Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:21 pm
When Woody Alverson sold his first Future-50-winning business in 1994, he was sure of one thing – he really needed something to do with his newfound free time. So in the interest of keeping busy and staying gainfully employed, he set to work on his next business venture: Accurate Metal Products. His new company not only gave him something to occupy all that free time he had on his hands, but it put him right back in the fold of up-and-coming successful young companies on the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce list of Future 50 companies last year.
With the formation of the Milwaukee-based manufacturing company in 1995, Alverson and his partner, Jack Kopac, knew from the beginning what it took to run a start-up business.
“Jack was a customer from my first business. He worked for a company similar to what Accurate does now and was looking to go into his own niche,” says Alverson. “After I sold my interest in the original business (Mid-States Blanchard Grinding in Milwaukee) I needed something to do so I hooked up with Jack because we both knew the parameters of setting up a small business like this.”
Even with their nuts-and-bolts know-how of getting the business off the ground, the two understood that building a successful enterprise meant building a reputation, not only with customers but with the vendors who supplied them. Alverson notes that it took two years before their company was able to develop the kind of trust necessary with suppliers that would enable them to give their own customers a good deal.
“We require a lot of raw material and our ability to be competitive is based on the hurdle of establishing suppliers that are willing to give us competitive prices that we can make a profit from. That only happens over time,” explains Alverson.
Alverson also knew that in order to keep customers coming back, attracting the right employees to deliver products and services is essential. To that end, both he and Kopac focused their hiring on people with the experience.
“Our whole business philosophy from the beginning was recognizing that some of the larger steel companies don’t really have the ability to address personnel decisions like we are able to,” states Alverson. “We get out and target only experienced machine operators and, basically, this is our whole pitch to customers: that we are going to have state-of-the-art tools and the top people in the area in our business.”
There’s a cost involved in that practice.
“We pay [our employees] a little bit more than some of the big steel service centers,” Alverson said. “But by paying them a little bit more we are able to attract a higher-quality employee, and it has really paid off in the long run because we have had little or no turnover in six years.”
Two years ago the lease ran out on the downtown Milwaukee building that served as Accurate’s base of operations. Alverson saw that as an opportunity to expand the company. With the help of an Industrial Revenue Bond, Alverson and Kopac made the move to buy their own building after only four years of being in business. The new building, at 8165 W. Tower Ave in Milwaukee, gave them some breathing room, with an expansion from the previous space of 10,000 square feet to 30,000.
“We were in a position to again grow, and the only way we were going to grow the business was to move to a larger facility that would allow us to get more equipment and service our customers better.”
Another sign of the company’s continued growth is the recent opening of its Rockford, Ill., division in January. Alverson and Kopac have been developing that branch of their business for the last year and have already signed on 30 accounts.
April 27, 2001 Small Business Times