Spokane Journal of Business

Sheet-metal fabricator is surging

Sytech’s sales soar tenfold to $8 million this year; work force also expanding

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This year has been a wild ride for Sytech Inc., a 3-year-old Spokane precision sheet-metal fabricator whose sales, employment, and shop size have rocketed ahead in recent months.


The small Spokane Valley company, which primarily serves the electronics and telecommunications industries, had just $800,000 in sales last year and started this year with only eight employees, says Scott Young, Sytechs president and owner, who founded the company in November 1996. Its on track now to ring up $8 million in sales in 2000, and its work force already has grown to 35 people, who work in three shifts each day to keep the shop open 24 hours a day, six days a week.


And were still hiring, Young says, adding that he expects to hire at least 15 more employees this year.


Last month, Sytech, which occupies about 13,000 square feet of space in a small Spokane Valley industrial park at 225 N. Ella, leased another roughly 12,000 square feet of space about a mile away at 525 N. Fancher, Young says. The company plans to move its offices and shipping department into the newly leased space, and will install new painting and powder-coating equipment there. It has been outsourcing the coating of the light-gauge metal cases, cabinets, and other parts it makes for its customers, he says. The new space also will accommodate a clean assembly room where the pieces Sytech cuts, punches, and bends can be assembled if its customers request that service. Sytech will continue to use its current facility for manufacturing.


Young expects the company to double again within the next 18 months the amount of space it will need. He hopes to build or buy a 50,000-square-foot building by then.


Additionally, Sytech plans to spend $750,000 on new equipment this year, Young says. He plans to add two computer-controlled punch presses, which are big machines that punch out round holes, straight lines, and other shapes from a piece of sheet metal using a variety of tools. Sytech already has three punch presses, including one that is completely automated. That press self-loads sheets of metal, follows a computer program to punch out parts, and even can call its operator at home or elsewhere if a problem develops when nobody is near the machine.


Sytechs shop also is equipped with four press breaks, which bend flat sheets of metal to create three-dimensional shapes; three hardware inserters, which drive pins or fasteners into a part; a shear press for cutting large sheets of metal; a device called a grainer that smoothes rough edges and etches a texture into the surface of a metal part for cosmetic reasons and to help coatings stick to the surface; and a welding shop.


The company plans to buy this summer another automated hardware inserter, another press break, a second device for cutting large sheets of metal, and additional welding equipment.


Young describes Sytechs customer demand as a hungry beast and says the company will grow as fast and as much as its customers need.


Young, who has worked in the sheet-metal fabrication trade for 20 years, saw a need for quick, inexpensive production that he asserts was unmet by other fabricators in the Spokane area, so he decided to try to fill that perceived niche. In its first three years, Sytech focused on making small numbersusually between one and several hundredof a metal part quickly and cheaply and built lots of prototypes for companies, Young says.


The company is now in its fourth year, and most of its recent growth has come as products for which it has made prototypes move into production, Young says. While building prototypes, Sytech also was able to build a reputation with its customers, he says. It now usually produces 5,000 to 10,000 of each part it makes.


It has worked with many of its customers for years and gets many of its new projects through referrals from past customers, Young says. He handles sales duties in the Spokane area, and the company also has sales representatives in Portland and Seattle.


Young says the majority of Sytechs business is split evenly between customers in Spokane and Western Washington and Oregon, though it has customers in 15 states. He declines to name any customers, but says many are well-known.

  • Anita Burke

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