Author: Isabel Creveling

High-Wire Act


As seen in the April 2019 Issue of FF Journal: President and COO Holman Head and President and CEO Kent Brown took time to sit down with the FF Journal to talk about the history of the O’Neal companies as well as their formation of O’Neal Manufacturing Services (OMS) and the difference between O’Neal Steel (ONS).

Value-Added Services:

O’Neal Industries (ONI) is the nation’s largest family owned full-line metals service center. O’Neal Industries-parent of Leeco Steel, O’Neal Manufacturing Services, O’Neal Steel, TW Metals and United Performance Metals- was formed to better support overall growth. Kirkman O’Neal borrowed $2,000 and founded his company in 1921 as a small steel fabrication shop. Today, ONI now employs more than 3,000 people in 70 locations in North America, Europe, and Asia. The Great Recession prompted O’Neal Industries to re-examine its business model.

“We felt it was time to figure out how to split up tasks, equipment and personnel,” Head says. The “division of property” created a shopping list for O’Neal Industries. The company needed to beef up the skill sets of its people. “We needed equipment like plasma and laser cutting, machining centers and robotic welding. We also examined throughput and identified a fundamental difference between distribution and fabrication. O’Neal Manufacturing Services, for example, is more capital-intensive in terms of equipment and labor, versus O’Neal Steel, which is capital-intensive in terms of inventory.”

The Start of OMS:

In 2011, ONI created O’Neal Manufacturing Services as a freestanding business unit. It supplies fabricated metal components and welded assemblies to equipment manufacturers around the world. It punches, forms, machines and welds components. The company provides plasma, laser and oxyfuel cutting as well as precision leveling, kitting and assembly. It serves as an extension of each customer’s business by “providing a complete supply chain solution.” OMS’s niche is high-volume, large orders for heavy plate up to 6-in thick, primarily for the heavy manufacturing, material handling and construction equipment markets.

President and CEO Kent Brown of OMS says, “We focus on multi-step processes. We want to machine it, form it and weld it. The more value we can add, the better. O’Neal Steel or Leeco will sell you a truckload of steel, we don’t do that. We provide a finished assembly or parts for an end product. The ability to perform up to four-step processing frees up floor space for the manufacturer and allows them to focus on the final product.”

Since the beginning O’Neal Manufacturing Services has grown by leaps and bounds. It has facilities in seven locations, including Mexico. “The foundational reason for opening the fabrication arm is tied to O’Neal Industries’ long-standing culture of family values. The key driver was to strengthen relationships with our customers and not just be sen as a steel distribution company,” Kent Brown says. “Adding fabrication steps [and] meeting tighter tolerances moves you into a closer partnership with your customer. We have developed a symbiotic relationship with OEMs. we’re making parts so they can get finished assemblies out the door.”

For more information about OMS’s history, culture, and capabilities, please visit:

Let’s Build Things!


Valentine’s Day Giving

No matter your feelings for February 14th, most everyone can agree they love receiving a sweet Valentine’s Day card. This year, in addition to sharing the love with family and friends, why not make some Valentine’s Cards for kids in the hospital ?

In honor of the big day, children’s hospitals all over the country are holding Valentine Drives where anyone can send a free digital valentine to a patient. Each hospital has their own designs- many of which are designed by patients- and are such an easy way to brighten up a patient’s day!

So take a moment and visit one of the websites below and make a child’s Valentines Day more special!

OMS: What We’re Made Of #LetsBuildThings

Strategic Manufacturing Support

  • Project Management that Delivers Beyond Capacity & Capability- At O’Neal Manufacturing Services (OMS) you will have a supply chain partner working to strategically reduce your company’s total manufacturing costs and deliver high-quality products when scheduled. Some of our services include: a process-driven manufacturing culture, reinvestment in technologically-advanced equipment, and Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP).


  • Support-Focused Manufacturing as an Extension of Your Business: OMS has earned our reputation as a leading manufacturer of fabricated metal components and welded sub-assemblies by contributing to our customers’ product and supply chain requirements. Our industry expertise and automated manufacturing processes allows us to fabricate high quality components and products efficiently, saving costs and ensuring timely delivery. Our project management capabilities include: engineering assistance on new product development, management and tracking of our production process, as well as reporting and communication to ensure our clients that OMS is fully integrated into their supply chain management process.


  • Strategic Risk Management: Disruptions in the supply chain can affect your sleep schedule, and worse yet, bring your production to a halt. OMS offers strong continuity plans to mitigate risks and eliminate supply chain disruptions. With multiple strategically- located, North American manufacturing plants, quality production are supported through manufacturing redundancy. By developing business continuity plans that support value-added collaboration and sustainability in the supply relationship, OMS brings significant value to strategic sourcing and procurement throughout the part life cycle.
To learn more about what OMS is capable of please visit:



YEP Lights Partners with OMS in Cedar Falls, Iowa

Cedar Falls, Iowa. (December 17, 2018) Roger Blakesley is the owner and operator of Yard Engineered Products in Iowa and when the economy crashed he came up with the idea of producing an outdoor lighting product for homeowners that would reflect their own interests and aesthetics.  The main goal was to take his daughters artwork, wrap the designs around a strong tube that is laser cut so that the image shines through in the evening.

Sourced Locally:

Yep Lights went with a metal processor close to home to take on it’s new product. It just so happened that Roger Blakesley has worked at O’Neal Manufacturing Services (OMS) for 28 years. OMS who is a supplier of fabricated components and welded assemblies runs an industrial- scale laser cutting operation in Cedar Falls. Describing the process Blakesley states, “OMS takes our artwork and puts it into a usable format and program so it can be produced on their tube laser.” Along with that, the top of the tube is cut to accept the solar light and the bottom of the tube is cut to create steaks. Yep Lights does production runs at OMS every couple of months.

The Process: 

In producing a new design, “we bring in a hand drawn picture of the artwork we want.” Everything goes through the OMS sales department. The drawing goes to the engineering department, and an engineer looks over the artwork. Sean Alexander, Account Manager at OMS handles the Yep Lights account. He sums up the production process by saying, “on a new design, they will give us the artwork and we digitize that into CAD models, view it electronically and program it, then quote total cut time for the material.” Sean also manages any repeat orders, and conducts price reviews as they move through material pricing, and produce new quotes as designs change. He adds that, “Yep Lights purchase the raw material through us, too. Our supply chain team takes care of all those orders.”


For more about this article and how OMS helped Roger Blakesley achieve his dream, visit:


Appointment of New General Manager for O’Neal Manufacturing Services – Louisville, KY

Birmingham, AL. (December 10, 2018) – O’Neal Manufacturing Services (OMS) is pleased to announce the promotion of James Oliveira to the position of General Manager of the O’Neal Manufacturing Services location in Louisville, KY.

Oliveira started his career as an intern with O’Neal Steel in 2007, and he has held several positions of increasing responsibility since joining the corporation. Oliveira’s most recent position was as the OMS Director of Sales and Marketing. He led the development and creation of the new OMS website and the OMS online marketing strategies. Oliveira was instrumental in finding and developing several large new customers in 2017 and 2018. James has a great understanding of our people, systems, and processes. His creativity, enthusiasm, knowledge, and energy will serve him well in Louisville.

“Having worked closely with James this past year, I have been able to witness his limitless energy and passion for what we do at OMS. He has all of the skills to be an outstanding GM for Louisville.”, said Kent Brown, President and CEO of OMS.

Oliveira is a native of Springville, Alabama and received his B.S. in Industrial Distribution from the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB). He is currently pursuing an MBA from UAB. James, his wife Brianna, and their 1 year old son Paxton will be relocating to Louisville from Springville in 2019.


About O’Neal Manufacturing Services
O’Neal Manufacturing Services (OMS), an O’Neal Industries affiliate company, is a supplier of fabricated metal components and welded assemblies. OMS provides highly integrated, comprehensive manufacturing solutions to customers who build equipment and manage projects – ranging from locomotives to forklifts and bulldozers to power generation equipment. Founded in 1921, OMS contract metal fabrication offerings include steel fabrication, tube processing, plasma cutting & laser cutting, metal forming, welding, machining and more to support global OEMs in North America.

About O’Neal Industries
O’Neal Industries (ONI) is the largest family-owned group of metals service centers in the United States. Composed of six leading brands and generating sales of $2.2 billion in 2017, ONI is based in Birmingham, Alabama, and has more than 80 specialized facilities throughout North America, Europe and Asia. For more information, visit

O’Neal Industries Makes Transformative Gift to UAB Comprehensive Center

BIRMINGHAM, AL. (December 5, 2018) — O’Neal Industries (ONI) and its shareholders are pleased to announce that they have made a commitment of $30 million to name the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Comprehensive Cancer Center. This gift will enable the Cancer Center to impact the lives of more patients and families than ever through leading-edge research, patient care, education and prevention, and outreach to the region’s most underserved communities. It will strengthen clinical operations, accelerate research and translation of discoveries into clinical trials, enhance recruiting efforts, increase the breadth and depth of UAB programs, and dramatically advance UAB’s mission to eliminate cancer as a major public health problem, locally and globally.

“The O’Neal family has built a legacy in Birmingham, first in the city’s steel industry and now in the city’s future as a biomedical and technology hub,” said Ray L. Watts, M.D., president of UAB. “UAB’s National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center is among the pre-eminent cancer centers in the world, and we are proud and grateful that our cancer center will bear the O’Neal name.”

“We see this gift as an opportunity to give back in a meaningful way to a cause that is important to everyone,” said Craft O’Neal, chairman and CEO of O’Neal Industries and grandson of Kirkman. “We hope the gift will be used in ways that will yield the greatest results, accelerating progress in research, treatment and prevention of cancer and, ultimately, eliminate cancer as a major public health problem.” “This gift would not be possible without the success of our company, which is due to the contributions of three generations of dedicated employees, loyal customers and supportive supplier partners from around the world, over our nearly 100-year history, who have contributed in positioning us to make this gift,” said O’Neal.
The center will be renamed the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB after it has been formally accepted by The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees at its February meeting.


About O’Neal Industries

O’Neal Industries (ONI) is the largest family-owned network of metals service centers and component manufacturers in the United States. Composed of six leading brands and generating sales of $2.6 billion in 2018, ONI is based in Birmingham, Alabama, and has more than 80 specialized facilities throughout North America, Europe and Asia. For more information, visit


About UAB

Known for its innovative and interdisciplinary approach to education at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, the University of Alabama at Birmingham is an internationally renowned research university and academic medical center, as well as Alabama’s largest employer, with some 23,000 employees, and has an annual economic impact exceeding $7 billion on the state. The pillars of UAB’s mission include education, research, innovation and economic development, community engagement, and patient care. The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center is among the 49 cancer centers in the nation to meet the stringent criteria for the National Cancer Institute’s comprehensive designation. The center is a leader in groundbreaking research, reducing cancer disparities and leading-edge patient care. Learn more at

Facility Spotlight: OMS Pittsburgh

Check out this week’s “Facility Spotlight” on our Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania plant! This facility first opened in 1993 as a part of O’Neal Steel and separated from ONS in 2011, becoming an O’Neal Manufacturing Services plant.

General Manager, Gus Cassida, has been working for our company for 22 years now. When asked what makes Pittsburgh unique, he states that the facility handles big machining and forming by formulating a strategic approach to attacking large, difficult parts.

As our most eastern location, Pittsburgh specializes in many industries including mobile cranes, aerial work platforms, rail car, and bridge. Cassida shared that Pittsburgh excels in maintaining continuity with sales while also making smart decisions for the company.


Facility Spotlight: OMS Indianapolis

We are continuing with our “Facility Spotlights” today, focusing on our Indianapolis, Indiana facility!

Federico Fraga, General Manager for O’Neal Manufacturing Services (OMS) in Indianapolis, IN, has been working with OMS for 14 years. He shared that OMS Indianapolis’ top priorities are safety, quality, and delivery. This facility specializes in many industries including Energy, Elevators, Construction, and Agriculture. Federico expressed that one of Indy’s strengths is having a very diverse workforce, from tenured employees with 40 + years of experience to new employees that bring fresh ideas to the team. This has allowed the facility to become a learning organization that values team work, continuous improvement and employee participation as cornerstone of our culture.

Brent Wilson, OMS Sales Manager, is in his 4th month with the company. Just in the few short month’s Brent instantly picked up on the passion from Indy’s employees, very appreciated by the customers. OMS Indianapolis takes pride in connecting with customers, so much so that people have started recommending OMS services to other customers in need.

When asked where the future of Indianapolis is going, Federico believes that we will achieve “world-class operation excellence” that will allow continuous growth with current and new customers.


Facility Spotlight: OMS Louisville

Stay up-to-date on our Louisville plant with this week’s “Facility Spotlight.”

While some of our other facilities may specialize in select industries, Louisville serves a variety including material handling, aerial lift, heavy rail, heat transfer, and ancillary rail.

Kevin Hauntz, OMS Sales Manager of 30 years, shared many highlights regarding our Louisville facility. He began by stating “Diversification is our niche,” meaning that the facility excels in many different areas.

When asked what makes Louisville unique, Hauntz shares that this facility has an “extremely experienced workforce,” with many tenured employees, all with above average knowledge when dealing with complex metal fabrication. He also stressed that Louisville really “runs the gamut by design.”

Set in the largest city in Kentucky, our Louisville plant has been located in a 125,000-square foot facility since around the 1980s. 


Facility Spotlight: OMS Houston

We are excited to share another “Facility Spotlight” post on our Houston, Texas facility.

George Torres, OMS Account Manager, went into detail of milestones Houston has experienced in the past few months. Since Torres joined the OMS team two years ago, our Houston facility has transitioned from the original location, which opened back in 1988, to a new plant that they moved into February 2018 . He shared many benefits regarding the move, stating that “The new warehouse is laid out more efficiently, causing workflow and moral to improve as a result.”

Additionally, Houston is currently implementing a paint booth. By adding a paint booth, Houston has been able to pursue new business and pick up new accounts. Weldments that require painting can now be done in house and will no longer have to be done separately.

When asked what makes Houston unique, Eric Simpson, OMS Sales Manager, states that “Houston is right in the center of a huge amount of energy, rail, heavy equipment, and general fabrication manufacturers and contractors.” Simpson believes Houston’s greatest strength is “working out exceptionally cost-effective solutions for customer needs” not only in Texas, but in surrounding states as well.

Stay up-to-date on our other five facilities in the upcoming weeks as we share more “Facility Spotlight” posts.