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The Strategic Moment: When Contractors Should Consider Starting a Sheet Metal Shop or Investing in Portable Roll Formers

John Kenney June 2023 MCS Influencer
June 28, 2023 at 12:00 p.m.

MCS Influencer John Kenney says that having your own sheet metal shop or portable roll former machine can give you more control over your metal construction projects. 

Sheet metal fabrication and roll forming are essential components of the construction industry, particularly in roofing and cladding systems. Let's look at some guidelines for roofing contractors considering expanding their business by setting up a sheet metal shop or investing in portable roll formers. It is crucial to understand when to make this significant investment to maximize its benefits and ensure long-term growth. 

When to establish a sheet metal shop 

Consistent demand for customization 

If you're a contractor who consistently encounters projects that require custom-made sheet metal components, it may be an indication that it's time to establish a sheet metal shop. Having your own shop can ensure that specific requirements are met accurately, reduce lead times and guarantee that the quality of work meets your standard. 

Volume of sheet metal work 

The volume of sheet metal work you handle is also a significant factor. If your business has been regularly subcontracting a large amount of sheet metal work to other companies, owning a sheet metal shop can improve cost-efficiency in the long run. This is especially true when subcontracting costs exceed the potential costs of starting your own shop, including equipment, labor and maintenance. 

Enhanced control over production 

Establishing your sheet metal shop gives you complete control over the production process. You can manage production timelines better, adjust according to changes in project requirements swiftly, and reduce the chances of delays caused by third-party suppliers. 

When to invest in portable roll formers 

On-site customization 

Investing in portable roll formers can be highly beneficial if your business often requires on-site customization for various projects. It allows you to provide an immediate response to any changes in design or structure, ensuring seamless workflow and increased productivity. 

Frequent site-to-site movement 

Contractors who frequently move from one site to another may find portable roll formers a valuable investment. These machines are designed for mobility, providing you the flexibility to carry out roll-forming operations anywhere necessary. 

Business expansion and diversification 

Investing in portable roll formers can also be a strategic move when you're planning to expand your business or diversify your services. They can help you offer your clients a broader range of services, like custom trim or roofing panels, enhancing your competitive edge in the market. 

Reducing outsourcing costs 

Just like establishing a sheet metal shop, investing in portable roll formers can also help reduce outsourcing costs. If you find your business regularly outsourcing roll-forming work, getting your own equipment could lead to substantial savings over time. 

Conclusion 

Deciding when to start a sheet metal shop or invest in portable roll formers involves carefully considering multiple factors, including the volume of work, the need for customization, cost analysis and strategic business expansion. As contractors look to these options for their businesses, it's crucial to remember that these investments are about increasing revenue and improving the quality of service provided, gaining control over production and achieving long-term business growth. By aligning these considerations with the business's objectives and capabilities, contractors can make informed decisions that propel their business forward in the competitive construction industry. 

John Kenney is the CEO of Cotney Consulting GroupSee his full bio here.



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