Case Study: Steel-Pro

Help with Lean Manufacturing and Workforce Expansion

Located on Rockland Harbor, Steel-Pro is a 52-person custom manufacturer of ASME code pressure vessels, biopharmaceutical equipment, vacuum chambers, storage tanks and other custom-designed equipment. To be competitive in this industry as a small manufacturing business, the quality and craftsmanship of welding and fabrication required is at the very highest level. Steel-Pro employees continually reach or exceed those requirements. Steel-Pro was founded in 1978 and generously converted to an employee-owned company in 2014. 

The same year, Steel-Pro reached out to Maine MEP to help the company retain their largest customer. The customer, a large manufacturer of biopharmaceuticals, had set some very aggressive goals around cost reduction and therefore lower pricing. The customer has a long history of implementing lean manufacturing at their suppliers and offered to send their consultants in to do the work with Steel-Pro. Maine MEP was chosen to complete this implementation along with a simultaneous ISO 9001 implementation. 

After that initial implementation, Steel-Pro facilitators and internal auditors have sustained the important work over the past 5 years. As a result of their efforts, Steel-Pro has seen over $3M in new sales, $2M in retained sales, fifteen new jobs, ten retained jobs, and a quarter million dollars in saved costs. At this juncture, Maine MEP primarily supports Steel-Pro’s internal capability, with recent events such as a Kaizen/VSM Refresher, Root Cause Analysis Training and Toyota Kata for Daily Improvement instruction. In all, Maine MEP has offered fourteen training events at Steel-Pro and looks forward to continuing the close relationship in the future.

Steel-Pro President Steve Ladd says, “Maine MEP understood our needs to gain production efficiency while simultaneously implementing an ISO Quality Management System.  The immediate goal was to retain our largest customer. The combined efforts of Maine MEP and Steel-Pro actually resulted in growing that account!”