Chairman of the Board
Texas ProFab Corp.
First Vice Chairman
Second Vice Chairman
William “Jeff” Jeffery
Ohio Laser LLC
Chairman of the Board
Al Zelt, ASKO Inc
Rick J. Hargrove
Steel & Pipe Supply Co. Inc.,
Storage & Processors
Kawasaki Motors Mfg. Corp. USA
Amada America Inc.
MC Machinery Systems/
Briggs & Stratton Product Group
Industrias Selbor SA de CV
Valley Iron Inc.
Airgas USA LLC
Form Tech Concrete Forms
President & CEO
Fabricators & Manufacturers
FMA’S CERTIFIED EDUCATION CENTERS
FMA Certified Education Centers (CEC) are community
and technical colleges, trade schools, and universities
that specialize in training adults for careers in the metal
forming, fabricating, processing, and machining sectors.
They offer coursework for local students year-round and
serve as host locations for many types of FMA professional
development programs as requested. A council of
members convene six times a year to plan and execute
special programs on worker training for educators and
human resource managers from companies of all sizes.
To learn more about FMA’s CEC program and view a list
of the current member schools, visit www.fmanet.org/
To discover how your local community or technical college
can become a member, call 888-394-4362 or send an
email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
FROM THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Read more from Dan Davis at www.thefabricator.com/author/dan-davis
This might be an odd time to be writing about a company’s commitment to renew- able energy in light of a U.S. political climate in which it is in fashion to question the link
between the use of fossil fuels and global warming
and President Donald Trump wants to revitalize
the coal industry, but sometimes you see the light.
In this case, it was sunlight.
More specifically, it was the sun’s reflection off 1,320 solar panels, made in Detroit, in a
70,000-square-foot fenced-off field in the back of
Cres Cor’s Mentor, Ohio, headquarters. As a participant in The FABRICATOR’s 2017 Technology Summit
in October, which included tours of seven Cleve-land-area shops, I visited Cres Cor, a maker of commercial warming cabinets, ovens, racks, dollies, and
other products for the food service industry.
Steve Mayher, chief financial officer, said the
company made the commitment to install the solar
field after a product launch aimed to help the food
service industry get “off the grid.” The HotCube3 in-door/outdoor hot cabinet runs on standard 120-V
electricity, but also runs on propane so that it can
be unplugged and used in remote locations, such
as a wedding in a park or a large tailgating event in
the middle of a college campus. Solar panels can
be added to the cabinet design for optimal heating
control when no electrical outlets are near.
With the push to embrace a renewable energy
source for one of its products, Mayher said company management wanted to change the way it was
powering its manufacturing operations. That led to
an investigation of solar power and, ultimately, a
$1 million investment to make it a reality. The solar
panel field went live in July 2016.
Mayher admitted that a federal tax credit in 2016
helped to make the installation decision a bit more
palatable, but the long-term results will ultimately
be the real prize. Right now the solar panels are
able to generate about 40 percent of the company’s overall energy needs. The annual energy savings is roughly equal to the annual cost to finance
the project, he said. After 10 years, however, the financing will be complete, and that 40 percent savings will drop directly to the bottom line.
“It’s performed as it was supposed to. Everyone
is pleased with how it turned out,” Mayher said.
Cres Cor has a bidirectional power meter that
actually runs backward when the company is producing more energy than it is using. This is particularly evident on weekend shifts when not all of the
equipment is running and most of the facility is unoccupied. In fact, one of the pieces of equipment
running is a Mitsubishi 4-k W laser with automated
load/unload capabilities, meaning it can produce
parts without an operator.
So that leaves some basic questions from fabricators and trade journalists:
• Do you have to clean the panels, such as when
snow gets on them? Mayher said that they haven’t
had to clear off a single panel yet. Snow has melted
off, and there are not a ton of trees around the installation (although city planners initially wanted
the company to plant bushes around the installation).
• Are the panels constantly moving to follow the
sun’s daily migration in the sky? The panels actually move only a couple times per day, in the morning and the afternoon.
• What happens on cloudy days? The amount
of energy collected depends on the density of the
clouds. It is greatly diminished on cloudy days compared to sunny days, but the panels still are in the
Cres Cor configured the setup of the solar panel
field and the energy-transfer system so that it could
be more easily moved and placed on the roof of a
possible future expansion. The solar panels are a
permanent part of Cres Cor’s corporate profile.
This type of move doesn’t ensure Cres Cor’s future
success; its new products and attention to customer
demands will provide for that. The solar panels,
however, are a good example of how this company
is looking ahead and committing to an investment
that makes future financial sense and makes people
feel good at the same time.
It’s also a reminder that its hard, if not impossible, to stop major economic shifts. The International Energy Agency calls solar power the fastest-growing source of global energy and believes it has
the chance to overtake all other forms of energy.
Obviously, China is playing a large part in this shift,
accounting for almost half of all new solar panels
installed worldwide. Other countries, such as India,
are expected to experience their own solar booms
in the coming years.
So if the politics of renewable energy bug you, I
understand. But also understand that this market
is going to grow with or without the involvement
of U.S. companies. It’d be nice for U.S. metal fabricators to share some of the limelight of this robust
The sunny side of energy savings
A manufacturer of commercial warming cabinets and ovens
puts its money where its commitments are