Case Studies

Formtek Inc.: High-tech Forming Equipment

  • Written by: Formtek Inc.: High-tech Forming Equipment
  • Produced by: Formtek Inc.: High-tech Forming Equipment
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Formtek Inc. (Formtek) is a national group of metal forming equipment specialists that came together in 1996 to offer diversified equipment for various applications. “We’re composed of several different historic companies that were in the metal-forming industry,” says Darren Muchnicki, president of Formtek. “Collectively, we can pretty much handle all metal-forming processing equipment in multiple industries.”

Formtek’s group includes B&K, Dahlstrom, Engel Industries, Hill Engineering, Iowa Precision, Lockformer, Rowe, Tishken, Winpro, Yoder and Cooper-Weymouth, Peterson (CWP), all of which are longstanding manufacturers acquired over the last few decades.

The Cleveland-based group incorporated in 1996, and Formtek also operates two additional locations in Chicago, Ill., and Clinton, Maine. From these locations Formtek has reached markets worldwide, says Jack Pennuto, director of sales and marketing. “About 60 percent of our business is domestic and about 40 percent is international,” he elaborates. Formtek’s breadth allows the business to self-perform the entire process of fabrication from start to finish, from engineering and design to machining and product testing.

Industrial Applications

Formtek’s many divisions offer specialty equipment and services for a number of sectors, including medicine, HVAC and construction. With a vast array of specialties, each acquired manufacturer brings something special to the Formtek table.

Both Iowa Precision and Lockformer build machinery for manufacturers of air system components, like the ducts and joints produced for ventilation systems. Iowa Precision also builds equipment for coil processing.

CWP offers a variety of coil-feed systems for metal stamping, as well as metal sheet processing. Rowe and B&K also build machines for these applications, while Winpro builds equipment for making windows, including glasscutters and assembling window screens.

The group’s machinery has been involved in several specialty markets recently as Formtek’s footprint grows. “We’re building long-term relationships with companies here and abroad,” explains Pennuto. “We’re really excited to be expanding globally so quickly.” Many of the company’s machines are being put to use in the energy sector, including the construction of solar panels for private use or on solar farms. Pennuto reports that the group is expanding its lines of metal building equipment and has been involved in several sustainability projects, including recycling and low-waste operations.

The Politics of Production

Formtek recently started building equipment for the shale gas industry. “It’s been a pretty controversial news topic,” says Pennuto. “But it’s also led to a huge boom in employment.” The machinery will be used to form horizontal drilling pipelines that have been a source of political upset for many people. “Politics have a lot to do with the industry,” says Pennuto. The market has been on an upswing for Formtek and its related industries for the last two years, but there remains some concern about clients holding back on purchases around election time.

The economic uptick has presented other challenges for the business. “Vendors and related services’ lead times have increased,” explains Pennuto. “With the recession, some of them have lost employees and as the economy is picking back up, they’ve had trouble increasing the workforce to go with it.” Formtek experienced its own personnel problems; however, Pennuto says, “We’ve been able to find skilled workers and machine builders who can read engineering drawings, but it’s been a challenge in the past.”

The company sources materials from a variety of vendors. “We rely on repeat [supplier] business,” explains Pennuto. “We have accounts with many large companies here and abroad.” Despite long-standing relationships with suppliers, external factors sometimes present challenges in the supply chain. “Electric motors made from rare earth metals have gone down in supply and availability,” says Pennuto. “And that’s led to a price and lead-time increase.” The group has so far been able to compensate for this obstacle without presenting a major disservice to its customers, and Pennuto reveals, “Many of our vendors are looking at redesigning motors.” While the potential downtime can effect production, better supplies will undoubtedly benefit the manufacturing process.

With the market on the up, Pennuto and Muchnicki are seeing great growth potential for Formtek. “We’re always on the lookout for opportunities,” says Muchnicki. “We may expand into some markets we don’t yet hit.”

Formtek has established a solid financial position and the president credits the divisions’ diversity in products. “When the general economy is down, we still manage to do alright,” explains Muchnicki. “Our benchmark is really the output of the steel mills. If people are buying, then we’re good. If the mills slow down, we slow down.”

While Formtek has been a name in the industry for less than a decade, many of its divisions have been around for over 100 years. These brands have built a foundation of success that the group has grown upon, carrying on several traditions of quality products and services. The company is on the rise and Formtek Inc. will continue to develop the leading solutions for metals manufacturing in the United States and abroad.

Published on: March 16, 2013

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