Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:36 pm
Burlington-based Hans Pedersen Group LLC recently purchased two pieces of new equipment and is planning to add two additional employees to enable the company to keep up with rising sales. Hans Pedersen Group makes stainless steel tanks, pressure vessels, skid-mounted filtration systems and other custom fabrications. Many of its parts are used in food and drug production, in which stainless steel has become the material of choice because of sanitary concerns.
In late December, the company added a water jet-cutting machine, which has already helped the company capture customers it wasn’t able to work with before, said Jeff Stevens, president and chief executive officer.
"It can cut up to a six-inch thick piece of stainless steel, and it’s a clean cut," Stevens said.
The water jet cutter works by shooting high pressure water and fine sand at the material it is cutting. It works faster and more efficiently than conventional cutting techniques such as plasma or laser cutters, Stevens said, eliminating the need for later grinding and polishing, because the cut is so clean.
The cutter can process a greater range of materials than plasma or laser cutters, including plastics, wood and stone. The only materials it can’t handle are magnesium and tempered glass, Stevens said.
The new machine has brought in new business and reduced the amount of work Hans Pedersen Group sends to other shops.
"We can deliver (our products) quicker and with less re-work," Stevens said. "And the water jet lets us go directly to the retail market if we wanted to, if someone wanted custom marble countertops or something like that."
Hans Pedersen Group also purchased a new CNC press brake in late 2005, adding to the automation in its manufacturing facility.
The firm occupies about 15,000 square feet in Burlington’s new industrial park on Highway 83. The company has 13 employees now and is looking for two more – one welder and another to do polishing.
Hans Pedersen Group had about $2.5 million in sales for 2005, and is planning for about $3 million in sales and two more employees this year, said Bob Lee Jr., chief financial officer.
"Controlled growth is the key," he said. "It’s a fine line."
Although Hans Pedersen currently does a fair share of its work for the food and drug industries, it has worked to build a diverse base of customers in recent years, Lee said. The company makes storage tanks, piping, pumps, filtration skids and related equipment for manufacturers and producers that handle liquids. The firm also takes on contract work for other fabricators that are using stainless steel parts or pieces, Lee said.
Last summer, Lee and Stevens brought in Mike Burns, vice president of operations, as their third partner in the company. Two weeks ago, Burns put the finishing touches on a new contract with Adolf Kiefer & Associates, a Zion, Ill.-based maker of equipment for swimming pools.
Hans Pedersen Group will make a floating frame to be used for water polo goals, Burns said. The first-time order is for 100 frames, but Kiefer officials have indicated that the contract could grow to 250 frames per year.
"It’s another step in our expanding customer base," Burns said. "I’ve been in this business a long time. Being aggressive is the only way to stay alive."
The company’s products could easily be adapted for use in the ethanol industry, which some are predicting will grow in Wisconsin, so Hans Pedersen Group recently joined the Wisconsin Ethanol Producer’s Association, with the hopes of landing future contracts if ethanol production expands in the state.
The company is also looking at one of its products, the DELTX heat exchanger, as a way to capitalize on an energy-conscious public. Paired with solar-powered photovoltaic panels and batteries, Stevens said, the heat exchanger can be a highly efficient way to capture solar energy to heat water or other fluids.
"Energy, conservation and finding alternative sources will become a driving force for manufacturers," Stevens said. "And it has an application in home heating. It’s unbelievable."
Hans Pedersen Group LLC
701 Black Hawk Drive, Burlington
Stainless steel tanks, pressure vessels, filtration systems and other custom fabrications
$2.5 million in 2005, projected $3 million for 2006