Georgia Tech Helps North Georgia Metal Fabricator Increase Production and Sales

Lee Adams, president of Fabritex, shows EI2 project manager Karen Fite how the company implemented lean principles throughout its facility in Hartwell, Ga.

Lee Adams, president of Fabritex Inc., remembers exactly how his family-owned business started. His entrepreneurial father had purchased a trampoline and realized he could make the metal frame as well as anybody else.

“We started 20 years ago in 1989, and since then, we’ve grown into a 55-employee, 110,000-square-foot facility with an emphasis on tube fabrication and sheet and plate fabrication,” Adams said. “We manufacture everything from tubular wire carriers to stem baskets to annealing process materials. Just because we haven’t built something before doesn’t mean we’re not going to quote on it. We try to think outside the box and sell ourselves as a one-stop shop.”

It was precisely this innovative mindset that brought both opportunity and challenges to Fabritex, based in Hartwell, Ga. In 2007, a customer asked Adams about producing a new product line within a specific timeframe and gradually ramping up production to cut cost. To determine the most efficient way to do so, Adams called on Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute.

Tara Barrett, Danny Duggar and Karen Fite, all project managers with the Enterprise Innovation Institute, led a project in value stream mapping, a technique used to analyze the flow of materials and information required to bring a product or service to a consumer. As part of a value stream mapping project, the team developed a value stream map that identified all the value-added and non-value-added steps then in use, assessed the current state to create product flow by eliminating waste, and drew and implemented a map showing what the future state could be.

“Fabritex needed to increase throughput and reduce cost. The results were that they were able to increase their production to a capacity of 500 units per month and meet their customer’s requirements,” noted Fite. “Our goal is to have Fabritex learn the concepts and continue to implement them after we’re gone.”

According to Adams, the process is now streamlined and more efficient. The company has made nearly $300,000 in capital investments, saved $100,000 and increased sales by more than $1 million. The company also created eight jobs and doubled production.

“Georgia Tech was really able to get the creative juices flowing. It gave the guys working on the floor the encouragement to make improvements and make suggestions where normally they wouldn’t have spoken up,” Adams observed. “Now there’s a craftsmanship to what they do; they’re not just here punching a clock.”

The value stream mapping project proved so successful that the company has continued to partner with Georgia Tech. Dan Trier, sales and marketing manager, has already taken several classes offered through the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC), an organization based at the Enterprise Innovation Institute that helps Georgia businesses identify, compete for and win government contracts.

“We’ve had a Corps of Engineers project for more than 10 years, but this is an area we would like to explore more. I’ve attended classes on how to read and speak government procurement language, which is not easy, as well as learning where to find government contracts, how to read them and how to fill them out,” Trier said. “Joe Beaulieu, Steve Bettner and Chuck Schadl will answer any question we have and have really been helpful in terms of where to find the contract opportunities.”

In addition to classes, GTPAC provides its clients with coaching, mentoring and a set of tools to research and identify government contracting opportunities. Services are available at no cost to any Georgia business, large or small, that possesses the interest and potential to perform work, as a prime contractor or a subcontractor, for federal, state or local government agencies.

According to Fite, Fabritex has all the ingredients for success, especially in these challenging economic times.

“Fabritex had the right culture to accept and tackle this type of project – a strong culture that adapts to change, employees who will create solutions to unique problems, and, most importantly, leadership that promotes continuous improvement through the motivation, guidance and support of employees,” she said.

 

 

About Enterprise Innovation Institute:
The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation.

Research News & Publications Office
Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (email hidden; JavaScript is required).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright

Georgia Tech Helps Marietta Janitorial Company Land Government Contracts

Toney Sellers (middle), president of Unique Clean, poses with some of his staff outside their Marietta office. Pictured from left to right are: Kentara Bernard, administrative assistant; Ellen Pine, contract administration; Sellers; Christy Eidson, accounting/HR; Dana Beckford, administrative assistant; Marie Sherard, contract administration.

In 1996, Toney Sellers, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, decided he wanted to start a janitorial company. Unique Cleaning Service, Inc. began with commercial clients, and by 2000, had branched into the federal arena. Over the past nine years, Unique Cleaning’s government contracts have grown from one to more than 60, a feat Sellers attributes partially to Georgia Tech’s Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC).

GTPAC – part of the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute – provides no-cost assistance with government procurement to any company licensed to do business in Georgia. Last year, GTPAC conducted seminars in Albany, Atlanta, Augusta, Carrollton, Columbus, Gainesville, Rockmart, Savannah and Warner Robins. The center assists companies with all aspects of federal, state and local government procurement processes, including solicitation analysis, proposal preparation, pre- and post-award counseling, and quality and accounting systems. Procurement counselors also analyze whether companies have the potential for participating in the government procurement process.

“We heard about GTPAC, contacted a procurement counselor, and he helped us develop a company profile to begin receiving electronic notifications that enabled us to view solicitations in the janitorial field based on a certain geographical area,” recalled Sellers. “Postings that we were interested in led us into the bid process with government agencies.”

In January 2001, Unique Cleaning became 8(a) certified by the U.S. Small Business Administration, meaning the company meets the requirements of being a small business, is unconditionally owned and controlled by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged people who are U.S. citizens, and demonstrates potential for success. Most importantly, having 8(a) certification means a business can bid on government projects that uncertified companies cannot.

In addition, at least one staff member from Unique Cleaning has attended every GTPAC seminar on topics as varied as preparing successful bids and proposals, understanding the General Services Administration schedules process, using the computer to win government contracts and marketing to state and local governments. They have also contacted procurement counselors Joe Beaulieu and Chuck Schadl to prepare a Freedom of Information Act request and provide information on small business size standards.

“These seminars are extremely helpful as a way of understanding how to do business with the local, state and federal agencies,” said Ellen Pine, Unique Cleaning’s manager of contract administration. “The workshops have allowed us an opportunity to meet other companies and network, and a wealth of data is transferred to seminar participants for future referral.”

Unique Cleaning has grown from a one-person business to more than 125 employees today, with contracts from Massachusetts to Puerto Rico to Oregon. The company, which has increased its revenue from $225,000 its first year, is now targeting the $10 million threshold. Unique Cleaning Service, Inc. now generates approximately 90 percent of its revenue from government-related contracts.

Unique Cleaning’s success has even been recognized by its hometown economic development agency. In 2009, the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce named Unique Cleaning one of the Top 25 Small Businesses in Cobb County, an award that recognizes member companies for increased sales and contributions to community-oriented projects.

“When we signed on with GTPAC in 2000, we had one government contract; we now have more than 60,” Sellers said. “Their professionalism and dedicated efforts to providing needed information are second to none.”

About Enterprise Innovation Institute:
The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation.

Research News & Publications Office
Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (email hidden; JavaScript is required).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright

Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center Wins National Award

Georgia Tech’s Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) was honored with the 2006-2007 Outstanding Center Award by the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC) at the Association’s annual meeting in Detroit on March 28. Of the 93 centers eligible for the award, GTPAC was judged by a panel of peers across the country as the nation’s top performing center.

“The award recognizes the significant contributions by all of the GTPAC team toward developing and maintaining a top quality level of client assistance and outreach efforts,” said Zack Osborne, GTPAC program director. “Without the strong performance by each counselor and determined clients, this achievement would not have been possible.”

GTPAC – part of the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute – provides no-cost assistance with government procurement to any company licensed to do business in Georgia. Last year, GTPAC conducted seminars in Albany, Atlanta, Augusta, Carrollton, Columbus, Gainesville, Rockmart, Savannah and Warner Robins. The Center assists companies with all aspects of federal, state and local government procurement processes, including solicitation analysis, proposal preparation, pre- and post-award counseling, and quality and accounting systems. Procurement counselors also analyze whether or not the company has the potential for government procurement.

Since 1986, GTPAC has helped hundreds of Georgia companies successfully compete in the government markets with contract awards exceeding $3.9 billion. These contract awards have resulted in the retention or creation of some 89,141 jobs. In 2006, GTPAC assisted clients in their efforts to win more than $1 billion in contracts, which translated to more than 20,000 jobs saved or created. Also in 2006, GTPAC assisted more than 2,000 clients and had more than 400 new clients enter the government market. During the same time period, GTPAC sponsored 88 seminars and assisted in 42 other outreach events.

Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail: (email hidden; JavaScript is required).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright