Made in Milwaukee: Middle West offers range of metal fabrication

Middle West Manufacturing Corp.


N93 W16591 Water St., Menomonee Falls
Industry: Metal fabrication, pipe and tube bending
Employees: 52


Metal fabrication and pipe bending company Middle West Manufacturing Corp. has expanded its Menomonee Falls industrial space eight times since it moved there in 1946.

The company, founded in 1941 as Falls Welding Company, now has nine bays for a total of 60,000 square feet. Founded in 1941 as Falls Welding Company, the name was changed to Middle West in 1950. It now does much more than just welding and employs 52 people.

Kam Soni, president, has overseen this growth since July 2005 and became sole owner in 2010. Middle West offers weldments; machining services; rolling; tube, pipe and structural forming; custom architectural fabricating; brake forming; plate, sheet, bar and shapes; and tank fabrication.

“We take the basic shape of the metal and then we will give it a shape that’s required by the customer,” Soni said.

About 75 percent of the work Middle West does is with different types of steel and 25 percent is with other metals. If a customer wants a degree of bend or other process the company doesn’t have the capability for, it often creates custom tools.

The metal forming process is a precision job, said Jeff Baker, vice president of sales and marketing.

“If you overbend it, it’s difficult to unbend,” he said.

Middle West can bend tubes and pipes of up to six inches in diameter.

“There’s only a few companies in Wisconsin that can do that size,” Soni said.

There is one production shift at the company. Middle West employees work nine hours Monday through Thursday and four hours on Friday. This schedule allows overtime flexibility, Soni said.

The fabricator has made parts for local projects like the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Quadracci Pavilion and displays at Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin. It also makes custom metal structures for artists at companies like Actual Size Artworks in Stoughton.

Middle West also rolls steel plates into burner tanks for use in ethanol production and bends large tubes for trucks at Oshkosh Corp. Using a CNC bender, smaller steel pipes are formed to the shape of a handrail that will be used on treadmills. Heavy steel plates are bent using a brake forming machine for Manitowoc Cranes.

Finished products are often primed and sometimes painted at Middle West. With a 15-ton crane capacity in each bay, the company has a high threshold for large parts.

Soni recently invested in new equipment, a $300,000 high-definition plasma burning table for making plate, sheet, bar and shapes with smooth edges. It was meant to replace the existing CNC burner, but there’s been enough orders coming in to keep both machines running.

“The plasma is faster, it has a cleaner cut and it holds a tighter tolerance,” Baker said.

Middle West’s annual revenue is at about $8 million, Soni said. The company is working to achieve ISO certification, which should help attract more large original equipment manufacturers, he said.

The success of the business this year will rely on customers’ success.

“It all depends on what our customers do,” Soni said. “Prospects look good that if it continues like this, we’ll do OK.”


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