Family Matters

All Metals Fabricating
Written by Robert Hoshowsky

In business for almost 70 years, All Metals Fabricating continues to play a key role in American manufacturing. Combining time-tested skills with investments in high-tech equipment, All Metals is one of America’s foremost contract manufacturers and total manufacturing solutions providers, handling sheet metal work, welding, machining, powder coating, electrical mechanical assemblies, and other services.

Working for clients in telecommunications, aerospace and defense, banking and sorting, oil, gas, alternative energy, and other industries, All Metals continues growing while offering the kind of quality, timely service that comes from dealing with a family-owned business.

Lance Thrailkill serves as the company’s Chief Executive Officer, and represents its third generation. Lance put in a few summers at the company during his youth. In 2004, he went on to get his Master’s in Accounting from Southern Methodist University, which benefitted him when he returned to All Metals on a full-time basis. Thrailkill served first as its Controller in 2008 then as Chief Financial Officer through 2018 when he transitioned into his current role as CEO.

Tradition and customer service

Headquartered in the City of Allen – part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area – All Metals Fabricating has been in business since the 1950s. It was bought by Lance’s grandfather William ‘Bill’ Thrailkill in 1978. A year later, he was joined by his son, William ‘Billy’ Thrailkill, Jr., who today serves as President. Steadily acquiring the company from his father since he came on board, Lance is now the majority shareholder.

Although it was already an established business back in 1978, All Metals saw its sales quadruple in the first year of Thrailkill family ownership. Over the past four decades, the company has maintained its core values of: We Care More!, Whatever it Takes!, Relentless Pursuit of Excellence, Innovation, and Integrity.

In the early days, All Metals made metal housing for exterior drive-up banking equipment, and the company still services that customer today. With the telecom boom in the Dallas area throughout the eighties and nineties, All Metals grew by riding that wave. By 2000, the bubble burst, and All Metals’ sales went down over 40 percent in just one year. “After that, we began actively diversifying, and now we serve every industry,” says Thrailkill.

While telecom still represents about 30 percent of the company’s work, other sectors include Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), alternative energy, medical, aerospace, oil, and gas. Banking equipment remains a significant source of revenue for the company, which makes metal housings and cash processing equipment for international federal reserves’ counting and sorting bills and checking for counterfeits. “We make all the subassemblies for them, and all their metal parts,” states Thrailkill, “for both sides of banking: federal and retail.”

One-stop shop

With 68 employees, a massive 86,000-square-foot facility, and the latest state-of-the-art technologies, All Metals is truly a one-stop shop. With its experienced team, the company supports clients from early design concepts and prototyping through to production, finishing, assembly, and anything else required.

To provide the best quality products in sheet metal fabricating, machining, welding, electro-mechanical assembly, and powder coating, All Metals continues investing in the most state-of-the-art equipment and machinery. Services include engineering/design, laser cutting, tube laser, punching, forming, machining, graining/deburring, welding, roll forming, powder coating, electrical wiring, quality control and more.

Working through the pandemic

Deemed an essential business during the COVID-19 pandemic, All Metals ensured the safety of its workers and customers from the beginning, and provided hazard pay. This included the entire building being sanitized nightly for three months and – to keep the risk of exposure down – All Metals brought in lunch for two months for everybody and paid for it so they didn’t have to leave. “We actually gave everybody the option of taking two weeks of paid leave from the government, and only a few people took it, while everybody else kept working,” says Thrailkill. The only reason a few staff accepted paid leave was because they were Dallas-area residents who thought they could have been arrested if they were seen out driving during lockdown.

Realizing many of the men and women who work for All Metals have their own families, the company allows its dedicated people the option of working up to 20 hours of overtime (60 hours a week total), to make ends meet. “Most people would probably think, ‘You’re making less money as a company,’ or ‘That’s not sustainable,’ but what we find is, they’re not factoring in the costs of hiring, layoffs, and taxes that come with turnover,” states Thrailkill. “That’s not why we do it; why we do it is because we want to provide a better life for our employees, because our employees are our number one priority. If we take care of our employees in a radical way, then they take care of our customers in a radical way and put the company first. It’s this whole mindset: we put our people first, and our people put our customers first. That really proved true through COVID when everybody chose to keep working, even when offered the paid leave.”

Even though sales went down for a time during COVID because some customers had to close operations, All Metals was able to pivot, and did some marketing on LinkedIn. One company contacted them urgently needing sanitizing carts. The challenge was, the company’s carts were injection molded plastic, and came from China, making it impossible to receive them in time. “We re-designed the carts to be made from sheet metal and we made about 5,000 of them for this new customer. In the end, our 2020 sales nearly totaled our 2019 sales.”

Investing in the future

In the past five years, one of All Metals’ main points of focus has been automation. “Our 10-year goal is to be the most automated and best job shop in the world,” says Thrailkill. “We spent about $5 million in the last six years on automated equipment, and we are in development for another $5 million to $7 million investment in the next two to three years on even more automation. We are marching rapidly toward this goal, and we won’t stop until we get there. We are automating our departments and our processes. Every department from front office to back office either already has or will have automation built into their processes.”

To help reach its automation goals, All Metals joined forces with Paperless Parts, which is behind advanced estimating and quoting software for the manufacturing sector. This has enabled All Metals to use sophisticated software that quotes parts incredibly quickly, unfolds parts, and has all cutting parameters for lasers and punches. “It basically quotes the part for you once you input what type of material it is along with the type of manufacturing process, finish, and quantity – and will fill in the quote in less than a minute. It is remarkable software, and it also allows our customers to do it on our portal and upload the parts while the quote is being built in the background without us doing anything.”

Once the quote is complete, staff verify it and can further process the order if necessary. This is fully integrated with the company’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, which works seamlessly with the scheduler. Other automation being embraced by the company includes machine monitoring software with measures utilization rates, which further increases efficiencies. Every Monday morning, every department lead gets a four-week snapshot of how their department performed that week compared to the previous three weeks on the utilization rates of every machine in their department. They can also log downtime, so when a machine isn’t running for 15 minutes, staff can look at trends and track data to see how to reduce downtime.

Even with technology on its side, the company still believes in supporting its loyal, experienced staff in any way possible, and in putting its people first. “By putting our people first – even before ourselves as leaders in the company – this means you have a much happier workforce who, in turn, also wants to put the company first,” states Thrailkill. “In a world where the bottom dollar is all that matters and layoffs are so common, if you really put your people first, nothing is more impactful to the bottom line than that. We’ve only had one layoff in 45 years of my family owning All Metals Fabricating, and we are very fortunate and proud to have that accomplishment.”

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