From custom storage racks, platforms, and engineered systems to safety equipment, everything is looking up for Heartland Steel Products
For warehouse operators, the furious push to scale up and safely optimize space to meet the demands brought on by the meteoric rise of e-commerce has no end in sight. Fortunately, the innovators at Heartland Steel Products are bringing creativity to the space race; with the booming warehousing and storage market expected to reach $627.5 billion by 2025, the Marysville, MI, enterprise is delivering imaginative, safety-enhancing turnkey solutions at speed.
The roots of the firm were planted in Flint 68 years ago. Eugene Welding, as it was then known, expanded its scope in 2011, acquiring architectural steel fabricators R.L. Torbeck and Lodi Metal Technologies to become Heartland Steel Products. LFM Capital, a Nashville-based private equity firm focused on financing manufacturing and industrial services companies, added HSP to their portfolio in 2017.
The company manufactures the industry standard SpaceRak line of pallet rack and racking systems, as well as engineered products that include work platforms and mezzanines, stairs, and material handling and storage safety products for the warehousing, retail, e-commerce, distribution, and manufacturing industries. In recent years HSP has built its platform and safety product offerings to become a higher percentage of their overall mix in revenue.
With manufacturing sites in Michigan, Ohio, and California, HSP has approximately 350 employees and is on pace to double their revenue over the next two years.
“Online shopping is still only 17% of all products purchased, which means the warehousing industry will continue to explode for the next decade,” company president and CEO Brian Kaminski told BOSS. “HSP is ready to capture a bigger portion of market share while increasing our earnings as we keep a laser focus on driving high efficiency in our manufacturing sites.”
HSP’s customized solutions enable warehousing, distribution, manufacturing, and storage facilities to safely optimize their costly real estate and maximize proficiency in the areas most important to their success, such as increased order fulfillment rates. As design-build specialists, they bring a number of benefits that fabricators and typical material handling equipment suppliers don’t deliver, including developing fit-for-purpose equipment that meets or exceeds the highest possible industry standards.
Their engineered solutions leverage advanced design technology for fast, accurate structural analysis and load calculations to ensure compliance with stringent safety requirements, including those set by OSHA as well as international building codes.
“We’re under one umbrella for rack, platforms, and safety, which makes us unique,” Kaminski said. “We offer a turnkey solution compared to our competitors, who don’t have the same breadth of product line that we offer.” HSP’s engineering group works extremely closely with integrators and customers to develop solutions that meet or exceed their specific needs. And, they make some of the most user-friendly racking systems, platforms, and safety products on the market. In addition to creating custom safety solutions, HSP keeps a full line of standard safety products such as guard rail, bollards, and rack guards on-site at all times to be ready for fast shipping.
In the search for more usable space, vertical systems are increasing in popularity. HSP systems can be designed to use every vertical inch in a warehouse to increase storage space to the max. “Our customers don’t need as much square footage when dealing with HSP, which reduces their fixed costs and overhead,” he said.
Redefining their engineering practices and standards to design for manufacturability has given HSP a distinct advantage in the market, enabling them to produce at a high level while significantly reducing installation time and slimming the cost to the customer. The approach also makes it easier to source raw material and makes the resulting products easier to manufacture and ship.
The company employs robotic welding to decrease dependence on skilled labor, drive higher efficiency, and improve quality, teaming up with Red-D-Arc, Inc. to implement BotX Welder technology at each of their three manufacturing facilities. “We don’t want the tight labor market to be a constraint on our goals for growth, and this option makes it possible for us to serve all our customers more quickly.”
Guardrails for success
Kaminski joined HSP as President and CEO in June 2021 to lead its current growth journey in the increasingly competitive space. As a management turnaround expert with an enviable track record at several industrial firms, including Whitesell Group, Trico, and Burgaflex, he shared some fortune-changing expertise applicable to any ascending company. “There are a few critical items each company must have if they want to be successful,” he said. Those components are strong leadership, an orientation toward processes, discipline, and a clear understanding of an organization’s vision.
“When a company struggles it’s typically not because of the workforce. It’s due to the leadership team not having clear goals and expectations,” he pointed out. “When I meet with our employees or executives, the focus is always on what we can do to improve our safety, quality, and delivery and exceed our customer’s expectations.”
To that end, the company has developed KPIs to measure every aspect of the business. “We don’t accept mediocrity and complacency isn’t an option,” he stressed. The nature of warehousing infrastructure translates to a lower level of volume compared to companies that make components, so precision in scheduling, bundling, and reducing setup times are essential to remain competitive.
Speed to market is critical, so their efforts are geared toward having the lowest lead times in the market, which will drive higher margins and revenue for the business. “My vision for HSP is to become the industry leader in delivering quality product on-time at a competitive price.”
According to Kaminski, the ability to communicate organizational goals and letting the team know the current issues of the business and the plan to address them is central to transforming any culture. “When I took over HSP, our executive group put a laser focus on the absolutely critical items we had to do for the company to not only survive but thrive in the near future,” he confessed. As a result, the culture is rapidly adapting while quality and efficiency have improved dramatically.
“When leaders make commitments and meet them, employees take note. That, in turn, significantly shows the employees you’re listening to their concerns and addressing them,” he said. HSP’s forward direction is set, and Kaminski is adamant about keeping it blazing ahead. Under LFM’s leadership, the company has increased wages and benefits, and invested in updated equipment to the benefit of HSP’s employees and the stakeholders of the business.
“HSP has a tremendous workforce and with the leadership team we now have in place, our vision for where we expect to go is limitless,” he concluded, emphasizing that HSP is moving full throttle to become the leader in the material handling racking and platform industry. Slowing down is simply not on their timetable. “This train is moving fast, and it won’t stop. We’re in the process of developing new products so we can start eating away at market share in segments we don’t currently play in.”
With a singular passion for quality and smart solutions for the most pressing space management challenges and a design for manufacturability mindset, HSP is on the right track to become the supplier of choice for integrators and warehousing and manufacturing clients of all sizes.
Heartland Steel makes steel racking, platforms, and safety solutions that are easy to use, made to last, and manufactured right here in the United States.
2420 Wills Street
Marysville, MI 48040