Wheels of Fortune For a Florida Coater
Once a supplier to international companies, a Florida manufacturer now makes and coats its own aftermarket wheels after it discovered that 80 percent of the aftermarket wheel manufacturing business that used to be done in the U.S. is done overseas, and often not very well.
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When Stiefel Aluminum, a smelter located just north of Tampa, noticed it was shipping more and more aluminum to other parts of the world for production of aftermarket wheels, it also sensed a void in that manufacturing process here in the U.S.
When the company dug deeper, it discovered that 80 percent of the aftermarket wheel manufacturing business used to be done in the U.S., but now that 80 percent is done overseas, and often not very well.
That number led Stiefel late in 2012 to launch SB Manufacturing in Dade City, Fla., an operation that is now in full production with a goal of producing more than one million wheels per year. Besides die-casting, machining and heat-treating the wheels, SB also has complete powder and waterborne liquid finishing lines that enable it to be a completely vertically integrated manufacturer.
“We’re going to be running 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” says Phil Tolsma, finishing manager for SB. “Our business is really going to boom, because our customers were just really tired of buying Chinese scrap.”