Weldall Manufacturing Inc., a Waukesha-based metal fabrication job shop, is the Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce 2008 Small Business of the Year.
Weldall was founded by David L. Bahl in 1973, when he worked out of a rented room smaller than the size of his office today. Weldall has grown to become a one-stop shop in metal fabrication, providing welding, assembly, component production and machining out of a 144,000-square-foot building in downtown Waukesha.
The company grew 24 percent in revenue in 2007, which Bahl credits to the healthy metal fabrication market.
“Customer demand is high,” Bahl said. “There’s a lot of work out there right now for metal fabrication. You hear about trouble in financial and housing markets, but metal fabrication is really booming.”
Bahl expects another 25-percent growth in the company’s revenue for 2008.
Bahl says his philosophy for success is simple: hire the right people.
“Employ the best people possible, run efficiently, make the least amount of mistakes,” he said. “We do a very good job at that. We have an overall good crew.”
To increase efficiency, Weldall uses employee incentives, including an attendance bonus. Each employee receives three hours of additional time off for every month they have a perfect attendance record.
“Which adds up,” Bahl said. “A perfect year equals almost a week in extra vacation time.”
About three quarters of Weldall employees take advantage of the attendance bonus, according to Bahl.
About 30 percent of Weldall’s employees are Hmong, and 8 percent are Hispanic.
Weldall recently became partners with the Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC) to teach English language learning courses to ensure safety and increase communication among its employees, Bahl said.
The company has accepted a three-year learning grant from the state and WCTC, beginning this summer.
“We’re going to work to train them a little better in the English language, for both communication and safety,” Bahl said.
The teaching will be Weldall-specific, relating to company policies, procedures, safety documents and insurance information, said Bahl.
In the mid-1990s Weldall expanded its services to provide machining, allowing the company to handle most of its clients’ projects from start to finish, instead of forcing customers to use multiple sources. In-house machining gives the product a more uniform quality, lowers prices and enables Weldall to provide a more consistent on-time delivery, according to Bahl.
“The customer today likes to cut a purchase order completely in-house, so they don’t have to cut a number of purchase orders to get the finished product,” Bahl said.
Since implementing machining services, the company has expanded its capabilities to include three full-service machining centers.
Weldall works to promote from within the company by posting job openings and encouraging existing employees to apply, Bahl said.
“Just about everybody in our programming area, inspection department and a number of our foremen were promoted from within,” he said.
About 80 percent of the company’s business is done in Wisconsin. With such a strong presence in the state, Weldall is committed to serving the community. Weldall is actively involved in charity work, including the Waukesha Food Pantry, Waukesha Youth Football, the WCTC Foundation, Junior Achievement of Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Public Museum, the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association.
Weldall Manufacturing Inc.
Address: 2001 S. Prairie Ave., Waukesha
Industry: Metal fabrication
Revenues: 24-percent growth in 2007