Third expansion means more metal, workers

Published 1:13 pm Thursday, October 22, 2009

Many companies have wilted during the dry spell of the national recession, but one Brookhaven business continues to blossom.

Reed’s Metals Inc., a growing metal manufacturing plant on U.S. Highway 84, is undergoing its third expansion project in as many years and will soon pull in more workers, produce more metal and pour more income into Lincoln County.

“My goal is to employ 50 people by the end of next year,” said Bernie Reed, company owner and president. “Once this new building is up, we’ll be able to put on at least 10, 15 more people, hopefully.”

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To expand the facility’s production capabilities and serve its ever-increasing regional market, Reed’s Metals is undergoing a $1.6 million expansion that will add 32,000 square feet of production space and necessitate the hiring of 15 more employees.

The new commercial building fabrication shop will house new metal-producing equipment and a pair of heavy lifting cranes, and will measure 400 feet long by 80 feet wide.

Once completed, Reed’s Metals will be nearly 110,000 square feet.

Reed said the new expansion is being undertaken to allow the company to step up production for its growing markets, which span eight states. The company has recently taken on three new out-of-state salesmen to manage the demand coming primarily out of Mississippi and Louisiana, with growing markets in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

The company is continuing on a 20 percent per year growth rate, Reed said, despite the national economy. He said sales are up in 2009 another 21 percent over 2008, when the company took in $12 million revenue. This year the company intake will edge close to $15 million.

“I can’t understand it, but we’re having a really good year,” Reed said. “We’ve been blessed.”

That year is paying off for the local economy and the 35 employees who work at Reed’s Metals. Reed said the company averages a monthly payroll of around $118,000, and pays out just more than $1.4 million annually.

The reach such numbers, the company had to will itself against making traditional business decisions as the economy and the metal market crumbled.

“We’ve doubled our advertising and took more market share, and we keep our inventory up,” Reed said. “A lot of people cut back on inventory trying to save money, and they cut their advertising. But people who doubled their advertising gained so much more market share.”

And when new customers are attracted to Reed’s Metals, they are served quickly.

Reed has built the company around same-day service, and has the tools to do it. Several of the metal-shaping machines are computer-controlled with continually updated that software that contains the building codes for almost every municipality in the country. The software designs its own construction plans and churns out metal roofs and buildings that will can pass a city inspector’s checklist upon delivery.

“If people want it, they can come get it — we’ve got it,” Reed said. “Now matter how many customers we get, we keep adding machinery to keep same-day service going. It’s been a big part of our success.”

Reed said customers can visit his company unannounced, sit down with a sales rep, place an order and leave with metal in less than one hour.

“Coming in here and getting a custom roof, cut for your house, is just as easy as going to Wal-Mart and getting your grocery list,” he said.

Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Cliff Brumfield said the addition of 15 jobs in the current economy is “outstanding, something any town, big or small, can appreciate.”

“This is an example of how locally owned industry can be the backbone of an improving economy,” he said. “Although the recession is taking its toll on many, there are not only signs of life but prosperity beginning to rise. Reed’s Metals has weathered the storm and is coming out even stronger.”