The Greater Lansing Business Monthly June 2012

Look North For Growth

Capital Steel & Wire, Inc. recently repositioned its corporate headquarters to DeWitt, but still maintains a facility in Lansing that incorporates distribution, along with precision machines that cut custom steel slugs for customers throughout the United States and South America. The company also activated a facility in Mason in May.

The DeWitt headquarters, a rehabbed building near the Looking Glass River, houses accounting, sales, operations, safety and logistics. CEO Dustin Preston says, “There are quite a few employees that are from the north side of town and we had the opportunity to buy the building.” Being from DeWitt himself made the decision that much easier.

“Our Lansing facility is not new, but the production we’re doing in it is newer,” he says, adding that they currently cut between seven and nine million pieces of steel annually. Steel comes in from all over the country, Canada and Mexico. “As it comes in to us, it’s...melted and rolled to a customer’s specification,” Preston explains. “And what we do to it, specifically, is process the material.” The process adds value before shipping it out to destinations as distant as Brazil.

Although about 70 percent of their work are work-in-process programs, Capital Steel & Wire also stocks material in its Cleveland facility. “We have product on the floor; people buy it, we ship it. We don’t process it.” But Preston says he prefers work-in-process business over “trying to guess what inventory you need to have. [And] it seems to be working all right.”

“All right” may be an understatement. Capital Steel & Wire now employs over 60 people and continues to grow. Preston attributes this to his staff. “It’s all about the good people we’ve hired. We’ve been able to continue to impress the market and take market share by staying absolutely leaner than others out there,” he says. They’ve also been able to take advantage of commercial real estate, acquiring existing infrastructure which enables the company to be a good distributor without having to start from scratch.

Preston says other than saw operators in Lansing, turnover is virtually a non-issue. What can be an issue is finding good people, especially in sales. “I prefer to hire a good quality person who I think is intelligent enough to be trained the way I feel is the correct way to sell steel to the market. It’s a certain kind of sales method and very fundamental, but it still takes pretty much a good, old-fashioned sense in knowing who you might have a relationship with, and maturing to the point where it turns into orders. Some people have it, and some people don’t.”

Preston says the company began to rebound in late 2009. “In October ‘09, things started improving and we really haven’t seen a decrease since then; 2011 was a really strong year and 2012 doesn’t look to be any different. Everything seems to be going in the right direction for us.”