In the summer of 1990 Prototech Laser was a modest upstart without a lot of fanfare. The company began in a 6,000 square foot building with one laser and two employees. It has grown to 60,000 square feet, 15 lasers and 75 employees during its peak.
“We’ve seen a lot of ups and downs over the years”, says President Ed Genord. “In the 30 years we’ve been in business, many transformations have taken place.” The company started with one laser and grew to a total of 15 lasers during the Iraq/Afghanistan War. During this period, Prototech Laser grew quickly, however it wasn’t always smooth sailing.
As the 20th Century ended and the 21st Century began many changes started to take place in the automotive industry. Most notably, the auto companies started to create many of their prototype vehicles virtually on the computer instead of creating actual vehicle parts for test and build. That hurt the entire prototype industry which is where much of Prototech’s business came from.
“Many prototype companies went out of business at the time which just happened to be our customers”, declares Genord. If that wasn’t enough, many of Prototech’s remaining customers purchased their own laser equipment which significantly strangled the business. “We actually came pretty close to going out of business. It was a scary time for us.” Prototech needed to make changes and make them quickly if they wanted to continue to exist. And change they did.
“The first move we made”, states Genord, “was to add ancillary operations. At the time we were solely a laser cutting service company which wasn’t going to suffice any longer. We added metal forming, Mig and TIG welding, and assembly operations. We also purchased a CNC machining company which fit very nicely into our offering. We needed to be a full-fledged metal fabricating company in order to continue to compete in the marketplace. “Much of the credit goes to our employees who were very flexible during this transition.” asserts Genord.
The company went from operating virtually 100 percent in the automotive space to just 20 percent in a matter of a few years. Eighty percent of their business was now non-automotive with much of it going to the defense sector. “We made a significant marketing push toward the defense sector since our manufacturing expertise fit pretty nicely within this industry”, states Steve Prue the company’s CEO.
The timing could not have been more perfect with 911 on the horizon. At it’s peak, Prototech was metal processing over one million pounds of military grade armor per month. Operations included, laser cutting, metal forming, welding, machining and assembly.
“We went from famine to feast, operating 24/7 for a few years. It was both a challenging and rewarding time in our company’s history.”, proclaims Prue.
After 30 years in operation, Prototech Laser located in Chesterfield MI has settled into a more diversified customer base and has become a national leader in the industry. The company proudly operates in several industries including, the aforementioned auto and defense sectors as well as agriculture, aerospace, heavy equipment, specialty vehicles and the rapidly growing transportation industry. Prototech is a classic example of the old adage, If you’re not changing your dying. With this companywide mindset and the continued flexibility of the company’s workforce, Prototech hopes to be around for another 30 years.
If you have questions regarding our laser cutting and metal fabrication services call us at 586-598-6900 to speak with a Specialist or visit https://ptlaser.com