through Kingsley Group Business Brokers and agent Gary Rogers.

Design Fabrication, which was on the market for two years, manufactures products such as beams, columns, joists, decking, stairs and rails in support of commercial construction projects.

“We’ve sold to almost all the contractors in Springfield and the surrounding areas, and house-builders use a lot of steel beams,” Carpenter said, noting some clients were as far away as Olathe, Kan., and Phoenix.

Carpenter and Lightfoot had grown the business to nearly $8 million in sales in 2004 and 2005 – when it employed as many as 17 – but contractor orders slowed during the recession, and it now employs 12.

Carpenter said the company’s 2010 revenues exceeded $2 million, and sales were flat compared to 2009. As Devore takes over, she has set a 2011 revenue goal of $2.3 million.

Both Devore and Carpenter said Design Fabrication’s largest competitor in Springfield is Doing Steel Fabrication LLC.

While she focuses on sales and project quotes, Devore named industry veteran Ronald “Rick” East as vice president to handle the technical, fabrication, drawing and delivery sides of the business. East has 40 years of experience in structural steel work and most recently owned Jet Design Detailing Inc., which provided drawings to Design Fabrication.

Kingsley Group broker/partner Rogers said Design Fabrication was a unique business that required someone with a manufacturing background who was comfortable with the area, and Devore was a good fit. He said there had been some interest in the business from outside of Missouri, but financing was a problem.

Before starting Design Fabrication in 1991, Carpenter and Lightfoot worked together for nine years in sales for Springfield-based Tiger Steel Corp., which dissolved in 1992, according to Missouri Secretary of State records.

Carpenter said he plans on working on his farm just east of Springfield, where he has 90 head of cattle. Carpenter’s wife is one of the company’s 12 employees and will stay on staff with Devore.

Lightfoot said he is looking forward to spending more time on his dirt-track racing hobby. He owns two cars and is buying a third that race on 1-mile tracks in Indiana, Ohio and Illinois.[[In-content Ad]]

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