UPI Manufacturing, Eagle, Wis., began with a noble thought: How can a company help out U.S. soldiers? The most obvious answer was to start manufacturing to support the war effort. So in 2003 the Dretzka family, who ran Underground Pipeline Inc., jumped into the metal manufacturing business. Since then, it's been a fast ride as the business has expanded.
In the years 2006-2009, UPI was honored with Supplier Excellence Gold Awards from the Defense Supply Center and named Innovative Business Performer of the Year by the Defense Logistics Agency. UPI is now a multimillion dollar business with 65 employees. On Nov. 1, the company hosted an open house to mark the expansion of the building it's been in since 2007; UPI added 36,000 sq. ft., which includes three bays, to its 24,000-sq.-ft. headquarters.
The interesting thing about UPI's skyrocketing growth is that the company really wasn't heavily involved in metal fabricating. It was doing mostly machining work prior to 2010. (The company currently has three vertical machining centers, two horizontal machining centers, and a CNC lathe.) At that time it invested in its first 90,000-PSI Flow waterjet table, which happened to have two cutting beds, allowing one to be loaded while cutting takes place on the other bed. Welding was soon added as the company was bringing in more armor plate work. Today the company has 10 AWS-certified welders capable of working with armor plate, stainless steel, mild steel, and aluminum. (more...)