Issue Fall 13
BE Peterson is unlike many of its competitors in the metal fabrication field, and Vice President of Business Development Daniel Szczurko says the reasons why it is different also are the reasons why the company has been a solid presence in the marketplace for more than 75 years. The company was founded by the Peterson family in Massachusetts in 1935, and since that time it has grown into a metal fabricator capable of working with major customers to produce highly complicated components.
Szczurko says the most unique aspect of BE Peterson is how it serves its customer base. Many metal fabricators build components to customers’ specifications on a per-order basis, but BE Peterson works to provide contract-manufacturing services to some clients on a daily basis. The most prominent example of this model is the company’s work for Phillips Medical, for which BE Peterson manufactures most of the metal components for the super-magnets used in MRI machines. Szczurko says this has grown into a significant portion of the company’s business over the years, giving BE Peterson a daily flow of contract manufacturing work to keep it busy.
“That really helps ease the ebb and flow of being a job shop operator,” Szczurko says.
Another substantial customer for BE Peterson is Alston Power, which contracts the company to produce parts for coal burning boilers. Szczurko says this relationship has led to a significant aftermarket parts business for BE Peterson, which is another unusual aspect of the company compared to other metal fabricators.
The third-largest segment of the company’s business involves fabricating pressure vessels, and Szczurko says the company has the certifications to produce these pressure vessels for customers in Canada, Europe and the United States. BE Peterson has ASME, TUV, PED and CRN certification availability. The company’s ISO 9001 2008 quality certification is another unique feature BE Peterson has among other metal fabricators. These and other factors may make BE Peterson something of an anomaly in the industry, but they also make it one of the most successful in the business.
BE Peterson has to be more than unique to succeed in the metal fabrication business, of course, and Szczurko says the company brings a great deal of experience and expertise to the table for its customers. One of the company’s core strengths is its engineering prowess, as well as its skill in project management. This allows BE Peterson to work closely with its customers to develop solutions to their specific needs.
“We spend a lot of time working with our customers to understand the product that we’re going to be fabricating,” Szczurko says. “Engineering up front is very key to our business.”
Because of this commitment to working closely with customers, BE Peterson can forge long-term partnerships with them. Szczurko says the company says its initials “BEP” also can stand for “building engineering partnerships.” This is a belief that infuses every level of the company, he adds.
“One of the primary drivers behind our business is our management’s commitment to long-term relationships with customers,” Szczurko says.
The reason BE Peterson can bring that level of skill and experience to the table and build those long-term relationships is because of its long-tenured staff. According to Szczurko, the average employee at the company has eight to 10 years of service, with some serving the company for up to 25 years and beyond. However, BE Peterson also recognizes the need to keep a steady stream of young employees coming into the company, and Szczurko says this has been one of the company’s biggest challenges of late.
“I think having quality employees is the biggest challenge to any business today,” he says. “Kids coming out of school are not really focusing on the trades.” Without many young people seeking out education in the trades, BE Peterson has taken it upon itself to seek out young people itself and provide its own training while providing them an opportunity to work.
Building up the company’s labor pool has taken on increased importance recently, as Szczurko says BE Peterson’s other significant challenge is keeping up with ever-decreasing lead-times. Customers want their orders filled faster than ever before, leading the company to split shifts and ramp up production, which requires more skilled labor. “You can be working on programs for months and months, and the day you get that order people want it tomorrow,” Szczurko says. “You can’t just go out and find this kind of labor.”
Additionally BE Peterson has built excellent relationships with raw material vendors. The volume of materials BE Peterson purchases generally ensure immediate availability in most cases and advantageous competitive pricing that is passed along to customers.
BE Peterson will find ways to grow in the future, he adds, specifically through the addition of added services such as assembly and sub-assembly work. “We’re always looking to grow the company with value-added work,” Szczurko says.
He adds that the company also has plans to expand its 88,000-square-foot production and office facility in the near future. Whatever form the company’s growth takes in the future, BE Peterson’s multiple strengths will help it stand out in the industry.