Years of building renovations and multiple expansions left Terry Mulder and other Southwark Metal Manufacturing employees walking around a building shaped like a Z – and a structure that ultimately ran out of space as success kept the ductwork manufacturing plant growing.
It led to a new beginning – and support from an electric cooperative welcoming the business to the community.
Southwark Metal, which makes ductwork sheet metal and components, received $146,230 from NineStar Connect, its local electric cooperative, for energy efficient lighting and occupancy sensors installed in its new McCordsville, Indiana, facility. The Indianapolis office of the third-generation family-owned business moved to the new site to support business growth after Southwark ran out of available space at its old building, which was initially constructed in 1997 and had multiple expansions in the decades since.
“We started out looking for a building comparable to our size and we couldn’t find anything big enough to move into,” said Mulder, who manages the Southwark Metal plant. “We came out here because we were looking for land.”
Southwark Metal’s new land in a developing industrial park offered plenty of space for the new building, and parking for the company’s 275 employees. It also offered the chance to build for the future; Southwark Metal’s new 350,000-square-foot facility is nearly double the size of its previous 200,000-square-foot plant.
“The advantage was being able to add more equipment,” Mulder said. “Also, the way the building is designed, our product flow is a whole lot better here.”
The business broke ground in spring 2021 and moved into the completed facility in May 2022. The new building includes LED lighting, which requires fewer fixtures and uses less electricity than other kinds of lights; and occupancy sensors, so lights only come on when people are working in specific areas of the facility.
“It does make your outlook just a whole lot better,” Mulder said of the LEDs. “A brighter place is just cheerier.”
Mulder was surprised by how efficient the lighting was compared to the old facility. The energy savings offset the cost of some of the additional manufacturing equipment that Southwark Metal installed in the new building. The company also added air conditioning to the new building, which the previous facility did not have.
The company worked with NineStar Connect on the Power Moves rebates, and other energy needs for the new building. The electric cooperative administers the energy efficiency rebate program with Wabash Valley Power Alliance, its wholesale power provider. The Power Moves program incentivizes businesses to invest in upgrades that use less energy, which lowers long-term demand and helps prevent the need to purchase more electricity in energy markets or invest in new power plants.
“Everything has been seamless from the building process to where we are today,” Mulder said of working with NineStar Connect. “It’s been nice to work with them.”
The company is one of the largest residential ductwork manufacturers in the U.S. It’s difficult to find a house in the Midwest that does not have at least some ductwork components from Southwark Metal, Mulder said. About 90 percent of the company’s work is manufacturing residential ductwork metal and components, though the business also does some commercial ductwork as well. The Indiana location serves eight Midwestern states and had its best sales year in 2022.
“Southwark Metal is a great addition to our community, and a testament to the value and benefit that family-owned businesses provide,” said Michael Burrow, president and CEO of NineStar Connect. “We are thrilled at Southwark Metal’s unprecedented success. We hope it’s just the beginning, and we are excited to be able to contribute to the success that is sure to come.”