Tag: Manufacturing and Logistics

Martin Miller Is a Self-Made American Success Story

Martin Miller Is a Self-Made American Success Story

October 19, 2021 –

What started as a one-man business inside a small backyard garage almost 30 years ago has grown into one of Delaware’s leading manufacturers, Miller Metal Fabrication.

Miller’s privately-owned regional metal fabrication company struggled during its first 15 years of operations. Then Martin W. Miller, founder and owner of Miller Metal, decided to embrace change and expand, he began using the latest state-of-the-art technology. Business took off. The company now employs nearly 100 people and offers a full array of manufacturing services for its diversified client base. Despite its size, Miller Metal has a substantive manufacturing presence in the Mid-Atlantic, where it services local, regional, national, and several international clients in a variety of industries.

Miller Metal now holds a unique position in its industry as a full-service metal fabrication company. Unlike most metal fabricators, Miller Metal provides “turn-key” solutions for its customers, as it designs, cuts, bends, welds, assembles, and ships a wide range of metal components. Serving a large and diverse number of customers throughout the United States, the company specializes in highly sophisticated laser cutting, machining, forming, design engineering, welding, and assembly services.

Miller Has Decided It’s Time to Embrace Change Again.

Miller Metal fabrication company in DelawareDuring a ceremony held Monday, October 18, 2021, at his facility, Miller, along with his CFO Mike Elehwany and Delaware Governor John Carney announced the metal fabrication company’s next major expansion. Located in the Newton Business Park, just west of Route 13 on Route 404 in Western Sussex County, Miller Metal plans to build a 60,000-square-foot industrial /office building on 8.5 acres of land adjacent to its current leased facility. The company plans to bring the total number of employees to 117 within three years.

“Miller Metal Fabrication’s decision to expand their operations and build a new facility in Bridgeville is great news for Sussex County and for Delaware,” said Governor John Carney. “This expansion will create new jobs, and it reaffirms that Delaware is the ideal place for businesses to grow.”

Miller Metal Fabrication is investing almost $7 million in its new facility, including acquisition, construction, and fit-out costs. Supporting the company’s plans are grants it has been approved to receive from the Delaware Strategic Fund by the State Council on Development Finance: a Jobs Performance Grant of $57,350 and a Capital Expenditure Grant of $207,900. Miller Metal previously received a Delaware Transportation Infrastructure Investment Fund Grant of $313,000 toward the construction of a new Route 404 entrance to the Newton Business Park, which facilitates future development by other businesses there as well.

Over the Years, the Company Has Experienced a Series of Expansions.

In 1993, Miller left his original backyard shop for a larger space in Harrington. Soon after, Miller Metal teamed up with Delaware-based material handling solutions company, O.A. Newton & Son., to co-exist at Newton’s headquarters site in Bridgeville in Sussex County. In 2014, Miller Metal added a machine shop to its operation, where it has several high-tech milling machines. That same year, the metal fabrication company started a rubber and hose division, the Delmarva Rubber Company, at its Bridgeville location. Delmarva Rubber provides specialty rubber, gasket and hose products to the agriculture, manufacturing, public safety, chemical and food processing industries.

Currently, the company has more than 60 advanced pieces of equipment. It also has one of the largest press brakes on the East Coast.

“Sussex County is excited at the prospect of adding better-paying jobs, thanks to Miller Metal Fabrication’s expansion plans and the approval of these grants,” said Sussex County Council President Michael H. Vincent. “Sussex County has a robust manufacturing sector, one that is thriving with many small and mid-size businesses. This funding will ensure another local company stays hard at work creating products that we can proudly say are made . . . right here in Sussex County.”

Despite its success, Miller Metal stays true to its roots.

Miller Metal has remained a family-owned business with the owner’s three sonsMartin III, Dave and Pauleach retaining management roles within the company. Miller Metal offers competitive wages, full benefit packages that include 401K plan matching and subsidized health insurance. The company also offers on-site and remote technical training to its production workers.

“My employees are the key to our success,” said Miller during the announcement ceremony. “Every one of them views the company as their own, and they take genuine pride in the fact that our success is largely due to their commitment to customer satisfaction.”

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Allied Precision Inc. – The Sum of Its Parts

Allied Precision Inc. – The Sum of Its Parts

Keeping an Eye on Manufacturing Technology and Trends for 25 Years

John Lees never looked far for career inspiration. His father was a machinist, and when young Lees visited his dad’s machine shop, he was awestruck. “I enjoyed what I saw, the smells and the interaction between the folks there,” Lees recalls. “I thought, ‘This is pretty cool.’”

Lees didn’t waiver. Today, he is the owner of Allied Precision Inc. in Middletown, Delaware, which manufactures a wide variety of products, including complex, multipart, custom-engineered fabrications and assemblies.

Lees started Allied Precision in the basement of his home in 1995. Since then, the machining growth has been as steady as the craftsmanship that defines the company. At the same time, Lees stays on top of a rapidly changing sector.

Building a Machining Business in Delaware

Lees grew up in Newark, Delaware, where his father worked for Autotote Systems. At that time, the company made wagering systems primarily used at racetracks.

Delaware was — and is — home to Delaware Park, which offers live racing and now has a casino; Harrington Casino & Raceway; and Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, which features harness racing.

After graduating from Paul M. Hodgson Vocational Technical High School, Lees apprenticed at a high-end shop in New Castle. “That gave me a good base to build on as far as understanding the trade and knowing how to maneuver in it so I could eventually start my own company,” he says.

Being an entrepreneur didn’t daunt him. “I’ve always loved making things and doing what people say couldn’t be done,” Lees says.

He was equally sure about where he wanted to build his machining business. Delaware was not only home. It was also full of friends, family, colleagues — and connections. “I was fortunate to have a small group of mentors and journeymen to guide me through the years,” he says.

He’s found support in other ways, namely the Delaware Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a federally and state-funded non-profit organization committed to helping Delaware’s manufacturers improve their global competitiveness. DEMEP is the official representative of the MEP National Network in Delaware, a public-private partnership.

“They really do a great job at assisting small- and medium-sized manufacturing firms,” Lees says. “We have leaned on them in the past for our ISO certification and specific job training. They’ve been a valuable asset through the years. They allow us to compete in challenging yet rewarding sectors of the industry.”

Improving & Expanding

In the early 2000s, Allied Precision had outgrown its original Newark location. Middletown offered affordable real estate, although the market there was exploding — which continues to be the case. The building can accommodate the growing number of computerized systems that have become part of 21st-century manufacturing.

“We managed to nail a piece of property, put up a 12,000-square-foot building and never looked back,” Lees says.

owner allied precision john leesTo be sure, when Lees started, the machinist was familiar with every stage of a part’s creation. Now the raw product — from steel to copper to composites — enters a computerized machine and exits as a finished part.

These machines must be high-tech. Consequently, the required skills to work in the industry have changed.

“Workers have to know programming — there is a whole laundry list of requirements,” he agrees. After 30 years in the machining business, Lees knows where to find the talent, and he spends time and effort recruiting the right people.

Lees also keeps his finger on the pulse of the trends. When Allied Precision first opened, it was making parts for automobile cruise control systems. “It was fairly high volume,” he recalls. Now the medical and defense sectors are hot, he says. Other clients are in agriculture and the valve and pump industries.

At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Allied Precision was hit with a wave of orders as companies hustled to move from a just-in-time approach to just-in-case. The workflow has since adjusted to pre-COVID demands.

The company currently has 15 employees working over two shifts to meet client demands. The machines run for six to seven days a week. “We are in our fourth location with plans for future expansion,” he says.

For Lees, growth is essential.

“A smart fella once told me: ‘An institution that has no wants has no future,’” he says. “We work hard to satisfy our growing customer base and will continue to grow this company as large as it can be.”

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AWSM Manufactures Supply Chain Solutions and Awesome Jobs in Delaware

AWSM Solutions Manufactures Supply Chain Solutions and Awesome Job Opportunities in Delaware

AWSM Solutions brings jobs in Delaware

With a company name like AWSM – yes, it’s pronounced “awesome” – it’s clear that clever strategy is part of the AWSM Solutions business.

AWSM Solutions, which came to Bear, Delaware, in 2020, is a custom liquid blender and toll processor that is part of The Royale Group, a collection of specialty chemical companies. Toll processing, or contract processing, is basically a nimbler approach for quicker end-to-end product delivery. The supply chain solutions company handles everything from tankers to 55-gallon drums, all the way down to spray bottles. 

“The bulk of what we do is customer-directed toll processing,” said Gene Fatula, director of business development, who leads the company along with John Logue, chief executive officer of The Royale Group. “A company might come along with 50,000 of a liquid product and say, ‘We need you to mix it in your giant blenders, make us a formula and package it with our requirements.’”

Bringing manufacturing back to the United States is an opportunity on the minds of both Logue and Fatula. Toll processing gives their company advantages that offshore manufacturers cannot.

“It’s hard for a lot of our clients to get a quality product delivered quickly and conveniently in the current supply chain,” Logue noted.

Before joining forces, Logue had been a customer of Fatula’s for many years. He realized there was something bigger possible from their working relationship, given the challenges they both saw in the manufacturing supply chain.

“If you study what is happening with logistics and freight, the time lag and price constraints were destroying the American supply chain,” Fatula said. “John and I decided to create a niche that would bring jobs back to Delaware and be part of a needed solution.”

In 2019, AWSM New Jersey, a member of The Royale Group, was named Distributor of the Year through the National Association of Chemical Distributors, an impressive feat within the hundred-billion-dollar industry. Logue invited Fatula into the business venture, adding manufacturing to the Royale portfolio, as AWSM Solutions Delaware.

Ideal Location for AWSM’s Supply Chain Solutions

A number of elements had pointed the company toward Delaware. Logue and Fatula found that Delaware’s business-friendly approach was a big part in their decision to set up a location here, as well as move their corporate headquarters to the First State.

“While we are 100% for regulations, Delaware actually makes doing the right thing easy by having people in places to help simplify the process,” Fatula said. “Great location, great resources and a great, affordable workforce, is why Delaware has always done well with business.”

Although not required at the time of their decision to come to Delaware, Fatula and Logue decided to set a $15 minimum wage for AWSM Solutions. The rate scales quickly from there and provides great opportunity for employees.
To put together the new venture in Bear, AWSM worked with numerous state agencies. Delaware Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) provided guidance with regulatory issues while the Delaware Small Business Administration helped the company with complex funding issues that involved four states. Delaware Prosperity Partnership helped the company through the process of acquiring a grant from the Delaware Strategic Fund for capital improvements to its new Bear location. 
Throughout the last year, AWSM has been busy with products that have increased in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new facility makes a range of cleaning supplies and disinfectants along with pharmaceutical ingredients. 
The Bear facility already employs 15 full-time employees. Logue and Fatula are looking to hire additional workers.

“Our goal is to run two 10-hour shifts each day, five days a week,” Fatula said. “We’d like to add more employees by the end of the year.”

Fatula added that their plans look achievable based on the “very promising” talent pipeline the company already has developed. Right now, the challenge is getting needed equipment fast enough to supply the project – which is progressing positively.

“We have a great team here,” Fatula said. “It’s great to see smiles on faces when you walk in in the morning. Having a successful business and having a positive effect on a community and your employees is what it’s all about.”

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Eastern Highway Specialists Increases Blue-Collar Opportunities in Wilmington

Eastern Highway Specialists Increases Blue-Collar Opportunities in Wilmington

Before Bob Field was hiring and training dozens of employees at Eastern Highway Specialists, his Wilmington-based infrastructure construction company of 18 years, he was working on the Delaware Memorial Bridge late at night, laying concrete – and the foundation of his new business.

“I would be out there till 3 a.m.,” Field said in his office on North Church Street, where EHS has operated since 2003. “I’d come home, go to sleep and wake up three hours later. When you start a business, you have to just be there and pay attention to everything, no matter what.”

EHS has come a long way from the small garage out of which Bob and his wife, Clair Field, founded their general contracting business. From developing pedestrian walkways and rehabilitating historic bridges to replacing bridge bearings on major highways like I-95, the firm has left its professional mark on how people travel throughout the Mid-Atlantic.

Bringing Blue-Collar Opportunities to Wilmington

Four years ago, Eastern Highway Specialists was at a crossroads.

Operating out of a 7,000 square-foot building on one acre of land, the heavy civil contractor needed to expand in order to hire more workers and buy equipment in bulk. Bob had added shop space over the years as his company increased from two employees to a 50-person workforce, but EHS had outgrown the North Church Street location. In 2017, it came time for EHS to start looking for new headquarters.

“The key is our growth in Wilmington,” Clair said. “There were places in other states that were close enough to consider, but with the emphasis on economic growth in the city, we really wanted to stay here.”

For the husband-and-wife team, Wilmington is home. They were both born at St. Francis Hospital about a year apart and had raised their eight children in the city.

Plus, Wilmington lies at the center of their bridge and highway projects, placing EHS within a 60-mile radius of highway construction sites throughout Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

EHS is a family business, with Bob serving as the company president and Clair as majority financial owner. Four of their children are also involved. They actively seek to increase the company’s diversity, with a third of EHS’s workforce comprising people of color.

So when Clair and Bob found property where they could build and develop a nearly 20,000-square-foot shop on five acres in Riverside, they jumped at the opportunity. The company’s $4 million investment on Downing Drive is nearly tripling their current space and adding four acres. Two grants approved by the state Council on Development Finance earlier this year are helping EHS bring 17 new positions to Riverside and improving existing infrastructure.

“These grants help offset some of the higher costs of developing land in former industrial cities such as Wilmington,” said safety and training manager Nathan Field. “It takes longer to return these areas to productive use today, and there are special associated costs.”

The cul de sac the company is adding to Downing Drive could potentially draw other businesses to the area.

“The grants will also help us upgrade Downing Drive, and it’s going to improve the desirability of doing business on this stretch for many other companies, too,” Nathan said.

Laying a Local Foundation

The new property not only benefits EHS as a company but also its workers, the surrounding Riverside community and future businesses.

Bob and Clair are invested in their workforce. They don’t want to hire people who leave after a few months. Every year, they sit down with employees to talk about next steps, so that their current positions can blossom into specialized careers.

“We are highly involved in developing a local workforce,” said Nathan, who is one of Clair and Bob’s sons.

As a participant in the Workplace Health and Safety Incentive Program for more than a decade, EHS is also committed to training employees on new skills and safety protocol. Since 2008, EHS has been continuously involved in the State of Delaware apprenticeship program as a sponsor. Nine of the company’s current employees graduated from the program, and four EHS foremen are apprentice graduates.

“We have to work from within,” Bob said. “As one example, we have someone who’s been with us for 10 years. He went through the apprenticeship program, and he’s now a certified welder.”

new blue-collar jobs with eastern highway specialistsThat means keeping blue-collar opportunities within walking distance, which is another reason EHS is staying in Wilmington’s East Side.

“People are choosing to invest here,” Nathan said, pointing to nearby REACH Riverside, a nonprofit that is improving the neighborhood through new housing projects.

By moving the construction company to the Riverside neighborhood, residents who don’t have cars will still have the opportunity to work for EHS.

“When there were factories, everybody was walking to work,” Nathan said of Wilmington’s industrial period. “When you’re rebuilding and creating new jobs in these areas, it’s a benefit to have companies that people can walk to.”

By redeveloping the Downing Drive site, the Field family is positioning EHS to be part of Wilmington’s growth and revitalization.

“We want to be part of the rise in the city,” Clair said.

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Rob Rider Leads O.A. Newton to Record Growth

Rob Rider Leads O.A. Newton to Record Growth

1 October, 2021  LiveLoveDelaware.com

O.A. Newton CEO Rob Rider

For a business that has constantly reinvented itself over its 104 years in business, O.A. Newton & Son CEO Rob Rider doesn’t even pause when asked about his company’s elevator speech.

“We’re in two businesses – irrigation and farm and ranch products for a local customer base (Delmarva) and engineered material-handling systems on a national and international level,” says the fourth-generation leader (his grandfather Warren Newton was the “& Sons”).

Where many other Delaware businesses have struggled to survive during the pandemic, Rider says his company has been challenged to keep up as its building-product clients experience record sales and look to expand. For Rider, COVID 19 has been a business accelerant that has helped him grow revenues and move from 30 employees to nearly 40.

“Because we’re involved in both manufacturing and agriculture, we have been considered essential from the start, so we never laid anyone off,” he says. “At the beginning, we were getting ready to start a pretty large [composite decking] project and [the client] wouldn’t let us on site for a month. But that turned out to be a blessing because we were a bit behind schedule, and it allowed us to catch up and get the project back on schedule.”

Big box stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s saw a jump in business as homebound Delawareans decided to start or move forward with projects. As a result, demand for PVC pipe and fencing, vinyl siding, and wood composite decking stayed very strong.

At the same time, O.A. Newton continued to expand a longtime relationship with Miller Metal Fabrication, which leases space from Rider’s company.

“We decided 14 years ago that we didn’t need our employees doing the sheet metal fabrication for our products,” Rider says. “Miller Metal has developed a lot of advanced manufacturing to make our products better at a lower cost.”

For example, a few years ago, O.A. Newton identified a bottleneck in its production process involving a “spray and bake” painting process called powder coating that Miller Metal has been able to resolve. But Rider says client demand for the service has led them to offer the service to others from Harrington as an additional business.

“It’s not innovative and it’s not a new product,” Rider says. “You need to pay attention to what customers are asking for and then meeting the demand. It might only involve six or eight customers but there’s huge volume and we’ll be able to meet the demand together. You have to be ready to adapt.”

That discussion swung around to a question about O.A. Newton’s legacy after more than a century in Sussex County. The company got its start developing a feed for chickens that led to greater egg production, which led to feed-milling and chicken-breeding businesses. Beyond that, there is a dizzying list of businesses that Rob’s father Bob and then Rob himself started in response to customer needs and opportunities that they saw.

The commitment to innovation and being nimble led O.A. Newton to begin building conveyor belts to move the feed they milled in the 1950s. That led to the creation of conveying systems for companies that make plastic pipe and siding and decking and then to offering replacement parts and service when the recession slowed new construction. The company sold the poultry business was sold in 1969, and a parts counter became the O.A. Newton Farm and Ranch Store, essentially a specialty hardware store that recognized the changing demographics in Sussex and Kent counties from fewer large farms to more farmettes and hobby farms.

“As you can imagine, with our market being building products, the recession decimated our customers,” Rider says. “We had to really retrench and rebuild our business. When the housing bubble burst, it forced out a lot of inefficient manufacturing and we’ve seen steady growth since.”

The desire to stay nimble has led O.A. Newton to form partnerships with companies that have what they need, need what they have, or offer the scale to help them sell their products.

Rob Rider Remains an Unbashed Delaware Supporter

Since the start of the pandemic, the company has grown from 30 to nearly 40. Through it all, Rider has remained an unabashed Delaware supporter.

“Delaware has always been an easy place to do business,” he says. “Labor is easy to deal with and it’s easy to get answers. I can’t say that it’s always wonderful from a regulatory standpoint – that’s one of the things we need to work on — but it’s better than most. We’d never consider moving because of the experience we’ve had here.”

O.A. Newton recently shut down branch locations that served retail customers in New Jersey and New York for about 10 years because the “headache of doing business in those states wasn’t worth it. They weren’t terrible experiences, but in both cases, we just decided it wasn’t the right fit for us.”

Rider says he talks to people all the time who are considering renting space in his buildings or buying real estate to build themselves.

“I tell them we have a great workforce and the process to get located here from beginning to end is as easy and convenient as you’re going to get,” he says, adding that he completely supports the efforts of Bob Perkins and the Delaware Business Roundtable’s Ready in Six initiative to accelerate the permitting process.

Before ending the interview, Rider elaborated on his answer about the company’s legacy.

“I would hope that people are saying we’re keeping up with the times and exceeding their expectations, maintaining our relevance in today’s world,” says Rider. “Legacy to me really means reputation and one of the things that is more important than anything is being fair to our customers, our employees, and our community – pretty much in that order.”

“If we are not equally caring for all three of those stakeholders, then we’re not going to continue to exist. When we make decisions, we think about the impact tomorrow and 10 years from now.”

This article was originally posted on LiveLoveDelaware.com at: https://www.livelovedelaware.com/rob-rider-leads-o-a-newton-to-record-growth/

Kurt Foreman


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No State Builds Pathways from High School to Jobs as well as Delaware Does: Opinion

Option: 1

No State Builds Pathways from High School to Jobs as well as Delaware Does: Opinion

7 NOVEMBER, 2019

How can it be that with the lowest unemployment rate in anyone’s memory, the U.S. still has 6.9 jobs seeking workers and 6.3 workers seeking jobs?

There is no single answer, but a big part of the problem is the skills gap – not enough workers with the right skills, especially to fill middle-skill jobs in such fields as health care, IT, and advanced manufacturing.

Many states are building pipeline programs to address this gap, programs that begin in high school, connect to post secondary institutions, and work with employers to ensure that students have the right skills to fill in-demand jobs that can get them launched on fulfilling careers.

No state does this as well as Delaware.

Over these past six years, Delaware has, from a standing start, created a statewide career pathways system that has become a model for the nation. Delaware has grown from 27 students enrolled in an advanced manufacturing program in 2014 to 16,000 students across the state currently enrolled in 25 career pathways in 12 high-growth, high-demand sectors of the state’s economy.

The state is on track to meet its goal of enrolling 20,000 students — half the high school population — in career pathways by 2020.

Delaware’s story is the lead chapter in a new book just published by Harvard Education Press, “Career Pathways in Action: Case Studies from the Field,” written by Nancy Hoffman and myself. This book, and the case study of Delaware Pathways, will be featured in a session at the upcoming annual Vision Coalition Conference Tuesday, Nov. 12 at the University of Delaware.

In a few short years, Delaware Pathways has transformed the education landscape. Career pathways match students’ interests with tailored instruction and relevant work-based learning experiences, and award industry-recognized credentials and college credits while students are still in high school.

These pathways provide on and off ramps for the full spectrum of options. A young person on a health care pathway could use it to decide: a) to become a certified nursing assistant so she can start earning some money while she weighs her options; b) to start working toward becoming a medical doctor; or c) that it isn’t the right field.

The goal is to give program participants enough early exposure to the world of work and careers to make informed decisions about what comes next after high school.

How has Delaware been able to build such a robust career pathways system in such a short time? The secret is partnership.

The collaboration among statewide entities like the departments of Education and Labor, Delaware Technical Community College, the United Way, Rodel and a network of private employers large and small led to the development of a compelling strategic plan specifying the roles and responsibilities of each partner.

This cross-agency structure is unusually strong, and a dedicated core team from the partner organizations has stuck together to implement that plan.

Delaware Pathways is not without its challenges, including the provision of meaningful work-based learning opportunities for all participants and the development of a long-range funding plan.

But with Gov. John Carney leading the effort to bring more employers to the table, the first challenge is being addressed, and given the broad-based political support for the program, I’m confident the funding challenge will be addressed as well.

Delaware, you are currently building what many believe is the most scalable and replicable career pathways model in the nation.

Keep pushing.

The leaders of the other 15 state and regional members of the Pathways Network are all pulling for you because what you build here could not only help your young people, but benefit their peers in states across the United States.

— Robert Schwartz is a professor emeritus of practice in educational policy and administration at Harvard Graduate School of Education and co-founder of the Pathways to Prosperity Network.

Kurt Foreman


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