The unique people-first approach ensuring JW Aluminum’s ongoing success 

As one of the leading manufacturers of flat rolled sheet and fin stock, JW Aluminum produces infinitely recyclable flat-rolled aluminum that’s used to make products essential to our everyday lives, like building products and HVAC components that keep our homes comfortable and safe. The company has a long history of investment and innovation, as Chief Executive Officer, Stan Brant, begins: “JW Aluminum started in 1980 as a vertically integrated business within Jim Walters Industries. That’s where we get our name. We’ve gone through a number of evolutions since then. The company really began to take shape and become what it is today in 2012, when we undertook a major overhaul of our facilities, training, and equipment. We also welcomed some new talent, who brought a different approach to the marketplace. The company’s success accelerated from that point on. In 2018, we made the single largest investment in the history of the company, over $250 million, into our main production facility. We’re still reaping the rewards of that investment today. Now, our focus is on contemplating the next round of growth and what our future investments might be.” 

Stan Brant, Chief Executive Officer JW Aluminium
Stan Brant
Photos by Marquel Coaxum

It’s no secret that the manufacturing marketplace is highly competitive. Stan discusses how JW Aluminum stays one step ahead: “Our people are the major difference between us and other manufacturers out there. Our philosophy is built upon active engagement from every single member of the team, throughout the entire company. We consider everyone an owner. We all have a stake in the success of the business. Using that perspective, we spend a great deal of time educating people about why we do what we do, what drives us, and what we want to achieve. The strategy comes down to one word: win. We want to be the very best in the industry. 

“It’s important that everyone on our team understands the strategy behind JW Aluminum, so we take people through training that covers our values, tactics, and goals for the future. On a monthly basis, we share all the financial information about the company down to the point you could ask anyone on the shop floor, and they would be able to tell you how much we made last year, what we made last month, and what we’re predicting this month. We then create what’s called a line of sight for each teammate: what do you, individually, need to do to support the business? That transparency keeps people motivated, we all have our part to play, and everyone knows how their hard work contributes to the bigger picture.” 

A bottom-up company culture keeps everyone at JW Aluminum at the top of their game, as Stan details: “The biggest thing we want to achieve is giving everyone on the team a sense of our larger purpose. Our culture is about creating an environment where people want to come and work every day, where individuals can feel a sense of personal satisfaction. It’s intrinsic motivation. Everyone has a purpose, and everyone’s contribution is recognized. 

“There’s also a sense of longevity and scale to the work we do. On average, our teammates have ten years or more tenure with us. That’s double the median tenure for manufacturing. It’s not uncommon for us to have three generations of one family working within the business. The work we do is about laying foundations for the future, you’re creating something that will last both externally and internally. We really want to safeguard our people and their future in whatever way we can, whether that’s by providing a reliable, rewarding workplace, or by taking every measure possible to ensure their safety at work.” 

Maintaining a safe environment is absolutely vital for JW Aluminum, as the company works with heavy machinery and complex chemical processes in order toLots of rolls of flat rolled aluminium manufacture the best possible end product. “We typically start with our major input process, which is scrap aluminum. We get the material from various sources, such as buildings, road signs, and even beverage cans. Our facilities take in around 400 million pounds of scrap metal every year. That’s then melted, and converted from a solid to a liquid using a specific chemical process that ensures the metal meets all the required physical properties for re-use. There’s a lot of thought that goes into this process, and it’s always being refined. We’re continually striving to achieve the highest quality liquid metal as efficiently as possible. 

“The processes that follow are then about turning that liquid material back into a solid. We go through multiple iterations to ensure the metal has the correct properties, for instance it can’t be too thick or wide. The end product is used in building products like metal roofing, siding, soffit, and fascia, as well as heat exchange material for air conditioning units. We use Lean Six Sigma tools and work in a standardized way, and the whole team is well versed in our guidelines for safety, quality, and efficiency. It’s those processes that keep the company successful,” Stan explains. 

The fundamentals of people, passion and process will no doubt help keep JW Aluminum performing successfully both this year and beyond. As Stan concludes: “In 2024, we see that the business fundamentals remain strong. We’re currently operating in a very uncertain marketplace, with global crises, inflation, and considerable macroeconomic fluctuations. However, we’re not concerned. We’ve been preparing to face challenges for the last ten years – we have the best people, the best equipment, and the best philosophy. Yes, there will be obstacles to overcome in the external market, but I fully expect us to be successful. We’re going to build on everything we’ve accomplished over the past ten years and continue growing.”