Fusion Tech (Warren County)

Fusion Tech
Roseville, IL

Background: Fusion Tech started out as a three to four man operation in the late 1990s primarily as an on-site contractor for installation of stainless steel products in the meat packing and meat processing industries, such as Farmland Foods and John Morrell. As time progressed, these customers were requesting that Fusion manufacture the equipment (IE conveyors, dumpers, hoppers and other specialized items) themselves during the week and perform the installation services of the equipment on the weekends which started the principle of "one stop shopping." Relying on many outsourced vendors to supply product to Fusion, we started to purchase equipment to produce internally. Today Fusion has grown to more than 50 employees and has significantly increased their internal capabilities.

Exceptional Nature: Speed to market, quick turns and customer service mark the exceptional nature of this business. In this day and age, customer service seems to be non-existent. Fusion has taken the attitude that if they cannot help a customer, they will point them in the direction of someone who can and they very rarely say "no." Honesty is the best policy. If they can meet their customer's needs, they will; if they cannot meet the needs or the lead time, they tell the customer how quickly they can.

Innovation is driven by listening to customers' needs and trying to find a better way to do it. A lot of Fusion's products have been implemented by taking a design that is readily available in the market and making it better, stronger and faster than the competition.

Keeping up with technology has been the biggest attribute to Fusion's success. The purchase of the latest drafting and 3D software, CNC programming, CNC machines and people have greatly aided Fusion in the aggressive growth they have had.

They have production meetings every Tuesday and Thursday mornings to talk about open jobs, quoted jobs and customer needs. Each department head has the floor for 10 minutes either before or after the job list has been discussed to talk about ideas, problems or hurdles they may have in their specific areas.

Entrepreneurial Business: There are a lot of good fabricators out there in the marketplace, but Fusion is confident there are not a lot of good stainless fabricators. They decided to focus their core business around stainless steel due to higher margins and fewer competitors. People have to eat; and their experience in the food industry related to cleanliness, contamination, USDA compliance and a complete wash down environment helps them keep their edge in a diverse market. They roll this experience and knowledge to other facets of industry to aid in making things better with lower maintenance costs from their customers' perspective.

Knowing how much to grow and how fast made it difficult to determine when to add on, when to hire more people and when to purchase new equipment. One of their biggest gains was the way that they scheduled their waterjets and laser to accommodate their customers' needs by essentially having 24/7 production without burning out their work force. They created three shifts, 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday – Thursday; 6:00 p.m. – 6:00 a.m., Monday – Thursday; and 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Friday - Sunday. This allowed their weekday employees three days a week off and their weekend employees four days a week off.

Significant Achievements: Fusion employs roughly 53 people in a down market starving for manufacturing capabilities. They also invested their own money in a MET tower (which is used in the wind industry to measure wind speed, direction and temperature) in order to produce the data to support a wind turbine to run the facility more efficiently. After about four to six months of feeding data to a source that posted these speeds on Illinoiswind.org, it created a lot of attention in this area/community for potential investors to want to build a wind farm in both Warren and McDonough counties. The end result is that there will be a 200 mega watt farm built surrounding their shop in the next two years. For the community, it will produce roughly $2 million in tax revenue for the next 30 years.

Fusion's main goal in growing sales is diversification. They cannot be everything to everyone, and they do not want to work hard and go home hungry, so they are carrying the experience they have gained over to other markets. Their largest selling point is the ability to re-design a customer print which is difficult to read, tweak it and make it into a set of build prints with an accurate bill of materials so anyone can build it.

this will be replaced by the SWF.