In 2002, Great Falls-based Anderson Steel bought a $900,000 beam line, automatic equipment that does drilling, sawing, punching, shearing and fabrication of structural steel.
“It isn’t fully depreciated yet, but it is already out of date,” said Susan Humble, the owner of the metal fabrication business established in 1970 by her father, Duane “Bud” Anderson.
That beam line is being replaced with $1.2 million of fabrication equipment, which will help increase productivity and efficiency.
“The new beam line replaces five pieces of equipment,” Humble said. “A process that took two people 45 minutes to complete now takes one person three minutes.”
The plan is to leverage that increased productivity to increase sales and boost Anderson Steel’s workforce by 15 personnel this year and a total of 50 over the next four years.
“We had 40 employees and we are now up to 47, so we are half way for our hiring goal this year,” Humble said.
The investment, financed in part by a $112,500 Big Sky Trust Fund grant from the Montana Department of Commerce tied to the increase in jobs, is part of an aggressive business plan for Anderson Steel’s metal fabrication division.
“We are bidding projects across Montana and the Western U.S., including Alaska and Hawaii,” said Bob Reiman, vice president of operations for Anderson Steel Supply. “By refocusing our efforts, we are returning to the original business plan this company was founded on 46 years ago.”
For example, Anderson Steel was the successful bidder for the steel work — architectural steel components such as handrails, stairs, as well as the structural steel — for the $14 million Washington Grizzly Champion Center, a 46,000-square-foot complex that will be located behind the southwest corner of Washington-Grizzly Stadium at the University of Montana. The center will house a new 7,000-square-foot locker room for the Grizzly football team, a 12,500-square-foot strength and conditioning center for all student-athletes and team meeting spaces.
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