Spiros Industries is a small manufacturer that has dealt head on with the challenges associated with strong and steady growth.
“We are growing every year and we are trying to grow while improving our operations at the same time,” Spiros president Dennis Backhaus said.
Spiros is a manufacturer of custom springs and wire forms. Its Wisconsin customers include Wauwatosa-based Briggs & Stratton Corp., and Strattec Security Corp., which has its headquarters in Glendale. Many of its customers are outside of Wisconsin.
Spiros has been in business for 21 years and operates a lone, 33,000-square-foot facility in West Bend, where it employs 48 people.
The growth experienced by Spiros has led to space issues at its West Bend plant, Backhaus said.
Spiros turned to Consolidated Construction Co., an Appleton-based firm with an office in Milwaukee that specializes in design-build construction, general contracting, and construction management.
Spiros completed its most recent expansion in 2013, which included 4,000 square feet of additional office space and 4,000 square feet of new factory space.
“Consolidated is a very good company. They helped us out with the construction and design, too,” Backhaus said. “It went very smoothly.”
The space limitations began to hinder Spiros’ ability to manufacture at a desired level of efficiency.
“They were out of space and when that happens you become very inefficient,” said Jim Perras, partner and project director at Consolidated Construction.
The expansion needed to be carried out with a carefully thought out design plan, he said.
“They had a very pastoral site that we didn’t want to wreck,” Perras said.
Consolidated collaborated with southeast regional account manager for the WMEP, to ensure that the expansion would not only create additional space but improve process flow.
Spiros management also desired an expansion that would improve the company’s image in the eyes of its employees and customers and assist in the attraction of much-needed skilled workers, Perras said.
“Spiros wanted a little bit sharper image, one that was professional and modern,” he said.
The partnership with Consolidated was essential in getting the expansion project completed in a timely manner with a high-quality result, Backhaus said.
“Consolidated is very knowledgeable in getting designs done efficiently,” he said. “We don’t have experts on staff or time to worry about the details of construction projects like this. They took care of that for us. It’s let us do what we need to do, and that’s manufacturing.”
Spiros plans to have a new parking lot constructed this spring and is considering another building expansion, which could take place sometime in 2016.
“Business is good. We’ve gotten a little bit bigger and stronger,” Backhaus said.
As a small manufacturer with limited resources, Spiros also has turned to the WMEP for assistance in other areas. Projects have included set-up reduction, which focuses on the quick changeover of factory machinery, and 5S, a system designed to reduce waste and optimize productivity through maintaining an orderly workplace. The term refers to five steps – sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain.
“It’s been a good experience with the WMEP,” Backhaus said. “We’re not really big enough to have an engineering staff to do set-up reduction and other measures on our own.”
The WMEP’s manufacturing specialists offered a variety of perspective and insight, he said.
The WMEP has helped improve Spiros’ overall manufacturing systems, which has boosted margins, Backhaus added.