Published on November 20th, 2014 | by UC&D Magazine0
Wayne Searle has been a busy man since being named CEO of SME Steel in April 2012, which seems right given the company’s enormous size and capacity. He admits that Utah is a great state to work in, even though 75% of the company’s work is exported out of state.
“There is such a good family attitude here,” said Searle, who followed his father into the sheet metal industry before earning a degree in mechanical engineering and ultimately getting into the steel business. “We’ve got some of the greatest people. There is such an incredible work ethic in Utah. Everybody asks me, “Why are you based in Utah? The work ethic is phenomenal. There is nothing more rewarding than giving somebody an opportunity, and then get out of their way and just watch them grow.”
Searle said SME – which was founded in 1992 – is poised for significant growth in 2015, after a very solid 2014 that has seen its top line revenue climb 20%, from $154 Business is brisk for CEO Wayne Searle at West Jordan-based SME Steel. He projects company revenues to hit the $230-$250 million range next year. (photos by Dana Sohm) ￼￼million in 2013 to $180 million in 2014. He expects those numbers to hit the $230 to $250 million mark next year, which is in the ballpark of 2009 figures of $245 million.
“I’m extremely excited about 2015,” he said. “Three months ago I saw a nice climb in volume and now we’re seeing it take off. Our backlog has increased – we now have 700,000 man hours in backlog.”
He said profit margins are also better, provided you can meet ever-demanding schedules.
“Our customer base asks ‘how fast can you get it here?’ Not how cheap. There has been an emotional and physical change
in sheer volume alone. We’re seeing some improvement in the casino market, the commercial market, and hospitality has taken off.”
Searle said SME’s strength is its ability to manage and coordinate design, fabrication and erection details with all parties involved at a highly efficient level, and the fact that it can perform all Division 5 specifications.
“We’re a one-stop shop for our customers,” said Searle. “It’s valuable, it’s what sets us apart from our competition. We get to make our own tinker toys, we get paid to make them, and they last forever.”
Besides Levi’s Stadium, the firm has worked on numerous high-profile projects – arenas, high-end casinos, and large hospitality, commercial and industrial projects. To keep up with demand, SME recently opened a plant in Pocatello, Idaho and hired 75 people over a four-week period.
Searle said the steel industry is a gratifying business to work in, and relayed a story from his visit to Levi’s Stadium for the first game of the season. He spotted an ironworker who had been on the project and he was wearing an SME shirt, and was obviously very much enjoying himself and his contributions to that job.
“It was a great feeling, seeing the network of people, the community involvement,” he said. “One of the things I’m proud of is I’ve been in about every spot in the company. I can relate to people and what they’re dealing with.”