Growth in Metal Fabrication in Uncertain Times

Weakness in the automotive industry, the natural disaster in Japan, the mortgage crisis and rising fuel costs have all played a large part in the instability of metal fabrication companies around the United States.  For the past 4 years, auctions were held daily for large machine shops, sheet metal fabrication companies and metal stamping companies.  Large corporations like General Motors, Dana Corporation, Caterpillar, Navistar, John Deere, Kubota and others have lost their suppliers because that metal fabricator was focused on a single customer or industry.  When that industry took a major hit the fabricator could not survive the downturn.  Many other corporations are looking at their supply chain and assessing the health and stability of their vendors to ensure that they can deliver quality parts on time and within budgets.  They are also looking to see if their suppliers have the ability to ramp up if the economy picks up and additional demand for their product occurs quickly.

Unfortunately, the last 5 years hasn’t been the only hit on metal fabricators.  The wire fabrication business was hit hard since the mid to late1990’s as more and more companies purchased their wire forming and wire fabrication parts from overseas where cost of production was cheaper.  The same thing happened with metal fabricators who concentrated their efforts in metal stampings.  Buying high volume metal stamped parts from overseas at a reduced cost was the “manufacturing best practice” for the last 20 years.

All these things along with higher taxes, high fuel rates, insurance rates and other things make it difficult for a metal fabricator to stay financially healthy.  Also an aging trained workforce adds complexity for a growing metal fabricator.  Noble Industries has been in business since 1969 and founder Bill Parker has seen many changes in metal fabrication.  He started his career in 1951 as an apprentice for one of the largest tool and die shops in Indianapolis, Ideal Engineering.  He learned much about making dies, molds and machine tools.  He became a skilled craftsman though formal education at Purdue University and hands-on instruction.  Over the next decade, he learned much and became a supervisor, teaching others the tools of the trade.  From Ideal Engineering, Bill went to Dependable Tool and Die where he was the Chief Tool Engineer.  The tool and die industry was Bill Parker’s first experience in a “dying industry”.  Neither company survived the industry changes which was also the outcome of a host of other tool and die shops.  Fortunately, Bill Parker saw his future differently.

Always willing to think “outside the box” and grow, Bill Parker saw the opportunity to start out on his own.  While keeping his day job at Ideal Engineering, Bill started working evenings in a barn in Noblesville with his partner at the time, Ron Edgerly.  He made molds for Field Rubber of Noblesville, IN.  He also started making tooling and molds for Perfecto Manufacturing, Noblesville, IN.  His success as a tool & die maker gave him understanding of metal & metallurgy.  His roots as a first generation American, gave him the willingness and desire to succeed.  He knew he could build a business and in fact he did just that.  His small business in a barn has grown over 42 years into a thriving metal fabrication company.  Bill Parker saw dying industries and swore that he would not allow his company to become extinct due to industry changes.

Due to Bill Parker’s leadership and his ability to communicate to his employees how economic conditions can affect business, Noble Industries has enjoyed growth and success when other metal fabricators have had to close their doors.  In fact, 2012 is Noble Industries’ best year ever.  The company could have grown more this year but didn’t have the extra equipment need.  The belief in our customers and our employees gave us the confidence to step out and invest $2,000,000 in a Mazak FMS Laser Cutting system that will help growth to continue for the next 40 plus years.

To learn more about Noble Industries and the company that should be your first choice in metal fabrication, visit