Max Weiss sets the curve in building projects

Max Weiss Co. LLC
8625 W. Bradley Road, Milwaukee
Industry: Large structural bending
Employees: 31

From the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium to the Wisconsin Heart Hospital and from the Indianapolis Zoo’s Dolphin Adventure Gallery to the Cheesecake Factory at Mayfair Mall, Milwaukee-based Max Weiss Company LLC has played a role in numerous major national and local construction projects by providing curved structural steel and formed metal products.

“Our projects are parts of larger projects,” said Dan Weiss, president of the diversified, project-based metalworking company.

Plant manager Jeff Millies stands next to a bundle of structural steel tubing bent by Max Weiss employees.

Originally a small blacksmith shop in Germany, the business was started in 1946 by Max Weiss, the great-grandfather of Dan Weiss.

A piece of square tubing bent at a 90-degree angle that will be used for a snow plow.

The company was previously located in three other locations, all on State Street in Milwaukee. It has been at its fourth and present location, a 44,000-square-foot facility at 8625 W. Bradley Road in Milwaukee, since the early 1980s.

Max Weiss, which employs 31 people, grew 15 percent in 2014 and is slated to post under $10 million in revenue in 2015.

The company usually works on 50 to 100 projects at any given time that, on average, take two weeks to complete.

Due to that quick turnaround, vice president Paul Schulz said the company is always seeking new projects.

It gets some of its work by looking in the market to see which general contractors are assigned to which jobs and then calling them to find out which fabricator they are using. In most cases, however, Weiss said the company gets its projects from established contacts.

Weiss describes Max Weiss as the third tier in a project’s process, after general contractors and fabricators. Max Weiss is hired by the fabricators to bend the material —whether it is steel, stainless steel, aluminum, brass or copper— as most fabricators do not do that.

Max Weiss specializes in large structural products, many of which are 60 foot structural shapes up to 27 inches wide, and which weigh up to three tons per beam.

“Our main business is larger sections like channels, beams and tubes,” Schulz said. “Most metalworking shops you walk into in Milwaukee, Minneapolis or Detroit are dealing with little small pieces, and it’s really quite impressive to see a 60-foot beam that’s two feet wide and weighs three or four tons being bent. It’s one thing to bend something the size of a pencil, but it’s completely different to see a very large steel section being bent.”

The fabricator ships the material to Max Weiss, whose employees then bend it using either a rolling machine or a forming machine.

When using the rolling machine, the material is pulled through three opposing rolls until the desired radius is achieved.

The forming machine, on the other hand, incrementally bends the material as it is pushed through.

Depending on the total size of the project, the curved material can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $6,000.

Max Weiss, which also provides hot forming, machining and welding, serves many industries, including mining and energy, marine, transportation, military, construction and railroad.

“There’s a lot of people doing unique things around here, and we’re able to help with their projects,” Schulz said. “Getting projects done in two weeks, we’re always doing something new. One week is never the same as the next as far as what the (machine) operators are working on.”

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