Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Holiday Shut Down

Midland will be closed beginning Wednesday, December 23, 2009 for vacations, inventory and maintenance. We will be returning on Monday, January 4, 2010. If you have any immediate concerns you may reach your sales person directly by e-mail or cell phone.

Thank you for your friendship, good will, and loyalty.
May the happiness and good cheer of the holiday season be yours throughout the New Year.
We look forward to working with you in 2010!

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Technology Creates New Opportunity

Midland Metal Products was contacted by the Burt Masonry Company in St. Louis when the owner could not find a local fabricator who could construct a run of large steel fence panels with an intricate custom design. The production run of 9 fence panels measuring 11 feet between mounting points, included a interwoven arch motif that was fabricated to appear as though it were a one-piece casting. Our sophisticated CNC equipment easily accommodated this requirement. The arch motif was programmed and nested using the most advanced CAD/CAM software, so that only a single sheet of 1/2" thick Mild Steel was used to create the components for all 9 of the 11-foot long fence sections. Our 3300 Watt sheet Laser, having a maximum cutting capacity in steel of 7/8", was able to handle the cutting task quickly and easily.

With so many repetitious features in this design, attention to absolute accuracy as well as structural integrity was extremely crucial. A precision welding fixture was built using our CNC router, using a program born from the same exact dimensions and specifications utilized in the laser cutting process, . Careful consideration to advanced fixture-making is critical in establishing perfection in the assembly welding process.

After all assembly welding was completed, the fence sections were sandblasted and powdercoated in three steps to ensure durability. After coating and finishing, the fence panels were packaged for shipment to St. Louis were they were installed at the customer location, anchored to fieldstone piers built by our customer, Burt Masonry.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sustainability: Made in the USA?

The concept of sustainability has captured the attention of the global community. In general, if we support sustainability, we acknowledge that satisfying the needs of the current generation should not impact the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Sustainable practices include efficient use of natural resources, use of renewable energy such as wind and solar power, and reduction of emissions harmful to the atmosphere. Using resources irresponsibly harms our children and our children’s children.

Companies have rushed to support sustainability. In our own industry, Wal-Mart recently announced a major initiative that will measure the full environmental impact of the products its sells in their stores through their “sustainability index.” Their view is that sustainability will become so important to their customers that they will factor this index into their purchasing decisions.

If companies are truly committed to sustainability, they must review their global supply chain to understand the impact their production has on the environment EVERYWHERE. Strict regulations in the US provide basic environmental standards. But as companies span the globe in search of lower manufacturing costs, their foreign suppliers might not be governed by similar regulations. What happens then? It is disingenuous to tout sustainability here at home and then turn a blind eye if foreign suppliers dump raw sewage into foreign streams or release dangerous toxins into the atmosphere.

A sustainability idea that is gaining traction in the agricultural industry is a push for local farming. Supporters believe that we should grow our food close to the markets that consume them. People have a heightened awareness of activities taking place in their own communities. They support fair living and working standards in their own communities and often use local resources more efficiently. Local farming requires fewer additives due to a reduced lag time between production and use. Finally, local farming significantly reduces the resources required to move the goods from producer to the consumer.

In our industry, a similar argument can be made. Instead of local farming, we can support local manufacturing. Many customers are asking their suppliers to demonstrate their sustainability initiatives. Suppliers often point to increased use of recycled materials, decreased use of harmful chemicals in manufacturing, and increased use of renewable energy to power our factories. Why not add local manufacturing to this list? Practices such as producing goods 8,000 miles away in Shenzen, loading them on a gas guzzling freighter, and shipping them over the Pacific Ocean simply can not be considered sustainable. These activities are eliminated by producing close to the home market. Recycling the Made in the USA mantra to support sustainability, wouldn’t Lee Iacocca be proud?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Thank You

During the Thanksgiving season we wish to express our gratitude

for your friendship and good will.

We appreciate your business during this year.


May you enjoy of bountiful Thanksgiving,

a joyous Holiday Season,

and a successful and healthful Happy New Year.


Your Friends at

Midland Metal Products

Hole Guide for Pop Rivets and Semi Tubular Rivets

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Introducing Our New Tube Laser

Our goal at Midland Metal Products is to possess the manufacturing capabilities to produce exactly what our customers want, when they want it, at a price point they can afford. We continuously strive to achieve this goal by simplifying our operations through the use of automation. We have implemented sophisticated CAD / CAM software applications and machinery throughout our plant over the last decade. A partial list of investments include our automated laser system for sheet metal fabrication, our CNC wire bender for wire forming, our CNC robotic welder for mig / tig welding applications, and our CNC grid welder for wire fabrication.

I am proud to announce our next step in creating a factory for the 21st century. In October, our new tube laser system will be operational. This investment will bring automation to our tubing fabrication, a major advancement in terms of throughput, quality assurance, and cycle times. More importantly, it will give us the ability to provide new processing capabilities for our customers. Upon completion of this project, it will be difficult to find a metal fabricator in our industry that can match our capabilities in sheet metal, wire, and tubing fabrication.

Our laser can process 24 ft. lengths of round (0.75” to 6.0” in diameter), square (4” x 4”), and obround tubing. It can also fabricate non-tube profiles such as formed channels. Various materials can be processed including steel, aluminum, and stainless steel. During fabrication, the machine can be used to cut off tubes into smaller pieces and fabricate slots, holes, pie shapes, and fish mouths. Our system eliminates the need for hard tooling, improves accuracy and repeatability, and makes fabrication fast and flexible. Once the designers and engineers at our customers understand the capabilities of the machine, the possibilities are endless.

Once the machine is operational, we will be releasing a video on our web site to demonstrate the machine in action. Before this time, please contact me with any specific questions you may have on the machine. We are really excited about taking this next step. We hope you take advantage of the capabilities in your next project.

Marc McDonald
Midland Metal Products

Do You Want to See What a Tube Laser Can Do?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Weight Guide

Our handy hole guide was so popular last month, we came up with another useful tool. Use this guide to determine the weight of a sheet metal and wire display.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Investing in technology and people

The past few years Midland has invested heavily in technology; bringing greater efficiency and overall capability to our operation. While we realize the value such improvements provide in helping us to meet the needs of our customers, we are committed to not letting the new machinery on our shop floor overshadow our most important resource – the people who work for us.

Two and a half years ago Midland saw the wisdom in creating a Department of Human Resources and in hiring a full-time director to better service the needs and growth of our workforce. Today, while we are happy to retain the dedicated and loyal employees who have been with us for a number of years, we are actively seeking new talent to help prepare us for what we hope will be even better years ahead.

Our most pressing need is that of an East Coast based sales representative to better service existing accounts and eventually expand the East Coast market. Additionally, Midland Metal is searching for candidates for our Junior Designate Program (JDP) - Whereby we will select one or two individuals to learn all aspects of Midland’s operations so that this person(s) will eventually serve a key role in the organization. This will help build Midland’s bench strength.

If any of our readers are aware of someone with P-O-P roots who might be eligible for either position do not hesitate to direct them our way.

As always, we appreciate your commitment and support.


Bill Cox
Director of Human Resources
Midland Metal Products

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Job Fair

Bill Cox, Director of Human Resources at Midland, will be on hand at the Joliet Jr College Job Fair on Tuesday, September 8, 2009.

Hole Guide

This is a handy tool that our sample shop uses to determine hole sizes. It also includes a guide to sheet metal gauges. Click the image for full size, printable document - print it, fold it, and keep it in your pocket.

For your convenience I am including each chart as it's own image.

Steel Pricing - Looking Back and Going Forward

2008 began with a strong global demand for steel and a weak dollar but it climaxed with customers paying more for steel scrap than they had for prime cold-rolled steel just the year before. This disappointing turn of events was due to the global recession and steel producers headed into 2009 hoping they could weather the remainder of the storm.

Early August 2008 saw cold-rolled steel costs up by 72% since December 2007. At this time steel scrap (the most essential input in the production of new steel with the most volatile pricing) was selling for a market price of around $.38/lb; this was more than what Midland Metal Products was paying a year prior for the cold-rolled steel sheets that we process on our laser.

A steel-making ingredient costing more than the finished product had just one year previous is without precedent.

The steel industry, which had been soaring since fourth quarter of 2007, toppled as credit availability became scarce in the wake of crisis in the housing and financial markets.

Due to the country’s financial crisis projects requiring steel slowed significantly. Steel scrap, which had sold for $.38/lb in August, plummeted to $.21/lb in September. Steel prices followed and closed the year at only 11% higher than December 2007. This was down from 72% four months earlier.

In an effort to keep up with demand in the first half of 2008 steel mills ramped-up production - averaging 90% utilization. But when economic growth swiftly declined in late third quarter of 2008 the industry found itself with a surplus of supply and diminished demand. Steel producers spent the fourth quarter of 2008 through the second quarter of 2009 waiting, their equipment idle, for better times. Throughout this period prices kept falling and steel mills saw their utilization drop to an average of 35%.

By June 2009 cold-rolled steel pricing had sunk to levels not seen since early 2004. This did prove to be the bottom as the market began to stabilize. Since June prices climbed quickly by 25%.

Demand for steel, though not robust, does presently exceed supply. This is due largely to the drastic production cuts steel mills had made when the market was in such steep decline. In an effort to keep up with the flow of new orders they are reactivating furnaces and equipment that have sat dormant all year.

Industry analysts expect that cold-rolled steel prices will continue to rise for the remainder of the year. 2009 will probably close 10% to 15% higher than current prices. If their predictions hold true we may head into 2010 with steel costs comparable to those at the start of 2007.

We hope that 2010 will be a stable year in the steel industry. Prices have returned to a level at which steel producers can run profitably without charging exorbitant rates to the distributors or end users. It will be nice if we can stay here for a while.

Aaron Blaisdell
Purchasing Manager

A letter from our Supreme Commander...

Thank you to everyone who read and responded with comments to our inaugural e-mail blast. There are so many things we can talk about from month to month in this space; so many new things are in the works that we want to share with you. Many people have responded to our first email and I think that in very short order we are going to have a very dynamic and active dialogue going here.

We will be updating everyone on the changes we are making at Midland - in new equipment, new personnel, and new ideas. I also want to take some time every so often to jump in and either “stir the pot” or respond to those who have taken the time to offer their two cents.

A few of our customers have, after receiving our last email, gone to our website and checked it out. Our veteran customers will remember our first web site which, for what it was, wasn’t bad. Our new one is so much better! We now have actual, professional managers in house who tend to the site to keep it timely and vital.

Those who did make it to our website saw that, like most other companies, we have published pictures of some of the things with which we have been honored to be involved. Some of you have asked why your projects were not in there. Believe me - we are more than happy to publish our cooperative efforts on our site. So send them in; we can’t have enough!! Email with your photos or just express permission to use photos that we take here.

It has always been my vision for the section of the web site we used to call “the partners page” (now the Portfolio section) to be crammed with as many things as we could get from our customers. To have it become sort of a clearing house for our customer. One thing about our web site is that we are listed under metal manufacturers for the display industry; as a result we get hits from all kinds of national advertisers, and retailers who want to do business with us directly. As many of you know, Midland DOES NOT GO DIRECT. We never have. Our partnership with companies such as yours always made so much sense to us as a simple business model; do what you do, partner with others who are experts in what they do, and the end user will get the best results.

We spend a great deal of time explaining to people that contact us, your potential customers, that they will get the best results from companies such as yours. You pull all the experts together, rely on their years of experience, and your vision for their product, and we are all heroes. The Portfolio section then could be presented geographically, and with links to your companies. So allow us to publish not only your pictures, but also full address, and contact info, along with a link to your web site. What do you think?

Enough for now, those of you who know me know I talk too much. I also write too much. I look forward to your feedback. We will be popping up in your email next month.

Also, a side note: I thought it was great that no one opted to not be contacted again - that’s encouraging. Later!

Bernie McDonald
Supreme Commander - Midland Metal Products

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Belated Introduction to Our Blog

We added this blog to our website a couple of months ago. As it’s growing into a team project here at Midland, and our readership has increased, I thought we should post an introduction and talk for a minute about what this blog is …and more importantly what it isn’t.

We want this to be a place we can communicate with our current customers and where prospective customers can come to get to know us a little bit. Some of what you read here will be very specific to Midland, other entries will be of more general interest…however closely or tangentially related to our jobs here.

What it won’t be is one long spam-fest masquerading as open communication. I resent being subjected to spam and I’m sure you do, too. We want this to be informative and fun and not a self-indulgent tribute to our awesomeness.

That’s not to say I don’t think Midland is an awesome company to work for – I actually do. I’ve worked for companies for whom I’d never have blogged (you know that old saying, “if you don’t have anything nice to say…”)

I was thinking about that the other day. In this economy it’s de rigueur to feel grateful just to be working. I’m lucky – I’m grateful to work here and that’s not a trivial distinction. It’s not a perfect gig – my parking spot is on the banks of Bubbly Creek and once toner leaked all over my desk (what a mess) – we all have our burdens. But I work with talented and amazing people every day and I’ve never once had to choose between my integrity and my paycheck since I signed on with Midland. You can’t beat that.

Let me assure you this will be my one and only entry about blogging itself. Jeff Atwood rails against the concept of
meta-blogging so much better than I, on his website Coding Horror. If you're like me and abhor the concept of blogging about blogging it's a good read.

Jamie Brezinski - Director of IT

Friday, August 7, 2009

Midland News

Midland Metal Products is pleased to announce the release of our new web site WWW.MIDLANDMETALPRODUCTS.COM.

The site offers a fresh, new look at our company including detailed information about our storied 85 year history, our diverse capabilities, and the materials we fabricate. The site also contains a detailed portfolio showing examples of our work and our collaboration with our customers. Finally, the site addresses our sustainability efforts, a topic of constant interest to our customers.

Over the past several years, the point of purchase industry has undergone some dramatic changes. Globalization, retail consolidation, and new technologies have presented every company in this industry with both opportunities and challenges.

To secure our future, we have and will continue to invest heavily in our people, capital equipment, and technology. Although we are proud of our accomplishments, our work is not done. Our loyal customers expect us to provide a quality product, at a competitive price, within an increasingly compressed time frame. We intend to meet and exceed these expectations by improving our company continuously.

The web site presents our story as told today. We will update you with our monthly newsletter and the web site changes as our story of metal fabricating for the 21st Century continues to unfold.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Closing Schedule

Midland Metal Products will be closed for Vacation, Inventory,
and Maintenance June 29 through July 3, 2009.

Inventory begins at 2:30 on Friday, June 26.
We will be back to work as usual on Monday, July 6.

If you have any questions during that time that require immediate
attention please contact your sales person directly.

Have a safe and happy July 4.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Allie and Friends Golf Classic

Midland Metal Products once again took an active role in the 5th annual Ryan Diem's Allie and Friends Golf Classic, which took place on May 4th, 2009 in Chicago and raised over $130,000.

The golf event raises awareness and much needed money for a rare form of pediatric cancer called neuroblastoma. Neuroblastoma is the most common cancer found in infants and the most common extracranial solid tumor found in children. There is very little known about why neuroblastoma occurs, or about what factors increase the risk for occurrence. There is no known cure. Every sixteen hours a child with neuroblastoma dies.

With the help of Chicago native and Indianapolis Colt Ryan Diem, Allie and Friends has been able to raise over $600,000 of funding to support the Children’s Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation based in Bloomingdale, IL.

For more information about the event and the Children's Neuroblastoma Cancer
please check out the website at There are
many different levels of sponsorship available for the 2010 event to take place
next May.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

KidsSTRONG Event

As many of you may be aware - Midland joined forces with Concept Designs earlier in the year on a Wii Lockbox that is currently being installed into many children's hospitals around the country. The first run, with which you all helped, was for 50 units to be tested and then rolled out on a much bigger scale across the country.
"This inaugural effort has been made possible through the generous donations from several corporate sponsors like Midland and its employees. This first set of Lockboxes are being placed at Lucille Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. They allow the children with cancer, who are in forced isolation, to play, get physical exercise, interact, and momentarily take their minds off of the physical and emotional pain of cancer treatment.
Again, your generous work for this effort will be helping children with cancer across the country and we offer our sincere thanks." - Louis Hsaio, Concept Designs.
And below is some reaction from the hospital about how the project has been received.
A six year old boy fighting cancer has not stopped playing with his kidsSTRONG WiiStation since it arrived in his bone marrow transplant “isolation” room last month. His grandmother is enjoying playing games with him too.

This was the story we heard today when we visited a children’s cancer hospital to check in on the kidsSTRONG Wii therapy pilot.

Hospital personnel told us:
➢ The kidsSTRONG WiiStation system is a Godsend!
➢ The systems are easy to install and manage.
➢ These systems really do allow children touched by cancer to be kids first and patients second!
➢ They let them have a normal life again.
➢ Thank you kidsSTRONG!
Thank you all for your work on this project!