Monday, September 29, 2008
The Dayton Business Journal’s Tom Demeropolis writes:
Andy Blanchard likes to think of himself as a patriot. As president and chief executive officer of RevWires LLC, he said America is still a good place to be a manufacturer.
Blanchard has put his money where his mouth is, building a $5 million-plus facility at 2015 W. Stanfield Road in Troy, and has raised more than $14 million in capital for the start-up, cored welding wire manufacturer, which was formed in April.
The money was raised from private investors, including Blanchard, and a holding company that invests in businesses that fit into its investment portfolio.
If everything goes according to plan, RevWires will have sales of $14 million in 2009 and increase to $40 million by 2013. It also will create as many as 50 high-paying jobs in the next three years.
“We’re going against the grain. I believe in the United States as a place for manufacturers, and I’m going to prove my point in Troy, Ohio,” Blanchard said.
He has two part-time employees working for him, and is scheduled to start the hiring process in October. This first wave of employees will start work immediately, helping to get the production facility up and running. Blanchard plans on initially hiring about a half dozen people, including a skilled technician, an executive and a few workers.
The jobs will be high-paying — with a base pay between $26 and $29 per hour, plus benefits for factory workers — something Troy city officials are looking forward to.
Jim Dando, director of development for the city of Troy, said RevWires potential job creation fits in with the area’s skill set.
“These will be jobs in manufacturing, and we have good, solid skills in the community, especially in metalworking,” Dando said. “It uses the skills we have in our workforce.”
Dando and the city are so confident in Blanchard’s start-up that they are working to give the company a $100,000 loan to help pay for machinery. The Ohio Department of Development is giving a $500,000 loan.
Blanchard is the former president and CEO of Florence, S.C.-based ESAB North America, part of ESAB Group Inc., which is the world’s largest maker of welding and cutting equipment and material. ESAB operates 26 manufacturing plants on four continents and has nearly 8,000 employees.
With more than 12 years of experience in the welding industry, Blanchard saw a need for the new product RevWires has developed.
“I know the industry is ripe for the type of product we are offering,” he said.
That product is a type of cored wire that is completely uniform, something that is essential in critical welds made by ship builders and other fabricators.
Cored welding wire is used to create the weld between two pieces of metal. Unlike a regular piece of wire, cored wire has a mixture of metal powders and other elements inside which protect the weld and make it stronger.
But, Blanchard said cored wires on the market today can have inconsistencies in the mixture of those metal powders and the weight of metal powder in each section of the wire can vary, potentially causing a weak weld. Blanchard said every inch of his wires will be consistent.
Dando said RevWires will help the Troy area, but the company will sell its product to customers worldwide. Blanchard said his customers will be “elitist fabricators, doing critical welds.”
RevWires customers would be companies building in the energy industry, including nuclear facilities, petroleum plants and oil pipelines, as well as transportation, construction, ship building and heavy machinery companies, such as John Deere and Caterpillar Inc.
Bruns General Contracting Inc. is building RevWires’ 80,000-square-foot facility. Mike Caughell, senior vice president and general manager with Tipp City-based Bruns, said the building was designed to double in size, projecting future growth.
The building also is climate and humidity controlled, which is important because of the nature of manufacturing the cored welding wire. Blanchard said an environmentally controlled building is essential.
RevWires is scheduled to move into the building by December and Blanchard plans on shipping his product at the start of 2009.
“It takes a leap of faith, leadership skills and equity to lead this start-up,” he said. “If it works, then it’s the American dream.”