Trinity Fabricators: An Underdog on the Rise
When looking at Trinity Fabricators, some may wonder how a structural steel fabrication business with a mere nine fabricators produces upwards of 100,000 pounds of steel each day. The answer? Some of the industry’s best technology. Located in the green hills of New Albin, Trinity Fabricators’ success is a testament to the power of technology and positive relationships.
Built on six decades of owner Mike Verdon’s experience in the industry, this underdog business is the result of a string of endeavors. He graduated college with an accounting degree then worked in restaurant management and sold life insurance before being pulled into the world of steel fabrication in 1976.
“I fell in love with using my mind and hands to create a lasting product that’s tangible,” Mike said. “I always tell people that what we do is kind of like playing with Legos on a much larger scale.”
This love, and years of industry connections, led to the creation of Trinity Fabricators in 1995. Since then, the business has quickly grown within the industry. They acquired Des Moines-based David Bear Inc., a provider of construction components, in 2009 and have made huge strides in pursuing the latest technology, an effort that’s more than tripled their sales volume in the last two years.
Their most recent upgrade, a CNC plasma cutter, was purchased with the help of a Technology Investment Program grant, which resulted from the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s (IEDA) Manufacturing 4.0 initiative that seeks to maintain Iowa’s leading position in the industry through the integration of innovative technologies. The state-of-the-art equipment cuts and measures steel plates with high efficiency and precision. In the first two months of implementing it, Trinity saw a 35-40% increase in productivity and exceeded expectations.
With the new technology, Trinity’s fabricators can spend more time focused on doing the skilled work that they do best. Though a small team, the nine employees have helped the company acquire contracts with Kum & Go convenience stores, MidAmerican, CitySquare, Prairie Business Park and Eagle Loft Apartments, to name a few. However, as Trinity’s reputation continues to advance, they join the ranks of businesses seeking new employees.
Just as Trinity’s current employees operate under James Cash Penney’s saying, “It is the service that we are not obliged to provide that people value the most,” Mike operates under another simple concept in expanding his workforce: cultivating strong relationships.
“Find them. Teach them. Challenge them. Reward them,” Mike said. “We currently have a good cross section of hard-working, well-intended individuals and you don’t find that without working at it. From here, we have to be creative and forward thinking."
With a history of involvement in the local school districts, Mike combined his passion for manufacturing with that for education by offering local high school students internships within Trinity Fabricators. Now, three 19-year-olds work at the facility.
One of those students is currently pursuing an Applied Science degree at Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC). Meanwhile, the other two remain in the workshop; one embracing the hands-on challenges on the shop floor, and the other discovering their passion in the office learning about the computer software that combines engineering and architecture to create framework drawings.
“We give them exposure to a field that’s kind of unknown to them. Manufacturing isn’t just manual labor, it’s not a throwback to the industrial revolution. What we do is sophisticated and challenging,” Mike said. “A lot of young people simply don’t know that.”
With a dedicated workforce ranging in age from 19 to 60 and with projects all over the country, Trinity Fabricators’ future remains bright.