By Bill Radford III | Jul 10, 2017
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Precision sheet metal, machining, and electromechanical assembly
Industry: Industrial & Contract
Products: Precision sheet metal, machining, and electromechanical assembly
Jerry Flesher founded Advantage Manufacturing as a division of J.A. Flesher Corp. and spun it off as a standalone company in 2005. Scott and CFO Laddie Blaskowski joined Flesher as partners in 2010.
In the years since, Advantage has grown from about 25 employees to 90 and expanded its footprint from 30,000 square feet to 70,000, as annual revenue has increased to roughly $10 million. "It's looking better than it has in a while in our little world," says Scott.
Scott credits his team with the company's success. "A lot of our growth has been directly from on-time delivery and quality," he says. "So we do good and then a buyer moves to another company, and then we get that company."
Advantage's varied customer base includes heavy and light rail, communications, law enforcement, medical, and military. Jobs range from custom canine enclosures for police cars to assembly of hydraulic mining controllers.
"We go after everything," Scott says. "We're in every industry possible because we want to be diversified. Things go up and down, and you don't want to be in one industry."
Turnkey services help set the company apart. Advantage offers engineering design services, so it can take a product from concept to completion. "One of my biggest focuses is growing the final product," Scott says. "The fully integrated product is really what we like to do."
"We've really added a lot of that since Laddie and I bought in," he says. The company used to "send everything out" for services such as powder coating and plating. "What we've done is started bringing everything back in, which is kind of a different model. In the '80s and '90s, it kind of went to where everyone said we just do this or we just do that. Then everything went to China and Puerto Rico, and manufacturing kind of went down. We're trying to get back to doing everything here. That's why we've added plating services in the last couple of years."
Manufacturing in the U.S. is seeing a resurgence, Scott says. "I think a lot of people are really moving toward reshoring. We are seeing a lot of activity, a lot of people who were building overseas who are bringing it back. A lot of people in our business did go out of business and did shut down. So now, for the people who are still here, there's a lot of opportunity."
Challenges: Advantage leases its main building it and has expanded its footprint through an addition it requested and that the building owners paid for; it also has occupied nearby buildings in stages.
"We just keep knocking holes in the walls," Scott says. But such expansion is a challenge. "Dealing with regional, because we're manufacturers, they're very strict."
Opportunities: "We just keep growing the customers we have and getting new customers," Scott says. Aerospace is a new focus for the company, and that is where he sees the biggest opportunity. "The main reason we decided to go into the aerospace-machining field is so we wouldn't have to grow the building, the facilities. I can do a lot more with the machines I have, and machining centers are small; sheet metal is big. The sheet metal takes up so much space. The machining, it's high dollars, small parts. That's what we're going after."
Needs: Scott says good people are the company's biggest need, adding, "The challenge is getting good people who really want to work." Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs "is stepping up with training for this industry: welding, machining," he adds. "The more community colleges can go back to a trade, the better it would probably be for us."