A Springfield steel fabricator broke ground last month on a $5 million facility that is expected next year to quadruple its current footprint.
The Sept. 15 groundbreaking for Sho-Me Fabrication LLC was held at 1930 N. Alliance Ave. in Partnership Industrial Center West. City of Springfield and Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce officials joined company leaders at the event, which kicked off plans for the 20,000-square-foot facility. Sho-Me Fabrication Director of Business Operations Mary Jackson said Rich Kramer Construction Inc. is general contractor for the project, designed by Verona-based R.E. Werner Architect LLC.
“We’re excited we’re able to see this kind of growth and be in a position to move forward with this development,” she said.
Jackson, who began work with Sho-Me Fabrication in 2021, said owner and President Dustin Watson has grown the company since its late 2016 launch to 35 employees. The business builds products including stainless steel tanks, ovens and conveyors for clients mostly in the dairy, environmental, food and beverage, and pharmaceutical industries.
“It was a solo thing at first,” she said, noting Watson, who also is her nephew, started the venture by doing fabrication jobs as a subcontractor for other companies out of state.
As a Springfield resident, Watson desired to put down roots and open his own facility – a plan he was able to execute by 2019, when he signed a lease agreement for undisclosed terms with Robert Demore for a 5,000-square-foot building at 1409 N. West Bypass. Previously, he also partnered with Dakota Brede and Justin Peck to begin growing the business, Jackson said. Brede is director of maintenance, while Peck is the director of sales and marketing.
“Two years ago is when we started scaling up the workforce,” Jackson said, noting the company has experienced considerable growth in employees and revenue over the past couple of years. “That’s what has taken us to this new building.”
She said 2023 revenue is projected to be on par with last year at $6 million, adding revenue could reach $10 million within the first full year in the new facility based on customer demand. The company expects to add 20-30 new jobs with the expansion. Excavation work is expected to start by the end of the month with plans for the project to conclude by June 2024.
“We can only put so much volume of work through here due to space constraints,” she said. “With space constraints also comes staffing constraints. We were and are experiencing both of those things to fulfill requests that some of our customers have.”
Describing the fabricator as a company similar in focus “just on a much smaller scale” to another Springfield-based stainless steel manufacturer, Paul Mueller Co. (OTC: MUEL), Jackson said Sho-Me Fabrication primarily does work outside the Springfield area. Its clients include Proctor & Gamble Co. (NYSE: PG), Firefly Aerospace, Gorilla Glue Co., Cosmos Corp. and Nestle USA.
Paul Mueller Co. also has experienced growth this year. The company’s net income in the second quarter of this year was $4.8 million, up from a loss of $149,000 in the same quarter a year earlier, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting. Net sales during the latest quarter rose 30% to roughly $60 million from $46 million in second-quarter 2022.
Part of the space constraints have forced Sho-Me Fabrication to assemble tanks outside its West Bypass facility, Jackson said.
“To meet the needs of the customer base we were getting, we had to start building tanks outside just like we were in the field,” she said, adding weather also must be taken into consideration. “It presents challenges sometimes.”
The new building will provide two fabrication bays. One of those will have two 20-ton cranes to move larger tanks, while the other will have a pair of 10-ton cranes. Additionally, 25 welding stations that the company doesn’t currently have are part of the plans.
“It will improve our efficiencies as well as improve the safety for our employees,” Jackson said. “We anticipate improving our efficiencies by about 20%.”
The roughly 8.2 acres for the building were identified with the assistance of the Springfield Business Development Corp., the economic development arm of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. Tiffany Batdorf, the chamber’s vice president of communications and community relations, said the SBDC worked with Sho-Me Fabrication for around a year to select PIC West. The company will be across the street from Tank Components Industries and catty-corner to Vital Farms Inc., Jackson said, adding no financial incentives were provided for the move to PIC West.
“The Partnership Industrial West became that viable option for them as far as the business site plan,” Batdorf said. “SBDC helped them navigate and facilitate conversations. They identified the primary benefit of (PIC West) because of the collective management of City Utilities, city of Springfield and Greene County. That kind of helped streamline the discussions and get over any of those hurdles that might pop up for the business.”
Chamber officials say the $5 million project and additional jobs will create an estimated $11.5 million in local economic impact.
Batdorf said Sho-Me Fabrication is among 35 active projects on the SBDC radar. However, as most of those are national searches, she said only roughly 12 of them are considered reasonable or strong prospects that may come to fruition somewhere among the organization’s 10-county region within its purview. She declined to disclose any additional details about the projects.
Aside from being near its current location, Jackson said the PIC West site has great access to Interstate 44, which will allow transport trucks to easily come pick up tanks. Batdorf said eight properties totaling 110 acres remain available in PIC West, which includes a 51-acre state-certified site.
To allow for hiring additional employees, the company recently added a second shift. The schedule is four 10-hour days with Friday used as an overtime day.
After roughly 18 months of planning, Jackson said the company is ready to take the next step in its growth.
“That speaks highly to the dedicated team we have, the leadership we have and, of course, the customers who have entrusted us with their projects,” she said.
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