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: https://www.onealmfgservices.com/

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