When it comes to starting up a duct-fabrication business, there are usually two ways to do it.

You can be slow and steady, starting in a small shop with limited equipment and growing as the company receives more orders.

The other option - if you can afford it - is to build a big building, fill it with new equipment and wait for the orders to come in.

That was the business plan for Alliance Supply and Piping, based in Lavonia, Ga. Company officials built a 52,000-square-foot facility off Interstate 85 not far from Atlanta, which just opened in March. They equipped it with more than $1 million worth of equipment: an Iowa Precision coil line with a Whisper-Loc and Cornermatic, a Lockformer Vulcan 1000B plasma cutting system and Vulcan 1600 water-jet insulation-cutting machine, as well as Lockformer roll formers and QuickPen estimating software.



Judy Brock works a Lockformer insulation-cutting machine.

Purchases

Altogether, the company has invested more than $3.5 million in the operation, said Rusty Doss, a partner in Alliance Supply - which likes to go by ASAP.

Most of the equipment was purchased through Mike Bailey, a sales manager for Iowa Precision Industries and the Lockformer Co. based in Atlanta.

“When Rusty contacted me in early January ’06, I was both surprised and very eager to work with this company in implementing his needs for HVAC metal-fabricating equipment,” Bailey said. “His plan was both aggressive and highly marketable. He relayed to me that he wanted to be on the cutting edge of duct fabrication. We spent nine months putting that plan into action.”

“We wanted to have the latest, greatest and state of the art,” Doss said. “We wanted to do it (open the shop) in a grand fashion.”

Doss estimated that the company currently has about 15 employees, but could see ASAP with more.
“We’re probably looking to expand within the very near future,” he said. “We’re probably looking to have 50 employees working in this shop.”

He figured the sheet metal shop takes up about 15,000 square feet in the building, along with another 7,500 square feet for welding, painting and related activities.

“We’re heavily rooted in the mechanical business,” explained Doss. “We want to be able to supply the southern United States out of this location.”

Already, Doss said, the company has shipped ductwork and custom curb orders to Raleigh, N.C., Charleston, S.C., nearby Atlanta and as far as Alabama and Florida. The company is targeting the booming high-rise office, condominium and industrial market.

“It’s wide open,” Doss said of the region’s booming economy. “It’s a great year to start a business.”

For reprints of this article, contact Jill DeVries at (248) 244-1726 or e-mail devriesj@bnpmedia.com.