Glunt Industries Invests in Employees, Equipment

WARREN, Ohio — Glunt Industries Inc. stands to become more productive and efficient this year as it makes the investments necessary in the two key areas of its business: people and equipment.

Gary Shells, Glunt corporate manager, says the backlog of orders is strong and demand in the manufacturing sectors it serves – mostly steel and aluminum mills – remains steady.

“The manufacturing sector is pretty solid,” Shells says. “I don’t see any letup in this market right now.”

The bulk of the company’s business is refurbishing equipment and components such as shears, rolls, presses, gearboxes, spindles, coil assemblies and hundreds of other parts for the steel and aluminum industries, Shells says.

“About 75% to 85% of our business is reconditioning,” the corporate manager says. The rest of the business is dedicated to the manufacture of new components for an assortment of industries.

Last year, Glunt commissioned a new bridge mill, a computer numerical controlled, or CNC, vertical machining center capable of machining a part in one operation. Where a conventional machining operation can take as many as 10 setups to complete, a CNC bridge mill can turn, bore and drill more accurately in a single setting.

“This will do it all in one shot,” he says. “They’re all CNCs. They’re very fast. They’re very efficient. And they’re very accurate.”

The company has eight such machines in the plant and another bridge mill Glunt purchased is set to be installed toward the middle of this year, Shells says. “Were you to walk in here 10 or 12 years ago, the plant would have been filled with older machines dating to the 1980s,” he relates. “Now, we’ve revamped this whole shop and invested in late-model CNC equipment.”

Glunt’s 90,000-squre-foot plant on North River Road also houses older pieces of equipment such as lathes, boring mills and other traditional tools of the trade.

Investing in new machinery is especially important so the company can stay ahead of the market and remain competitive, even in good times. “I think there’s a sense of sustainability in the market, especially in the flat-rolled and sheet-metal sector,” he remarks. “Our orders are very strong, and there’s no indication of a major slowdown.”

The automotive market, for example, is very robust, as is the durable goods sector that includes appliances and other household goods, Shells notes. “From a sales standpoint, 2014 was a very good year,” he adds. “We were probably 5% to 10% above 2013.”

Key to Glunt’s success is its diversified customer base and its ability to serve just about any market that uses equipment or machinery. “We’re a job shop,” Shells says. “We’re very diversified with the equipment we have and the people we have on staff.”

Regardless, the job market remains tight when it comes to finding qualified machinists, welders and fabricators. “There are manpower issues with this area,” Shells says, “as it is with the rest of the country.”

Last year, the situation prompted Glunt to develop an internal training program designed to educate both new hires and existing employees who demonstrate potential and the desire to improve their skills, he says.

“We’re working with some of the schools in the area as well as the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition,” Shells says.

The program offers a comprehensive curriculum that involves more formal training than the previous efforts the company pursued. “We’ll bring in some guys who have had some schooling and work with them,” Shells says.

The program is open as well to existing employees who demonstrate the aptitude and skills necessary to move ahead. “There are four in the program right now,” he reports.

While it would be ideal to hire a turnkey machinist who requires little or no training, Shells says it’s likely that any new hire will require some investment from the company. “You’re always looking for the guy who can come in and hit the ground running,” he comments, “but the reality is that you have to invest.”

On any given day, Glunt handles between 50 to 75 projects on the shop floor as workers perform welding, machining, fitting and grinding operations for major industrial customers across the country. The business employs 175 among its three plants.

Larry Bugno, an assembler at Glunt, says his job is to fit parts together that will eventually become a newly reconditioned machine or piece of equipment. “I sand, cut it, grind on it,” he says, until the part fits. “I’ve been in this business for about 40 years.”

Each piece of equipment in need of reconditioning receives a complete makeover, Shells says. Large machines the steel industry uses are completely taken apart, fitted with new components as necessary, reassembled, painted, and shipped back to the customer.

On this late January day, Bugno is busy fitting parts that will make up a shear. “I’ve put a few of these together,” he says with a laugh. “But, it’s really nice because it’s not like an assembly line. There’s something different every day.”

Pictured: 2014 was “a very good year” for sales, says Glunt corporate manager Gary Shells. Sales rose 5% from the year before.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.