Riverside Industries LLC, founded in 1984, is an ISO-compliant shop that offers laser cutting, forming and fabrication services as well as AutoCad and Solid Works drafting. The company is also a full line steel, stainless steel and aluminum distributor of sheet, plate and tubing products. It occupies a 38,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Huron, S.D.
The owners, Jerome and John Waldner, purchased the company in 2015 with the idea of eventually entering the original equipment manufacturer space. Their challenge lay in first needing to identify work and find custom jobs to support the shop until the company’s own product line got off the ground.
But where to get the custom work the required? In the summer of 2016, Jerome, Riverside’s shop foreman, and John, the company CEO, turned to MFG.com, a global marketplace that brings buyers and suppliers together, to be the source of the work they sought to sustain their shop.
Any number of directories purport to match manufacturers with suppliers of parts, but successful matchmaking is anything but simple. Should you only consider domestic partners or should you expand your search overseas? Should you focus only on low-cost suppliers? How can you be assured of reliability and quality work? And how quickly can you get pricing on requested work?
The Waldners felt the global marketplace offered by MFG.com sufficiently answered their concerns. After they trained with MFG.com, learned the mechanics of its website and the variety of tools at their disposal, they then set up searches focusing on work involving stainless and carbon steel, since machining with sheet metal is the shop’s specialty.
Within months, work identified via MFG.com constituted 50 percent of Riverside Industries’ production, says Jerome Waldner. Through the marketplace, he has offered quotes on 265 RFQs and been awarded more than 60 jobs — orders involving anywhere from 1 to 750 pieces. Fifty percent involved aluminum and carbon steel. Jerome indicates that he has connected with some bigger companies via MFG.com and established some excellent business relationships. Much of this work involves laser cutting, another specialty of the firm.
He says that the buyers with whom he works come from all over the United States and represent a variety of industries. “We go with the flow and take whatever work comes our way.”
He says the use of ShopIQ, a tool MFG.com offers to subscribers to help them benchmark their quotes against their competitors, has been beneficial to Riverside. “It has educated us on how to be competitive with other U.S. manufacturers.” Jerome acknowledges that his bids were too high at first, but now he’s got a firm grasp on his bidding strategy. He says, “We are regulated now. The practice has been good for us.”
Buyer ratings also have assisted his success on MFG.com. So far, Riverside Industries has received six or seven ratings, which Jerome feels were both fair and accurate. When asked if they facilitated job wins, he says, “They help us a lot. We even got a five-star rating.”
Efficiency is another boon of the partnership with MFG.com. The amount of work Riverside has received has made the company more efficient with its tooling, he says. That, in turn, saves time and money for both Riverside and its buyers.
Jerome adds that, “MFG.com has allowed us to fulfill our dream of being able to make OEM products on the side. Beyond giving us much-needed work experience, MFG.com jobs provided us the monetary resources to start making prototypes. We are now ready to market the products that we’ve made in house, such as our own lift table.”
Riverside Industries’ in-house product line includes a way to recycle old thrash wheels as a pneumatic row cleaner for agriculture, an apple press, a dumpster and part box, a shop press and a vegetable press.
“Our idea of entering the OEM space is now almost a reality thanks to MFG.com,” Jerome says. “The work we won in its marketplace supported our operations as we designed our product line and perfected our prototypes. And, that work provided us the opportunity to hone our shop skills and be more efficient across the board. Now, MFG.com awards — and the ongoing business contacts we’ve made on that platform — will help support us as we market our product line. We are most grateful to MFG.com for the role it’s played in our business development.”
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