by Veronica Garabelli
A new year means new opportunities for Service Center Metals in Prince George County. The aluminum extrusions manufacturer not only is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year but also is planning to expand in 2014.
Scott Kelley, the company’s president and CEO, says the expansion would add more than 20 employees and 80,000 square feet to its 150,000-square-foot-Prince George facility, which now has 120 workers. Service Center Metals currently produces bars, rods, pipes and custom shapes.
As part of the expansion, the company will recycle scraps from its production to create cast-aluminum billets. The billets then will be used as raw material in its extrusion manufacturing. The result, says Kelley, is a cheaper, greener alternative because the company will not have to buy raw material from third-party vendors.
Service Center Metals was founded in 2002 by Kelley, Randy Weis and Chip Dollins Jr., three former Reynolds Metals Co. executives. Unlike bigger competitors, the company deals exclusively with service centers, which resell the products to manufacturers. “It was a unique concept, and we wanted to make sure our customers understood our commitment to their industry,” Kelley says.
To launch the company, the three founders began raising money a week before 9/11. Economic ripple effects from the terrorist attack slowed down the financing process. “We got to the point where we had to make a decision whether to continue or go back into the work force,” Kelley says.
They stuck it out and shipped their first product in 2003. By 2006 things were looking good; the company doubled the size of its plant and tripled capacity.
Service Center Metals, however, hit a rough patch in 2008 during the Great Recession. Demand fell by 40 percent, forcing the company to cut production jobs. Nonetheless, Kelley says, the company bounced back and was able to hire back its full crew of workers by the next summer.
“We’re probably going to be more successful than we ever thought,” Kelley says. “Even with the recession, which was quite a jolt, the company is doing extremely well. We are able to grow, and our customers and investors and, more importantly, employees have a lot of confidence in our ability to grow the business.”
In September, Service Center Metals received a Resilience Award for manufacturers from the Initiative for Business in Society at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. The awards recognize companies that have shown resilience in economically depressed areas of the state.
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