Laser Cut expands with Metal Finish
By ELISA SAND, Staff Reporter
Madison business owners Hal and Aletha Whitethorn will soon be operating Metal Finish, Inc. to meet their company's needs and growing needs of the region.|
The Whitethorns have been operating Laser Cut, their metal fabrication and machining business, since 1994. The company has typically outsourced the finishing process to regional companies, but the availability of those services changed in 2011 when a Minnesota company closed.
"That flooded the market," Whitethorn said.
The end result, he said, was a six-week turnaround from any finishing company, which prevented Laser Cut from getting local orders filled in a timely fashion.
Whitethorn said that Metal Finish, Inc. will be located in the center portion of the existing building, between Laser Cut on the west end and Icon Metalworks on the east.
"Within the next month we should be going," Whitethorn said. "We should be installing equipment next week."
The expansion of their business is being made possible through an economic development loan from Heartland Consumers Power District.
The loan will help finance start-up costs of Metal Finish, Inc. The Whitethorns also secured financing from Grow SD, a community action program designed to stimulate business ownership, development and job creation through affordable business lending.
Whitethorn said this finishing process is completely different from the powder coating service offered by Infinity Powder Coating and Welding in Madison. The process that he uses is called electroplating, which changes the chemical and physical properties of a piece of metal. Metal Finish, Inc.'s zinc coatings will be applied to metal parts for various types of machinery and equipment, including skidsteers, forklifts, snow blowers, farm equipment and buses. Any metal products that require a finish to protect them from mud, water, humidity and various other substances are coated.
"We tried other plating companies, but issues with quality and lost inventory forced us and other companies to outsource to surrounding states," Whitethorn said. "This led to higher costs, and other companies started approaching us about offering plating services."
The business will begin with four full-time employees and two part-time employees.
"The Whitethorns realized a regional need and promising market," said Russell Olson, Heartland's manager of community and economic development. "Their new business venture will not only meet the needs of their current business but provide an opportunity for incredible growth."
Heartland's economic development loan fund was established to foster growth and economic development within customer communities through a revolving loan fund. Interest rates are typically lower than traditional rates and funding may be provided for up to 10 years on land, buildings and permanent fixtures. Heartland customers, their economic development corporations and businesses served by Heartland customers are eligible to apply.