If you need specialized solutions for stainless steel, look farther than a traditional welder. Consider a metal fabrication company. The right stainless steel fabricator will have the right equipment, training, and innovative resources to get your job done right, without losing time or money.
Finding a metalworker won’t be difficult. In fact, you might need to pare down the options. There are plenty of stainless steel fabricators out there, everything from local shops to large corporations.
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Not all metal work agencies have the same experience or equipment, however. How do you choose which one is best for you? What are the key parameters to consider?
Let’s dive into the factors you need to consider when choosing a stainless steel fabricator to contract with.
You certainly don’t want to turn loose a bevy of amateurs on your project. But you’ll also need to consider the prospective company’s experience with a project of your size and scope.
Ask questions such as:
How long has your company been in the metal fabrication business?
Has your company dealt with complex fabrication projects?
Does your company have experience with projects the same size as mine?
Don’t be afraid to ask about the company’s hiring policies, the average employee tenure, and if the skilled staff hold AWS certification.
The stainless steel fabricator you choose should have the technical expertise and the sizable workforce to take on a project as large as yours. Some companies specialize in projects of a particular size, scope, or style. If you find a company that closely matches your needs, prioritize them.
Size and Experience of the Workforce
Right now, U.S. manufacturers are struggling to recruit and maintain a skilled workforce. You need a company staffed by well trained, experienced, and highly skilled fabricators. Ideally, the team members will have knowledge and skills with stainless steel, heat treatment properties, and fabrication techniques.
How well staffed is the stainless steel fabrication company you’re considering? How are the metalworkers trained? What experience does the team on the ground have with projects like yours? Does this company have the resources/personnel to deliver the job in the timeframe?
Consider the team’s collective experience and the individual skills of each member.
A financially stable organization can ramp up its production capacity by hiring more technicians and investing in new equipment. These companies typically pay the best wages, offer the most attractive work environments, and thus attract the most skillful metal workers.
Ask a stainless steel fabricator you are considering about their financial practices. How will they pay their suppliers? Do they operate in cash or on a line of credit? Will they share their profit and loss accounts with you?
Your project’s success can rise or fall on what happens in the accountant’s office.
Consider every part of the process, including storage, delivery, and product creation.
Does the fabricator you choose need the most cutting-edge manufacturing and metal designing technology on the market? What kinds of services do they offer? Maybe, it depends on the nature and scope of your project. You do need to consider which company has the right fabrication technology and tools to complete your project on time and on budget.
In general, the more automation a company has invested in, the greater their quality control and the fewer mistakes their team makes. If your project demands custom fabrication solutions, is the company willing to invest in the technology needed to perform those solutions well?
What materials does the fabricator use? It is important that they have experience working with the specific materials you are using for your project.
You probably already know you want stainless steel due to its high strength-to-weight ratio and its aesthetic appeal. But did you know that all stainless steel is not created equal? In fact the alloy comes in five families and more than 150 grades of stainless steel. A great stainless steel fabricator will help you choose the right product for your project.
You may even discover that you could use a cost-saving option such as epoxy or galvanized steel instead of stainless.
A stainless steel fabricator should not compromise on quality no matter how much money it may save you to cut corners. Ask any prospective company how they ensure quality across the fabrication process.
It should go without saying that you want the company to meet regulatory standards. In addition, a solid metal manufacturer will impose in-house tests to confirm the quality of their products.
Make sure the company maintains good manufacturing processes and state-of-the-art testing equipment. They should also hold certifications relevant to your project and be willing to invest in the training, staff, or equipment needed to get your project done right. Finally, ask what metrics the company uses to track their performance. Do those metrics match your project’s needs?
You probably aren’t just contracting this company for a one-off project. Instead, you want to develop a long-term business relationship with them.
One good way to learn about how a company treats its customers is to ask the customers themselves. Look through the organization’s list of clients, read the case studies, and then reach out to their clients directly. Inquire about their experience dealing with this company, find out about the company’s communication patterns, and ask if the final product aligned with their expectations.
The way stainless steel fabricator takes care of their other customers is the way they’ll take care of you.
You want to know that a company’s rates are competitive in the market.
Price is a critical factor in your decision, of course, but it shouldn’t be the only element you consider. The cost of doing business may go up if a company works with better quality raw materials or has recently invested in top-of-the-line equipment. Despite charging a higher sticker price, these organizations are often more likely to finish on time with no expensive delays.
As a rule, you don’t want to overspend, but remember that cheaper doesn’t always mean better — in fact, it typically means worse.
In short, if you need a specialized fabrication solution, look for a stainless steel fabricator with a well-trained team, state-of-the-art resources, and experience with similar projects. To learn more about stainless steel fabrication and metal cutting, visit these other articles on our site.
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Kloeckner Metals is a full-line stainless steel supplier and service center. Kloeckner Metals combines a national footprint with the latest fabrication and processing technologies and most innovative customer service solutions.
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Natalie Spira is Kloeckner's Acquisition Marketing Manager. Previously, she was the Founder and CEO of Fraction Marketing, a marketing agency providing fractional support to scaling startups with a focus on acquisition marketing and demand generation. Natalie holds a MBA from Tel Aviv University with concentrations in entrepreneurship and marketing and a BA in English from UCLA.