Iraq War veteran Jason Young has a military mindset when it comes to projects in the shop, a philosophy he’s now applying to 3Up Metal Works, a Milwaukee-based custom metal fabrication company he recently purchased on the city’s north side.
Formerly known as SSO, LLC, Young renamed the fabrication and metals shop to reflect his work ethic and company culture. The name references Young’s rank in the Marine Corps while the logo contains three chevrons, a military insignia designating the rank of sergeant.
The metal fabricator’s product range covers structural steel building components, conveyor systems, catwalks, mezzanines, stairways and more for a variety of industries, including food and beverage, construction, manufacturing and agriculture.
Before purchasing 3Up Metal Works, Young was president of Price Erecting Co., a heavy machine mover and installer based in Milwaukee. Now he’s melding his career experience and military background to set 3Up Metal Works apart from competitors.
3Up Metal Works bills itself as a “true design-build custom fabrication shop,” meaning the company can meet virtually any metal fabrication need of its clients ranging from large fabricated parts to small custom precision pieces, Young said.
Rather than mass producing a product, the company is fabricating between five and 10 components, many of which are custom designed and manufactured.
“We’re not a production shop,” Young said. “This is truly taking someone’s ideas from scratch paper all the way through to a finished product.”
One way Young brings his military background to the metal fabrication space is with attention to detail and what he calls the 80-20 approach – 80% planning and 20% execution. By connecting with customers upfront, 3Up Metal Works can understand functional elements of the product and, just as importantly, how users interact with that product.
In a recent project, 3Up Metal Works reverse-engineered a large cheese grinder for a major food manufacturer in southeastern Wisconsin. Rather than replicate the exact cheese grinder, Young and his team worked with the manufacturer to tweak design elements, which made for a more durable and efficient machine.
“With a cheese grinder, we’re hucking 50-pound bricks of cheese, so it has to have a lot of torque and be able to withstand a lot of pressure on the metal so we’re using a thicker gauge,” Young said.
Education is also an important piece of 3Up Metal Works’ customer acquisition strategy, Young said, adding that customers need information like how commodity prices are changing, lead times and general project timelines, he said.
“Because of being military, there’s always a rank and structure to the process and of everything that goes in place, which is what we bring to the table in our discovery meetings,” Young said.
Within the first seven months of owning the business, 3Up made two hires, secured new customers and doubled its revenue, Young said. He attributes the company’s success to the trusted relationships 3Up has built with customers who understand the value and niche skill set of his custom metal fabrication team.
“We’re not looking to get as many customers as possible,” Young said. “I’m looking to find and retain good customers who understand what we do is unique and the dollar value associated with that uniqueness.”