5139 N. 124th St., Butler
Industry: metal finishing
Glass beads, steel shot and corn cobs are among the media used to polish metal parts at EFCO Finishing in Butler.
The company offers blasting, polishing, deburring and other metal finishing processes for area metal parts manufacturers.
EFCO aims to be a one-stop shop for its customers, said Terry Schultz, president and co-owner.
“When people call us, we try to figure out a way to say, ‘yes,'” Schultz said.
The three most common processes the company performs are vibratory finishing, ball burnishing and blasting, he said.
Vibratory finishing involves putting parts into the donut-shaped bowl of a machine that sits on springs. A motor vibrates the whole bowl, and the media and chemicals inside rub against the part to finish it.
Depending on the desired finish for the part, it could be shaken together with ceramic stones for smoothness or glass shards for a rougher texture.
Ball burnishing is a process that economically adds a bright finish to metal without the labor of hand polishing through vibration with steel media, Schultz said.
Blasting involves shooting a variety of media at the part at high speed.
“We’ve got everything from individual blast cabinets to more of an automated process,” he said. “Every project is just a little bit different and we try to have everything set up and ready to go.”
EFCO has almost half a block of connected buildings in Butler, all filled with machinery.
The average turnaround time for an order is two to three days, Schultz said. That means EFCO must have a lot of different machines on hand, like bowls that range from one cubic foot to 60 cubic feet.
One type of machine, called a wheelabrator, dry tumble blasts tough, heavy parts with steel grit on an automated conveyor belt.
The company recently added a vapor degreasing machine, which removes the grease from parts with water vapor.
“When the parts are dropped below the coils, a condensation is formed,” Schultz said.
In addition to degreasing, finished parts are also sometimes dried.
One method of drying parts is by putting them through a vibratory machine with corn cobs.
“If the parts are flat, they tend to stick together” which can lead to corrosion, Schultz said.
Schultz is the third generation of ownership at EFCO, which was founded in 1945 as Eldon Finishing. Originally, the company sold the equipment used for metal finishing.
These days, EFCO sells very little equipment and instead completes finishing on site, he said.
“We would rather do the work for our customers as opposed to selling them a machine,” Schultz said. “Our niche is really doing the work for people.”
Schultz joined the company in 1998 as his father was transitioning out and has been president since 2005.
He has recently rebranded EFCO to update its look and online presence. In addition, Schultz has changed the company’s chemical disposal methods and earned EFCO Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District honors since 2002.
But he’s also worked to keep old connections.
“Our top customer today is the first customer we ever had as a business,” Schultz said.
Molly Newman covers manufacturing for BizTimes Milwaukee. Send news to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at (414) 336-7144