Last year was a great year for Marlin Steel Wire Products. In 2014, Marlin Steel added many new pieces of factory automation, and new personnel to run them, all while having the most successful production year since the late 90s. To keep up with the demand, both from U.S. companies and from foreign clients, Marlin Steel recently signed a deal to add 50% more floor space to the factory to make room for even more personnel and equipment.
In fact, Marlin Steel’s plans for an expansion were featured a recent article by The Baltimore Sun, wherein company owner Drew Greenblatt was interviewed regarding the company’s expansion plans. Throughout the interview, Baltimore Sun reporter Arthur Hirsch and Marlin’s company president discussed numerous topics beyond the upcoming expansion.
A Growing Factory for a Growing Business
The upcoming floor space expansion isn’t the first for the company. Back in 2011, the south wall of the factory was broken down to create a 12,000 sq. ft. expansion for the factory, increasing the available floor space to 28,000 sq. ft. in total.
With this new expansion, the total available floor space in the factory will increase to 43,000 sq. ft., an increase of more than 50%.
Why the expansion?
Part of the reason is to, as was stated above, meet the needs of both foreign and domestic clients. Adding more space allows for the addition of more production capacity to serve the 400 to 500 active accounts that Marlin Steel maintains.
The other part of the reason why Marlin Steel is expanding its floor space is that there were already plans in place to increase the power supply going to the factory by a factor of seven or eight times the current supply, an improvement which would cost roughly $27,000 by itself.
This increase in power supply was, in itself, a response to the need for additional power generation at the Marlin Steel factory. With the addition of so many new machines to the factory floor, the old power supply was proving woefully insufficient to the task of keeping all of the machinery running at peak efficiency. In fact, to cover short-term power needs last year, Marlin Steel had to add generators to the building to keep the equipment running.
After the $500,000 expansion is complete, Marlin expects to add nearly 15 more employees to run the equipment that will be installed in the new expansion area, brining Marlin’s total payroll roster to 45 workers. In other words, this expansion, which has been funded by a loan from the Baltimore Development Corp., will help to drive job growth in Baltimore.
Growth as a Sign of Recovery
In the interview, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was highly positive regarding the planned expansion, stating that “I think it’s a strong sign that Baltimore is growing” and that “We’re hopeful that more production, more manufacturing jobs will come to Baltimore.” This is a sentiment that is supported by reports of increased optimism among small business owners regarding the country’s economic outlook as a whole.
This is some of the best news that the manufacturing sector in Maryland has seen in decades, as the number of manufacturing industry jobs in the state had been cut nearly in half from what they once were in 1990.
Finding Ways to Grow American Manufacturing in the Era of Outsourced Production
Part of the reason for the decline in manufacturing jobs, not just in Baltimore but throughout the U.S was the competition from overseas manufacturers who employed ultra-cheap labor to undercut American manufacturers on price.
For a time, Marlin Steel was threatened with extinction because of foreign manufacturers who could sell commodity baskets for less than the purchase cost of the steel needed to make them in the U.S. However, by switching from a focus on commodity baskets to precision-manufactured custom steel baskets for high-end applications that have tight tolerances, Marlin Steel was able to not only survive, but thrive in a new market.
Using factory automation, one employee or a small team can produce baskets far faster than competitors who rely on manual labor while meeting tighter tolerance requirements. These employees are well compensated for their time and expertise as well, unlike the cheap laborers used by commodity class competitors.
The end result is quality, engineered quick for all of Marlin’s customers, many of whom are, ironically enough, located in regions such as Singapore and China which once took jobs away from Americans.
If other manufacturers are able to find ways to grow business in the face of foreign competition, then Baltimore and the rest of the U.S., may be able to continue adding new jobs that pay a living wage to support American families.
Learn more about how Marlin Steel gets things done today and join the new American manufacturing renaissance!