DeWys Manufacturing is involved in all aspects of its custom metal fabrication projects, from beginning to end.
By Jim Harris
DeWys Manufacturing’s customers need not look to other companies to meet their metal fabrication needs. The Marne, Mich.-based company prides itself on being a “one-stop shop” for metal components used in a variety of sectors.
“We make it easy for our customers to write just one purchase order and have one invoice for the components we manufacture for them,” President C.T. Martin says. “If you want a custom metal component, we can take care of all aspects of that for you.”
The company’s diversified services – which it refers to as its “circle of companies,” includes precision sheet metal, machining, powder coating, contract manufacturing and product assembly. DeWys also offers engineering expertise. “We can help our customers engineer costs out of a product and make it more manufacturable,” he adds. “There are not many fabrication companies offering engineering in-house.”
Founded in 1977, the company initially concentrated solely on the office furniture market until a decline in that industry in 1999 led it to diversify. “In 2008, when everyone else was crashing, we missed our sales goal by just a few percent,” Martin says. “Being spread across multiple markets has really served us well during turbulent economic times.”
A Lean Operation
DeWys earlier this year opened a second manufacturing facility to keep up with customer demand. The 20,000-square-foot facility is located a short distance away from the company’s main 90,000-square-foot facility in Marne. The company is ISO 9001 certified.
DeWys’ sheet metal fabrication capabilities include laser cutting, turret punching, bending and forming, hardware insertion, welding, machining, powder coating and product assembly.
New equipment is regularly added to DeWys’ operations. Most recently, the company added a Salvagnini P2-Lean panel bender to its operations. The new machine complements an existing Salvagnini bender in DeWys’ production area the company has used for the past eight years.
Key features of the new machine include automated tool changers and enhanced bending capabilities. DeWys also recently installed a Nordson powder coating line.
DeWys uses lean manufacturing methods throughout its operations – including in its front office. “We’ve streamlined every process here from the quotation stage to order entry and invoicing,” Martin says, noting that value stream mapping is conducted on administrative procedures. “Our customer service and order entry staff take orders for a product, schedule the shop for repeat customers, and can answer questions about where an order is in our process.”
The company uses a kanban system to ensure it is regularly stocked with raw materials such as sheet metal as well as common supplies such as safety gloves. Inventory is typically completely turned over 24 times in a year.
Back to School
DeWys’ manufacturing team members are extensively trained before reaching the production floor. The company’s in-house manufacturing program, DeWys University, includes six weeks of classroom training led by a certified instructor. Courses are conducted on each of the company’s major manufacturing processes including welding, press brake operation, powder coating, machining and cutting.
Following the classroom training, new employees are teamed with an instructor on the production floor for additional hands-on training. The hands-on training lasts another six weeks.
DeWys’ training program and lean manufacturing focus were noted by the Michigan Manufacturers Association, which named the company Manufacturer of the Year in the small tier category.
Martin attributes the company’s success to its close-knit staff. “I’m proud of the relationship we have with our team, which can be difficult for growing companies such as ours to maintain,” he says. “We can walk onto the shop floor and know everyone’s name and gain their input. We maintain close relationships with our team, and they, in turn, are close with our customers.”