Fletcher Industries is wired for industry

Fletcher Industries’ new Southpointe II address meets growing demand for industrial customers

July 14, 2013
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Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter
David Fletcher, owner of Fletcher Industries in Southpointe inside the new conference room that overlooks Southpointe. Order a Print
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Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter
Tom Wertz checks readings on his company’s new control unit before it is shipped out of Fletcher Industries in Southpointe. Order a Print
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Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter
Ryan Ferguson, an electrical engineer, goes over schematics on terminal boxes in PLC control panels at Fletcher Industries in Southpointe. Order a Print
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Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter
Joel Hunter focuses on soldering furnace interface cables at his workstation at Fletcher Industries in Southpointe. Order a Print

The latest building to open in Southpointe II is dedicated to manufacturing, something of an anomaly in the mixed-use park that is skewed toward office space.

But that doesn’t bother David Fletcher, owner of Fletcher Industries, who sees the new site as a strategic location for his work. The company, which specializes in wiring control panels for manufacturers in the United States and other countries, moved into the new 20,000-square-foot site at 200 Woodcliff Drive in February.

As far as Fletcher is concerned, the timing and the locale couldn’t be better.

Prior to getting the keys to his new building, he leased space from Baltec on Technology Drive. Both companies were looking to move out of the building to other sites within Southpointe, Fletcher said, explaining that with his business growing, he liked the idea of working with an architect to create a building specific to his production needs.

He praised the Washington County Chamber of Commerce and the Washington County Authority, which oversees land sales in Southpointe II, with helping him with the site selection.

Fletcher Industries isn’t a high-volume manufacturer, but the control panels it provides are critical to steelmakers, coal mines and anywhere where efficient materials handling is critical for operations.

Fletcher’s work has been in high demand for some time.

“Our sales have been going up every year for the past five years,” said Fletcher, an electrical engineer. “We haven’t slowed down. This is our niche. It’s not a high-volume business.”

Nearly all of Fletcher’s current projects are being done for U.S. companies that are expanding or upgrading their operations.

“Everything in the shop now is mostly domestic,” Fletcher said. “It’s all capital equipment investment. It represents significant investments that [manufacturers] are making in their plants.”

A key feature in Fletcher’s building design is an assembly area for the panels that eliminated center support posts, enabling a much more efficient work flow for projects.

“We designed the building to work for us. It needed to be able to accommodate long and tall panels.”

On a recent day, a dozen electrical technicians were carefully wiring panels that would eventually be placed inside metal cabinets. The attention to detail doesn’t just make for more efficient operations in a plant, but can also help Fletcher Industries sell more projects through its customers.

“These kinds of panels become showpieces for our customers’ customers,” Fletcher said.

When the control panels are completed, Fletcher said, customers arrive at the building to test and verify that the panels perform to their specifications before signing off on their orders, which are then shipped to their destinations.

The additional space Fletcher gained in his new building is also timely for another reason: The extra work he’s been getting has also necessitated hiring more people.

When he moved into the building in February, he brought 13 electrical technicians from the old site, but said he will hire two more within the month.

The new building, which includes a conference room and 2,500 square feet of office space, is also accommodating the local office of Janus Automation, a global company that specializes in electrical system design and industrial information technology systems.

Janus and Fletcher Industries are often partners on projects, so when Fletcher learned that Janus was looking for space for its Pittsburgh staff of five, he offered.

“Sometimes I’m their customer, and sometimes they’re mine,” he said. “We’ve worked so much together in the past.”

Edgardo La Bruna, a partner with Janus, agreed that the arrangement makes sense for the two companies.

“I think it’s a good case of synergies,” he said.

Fletcher added that the work he does includes projects for other nearby companies, making a strong case for his Southpointe address.

“A lot of my customers are right here in the park,” he said.

This article originally appeared in the July edition of Southpointe Today.

Michael Bradwell has been business editor for the Observer-Reporter since 1995, and was named editor of The Energy Report in 2012. He joined the newspaper in 1990 as a general assignment reporter in the Greene County bureau and has also worked as a copy editor. A 1974 graduate of Pennsylvania State University with a degree in English, he began his career at the Bedford (Pa.) Gazette. Prior to joining the O-R, he served as public relations director for Old Bedford Village, account executive at two Pittsburgh public relations agencies and copywriter for the country’s largest wholesaler of mutual funds.

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