Issue #1, 2012: Stecker Machine


Stecker Machine – Quality at Every Turn

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When Jerry Stecker and his brother started Stecker Machine in 1973, it was a far cry from the Stecker Machine of today. In a 24’ x 36’ garage, the brothers opened as a tool and die business with only two employees.

With a focus on quality at every turn, the company’s customer base quickly expanded, and they realized there was potential in production machining. The company subsequently purchased its first CNC machine a few years later, then added others as the company and employee base continued to grow.

In 1984, the company moved its operations to Center Road in Newton … a larger facility that served as its main plant for 17 years. Stecker partnered with A.C.E. to expand five times at that location.

An aerial view of Stecker Machine’s property and their newest building, which is currently under construction.

Jerry’s brother decided to sell out his portion of the company in 1998, and Jerry became the sole owner, continuing down the path of growth Stecker Machine had forged. With a philosophy of doing things right the first time, Jerry attributes the company’s success to his people: “Our strength has always been in machining and in the people we have. We have been able to develop a quality, skilled workforce that knows how to machine and create quality products.”

However, with this continued success came a need for more space, and in 2001, Stecker purchased the building they had been leasing an additional 53,000 square feet of the former Chizek warehouse building just down the road. Several improvements were made to the 110,000-square-foot building to make it an efficient facility for production and office support.

But they didn’t stop growing. In 2008, 39,000 square feet of warehouse/manufacturing space was added. In 2010, a tool crib and plant offices were constructed. Then in 2011, Jerry realized his company needed to once again plan for growth … present and future.

For this project – and several others in Stecker’s history – they turned to a trusted source for their construction needs: A.C.E. Building Service. “I knew Ron Schwalbe for many years,” said Jerry, recalling how the partnership began. “Plus A.C.E. is one of the few contractors locally who does industrial buildings. They have taken care of us through the years and have done a good job, plus their roofs don’t leak.” Jerry is referring to the MR-24 standing seam metal roof system by Butler which covers the majority of his facilities.

This expansion is Stecker Machine’s largest construction project to date – an 81,000-square-foot warehouse/ manufacturing stand-alone facility. The 17.2 acre property held a few challenges that required some strategic thinking. First, the property boundaries are irregular. Second, a good portion of it included wetlands, which were not buildable. So Jerry put his trust in A.C.E. to come up with a plan to expand Stecker Machine that made the most of all available resources and anticipated future expansion.

Jerry simply asked, “How much building can I fit on my new property?” Immediately, A.C.E. went into preliminary design mode and came up with several scenarios that could work for Stecker Machine.
“There was a 20 foot elevation difference from the wet- land area to the property border,” says Doug Schwalbe of A.C.E. “This is good for drainage and locating loading docks, but challenging to create a level area to build on.”

There was a lot of brainstorming time, as well as drawings and designs shared with Stecker Machine. The two collaborated on ideas throughout the design process. “Our approach to design is to work closely with the customer to identify the best possible solution,” said Doug. “We have a lot of ‘head down’ time at A.C.E., looking at it from all perspectives and anticipating any questions. Then we bring our ideas to the entire management team to collaborate on ideas. We find that combining our expertise with their knowledge of the company creates powerful solutions.”

In fact, it was Joel Kaeppler, V.P. of Stecker Machine, who selected the final siting of the new building. A.C.E. presented three main areas that could have served as phase one, and Joel was able to confidently select the one that made the most sense for Stecker Machine. Plans moved quickly from there. Ground- breaking was held in July 2011, with an estimated completion date of February 2012. Once finished, the new facility will:

• Provide expanded storage and assembly area.
• Allow for future expan- sions at both ends of the structure.
• Be flexible enough for Stecker Machine to start machining on-site down the road.
• Provide four loading docks for shipping/receiving.
• Retain and treat storm water run-off before it enters wetlands and surrounding properties.

Plus it will make the most of a piece of property that while challenging, yielded a solution that will allow Stecker Machine to continue to meet current customer needs … and plan for future growth.

A view inside Stecker’s new facility.

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