Considering last year's election season, how many times did we hear the expression that "Small business is the backbone of our economy"?
Traditionally, small businesses have their roots where the founders have exhibited ambition and risk taking coupled with hard work to create a new company. Most would agree that this is the formula that is the bread and butter of our economic growth.
Both Jack and Bob Florig filled this mold as they were two aggressive brothers in their late twenties in 1974 who felt they could create something from scratch. Employing the use of two 10 year-old pickup trucks and a welder they founded R. J. Florig Company located in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.
They started this business performing general miscellaneous fabrication with an emphasis on plate work all in a small shop of only 1,000 square feet. In four years they were able to grow to the point that they could afford to move into a 10,000 square foot facility where they had enough room to get a plate shear and press brake which they needed to expand their capabilities. Without much startup capital, they managed to buy a used brake and shear for $3,500 with the seller giving them terms.
The business hit what seemed by comparison to be the big time in 1984 when they were able to move into a 52,000 square foot facility along the Schuylkill River. The building price was attractive as it would routinely flood when the river overflowed its banks. Bob came up with the idea that they would raise the floor by 3 ft. to minimize the risk which helped greatly, but they still experienced on two occasions when there was up to 8 ft. of water in their shop.
This additional space enabled them to really start to expand the business with their first two major accounts - the Alan Wood steel mill and Leonard Kunkin & Associates which was a structural steel fabricator.
Using these two major clients as a foothold, they expanded their business into the area of plant maintenance and job shop fabrication. In 2006 they moved into their current facility to expand their product emphasis to include conveyor systems, sign supports, canopies and high-end architectural stairways like of which they have supplied to remote locations such as the City Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
A few years ago they attended the FabTech Show in Chicago with the idea they needed to update their capabilities. Over time the management team looked at different alternatives but ultimately decided 'the biggest bang for the buck' would be to invest in plate fabrication capability to enhance their competitive advantage.
Understanding what their clients were requesting, they decided to focus their investigation towards CNC plate fabrication systems that were not only able to cut with plasma both straight and at programmable bevels for weld prep but also with machining capability to address those applications requiring drilling, milling, tapping, countersinking, counterboring and marking.
"One of the main reasons that we invested with FICEP was the dual bridge design of the FICEP Gemini with its sub axis and integrated plate clamping system. This gave us additional machining flexibility and a productivity advantage as we did not always have to unclamp and re-clamp or reposition the bridge when going from one location to the next for drilling or machining."