Welding for the Wind

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Everyone’s talking about alternative energy, and the many opportunities for metal fabricators in that growing industry.  This article profiles SMF Inc. (Specialty Metal Fabricators in Minonk, Illinois)-–  they were able to add wind components to its lineup fairly easily…   for others its been more difficult.

Local parts makers see potential in wind industry

MINONK — At the new 68-turbine Top Crop I wind farm in LaSalle County, a steel ring about 15 feet in diameter connects each turbine’s giant tower to its concrete foundation. Those rings came from a machine shop just down the road.

That shop, Specialty Metal Fabricators in Minonk, with 170 employees, first entered the wind business five years ago, when it made an emergency ring that saved a foundation at another Central Illinois wind farm under construction.

SMF made contacts in the industry, and today wind is about 5 percent of its business and growing, said Paul Halvorsen, co-owner and chief financial officer. SMF’s rings are used across the U.S. and Canada, and it opened a small facility in Texas to handle orders in the south.
In an industry often at the mercy of big players like Caterpillar — a major SMF customer that was hard-hit by the recession — wind is a welcome addition.

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How has YOUR company diversified to make it through this challenging economy?

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