(Post-Star (Glen Falls, NY) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jan. 08--GLENS FALLS -- Miller Mechanical has grown extensively in its 25-year history, and company President Elizabeth Miller is actively trying to keep it growing.
Over the past two decades, Miller Mechanical Services Inc. once housed its metal fabrication operations in a rented 5,000-square-foot warehouse and now operates a roughly 55,000-square-foot Walnut Street complex.
"It's in our business plan, if the right opportunity presents itself," Controller Bill Batkay said of a possible expansion.
U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, visited the metal fabrication company's complex on Monday, as part of a tour to get acquainted with issues in some of the newer parts of the 21st Congressional District.
There aren't any immediate plans for the company to expand, but Miller and Batkay are looking for potential sites in Glens Falls.
Owens said after Monday's tour he would speak to other area officials about helping the company secure a site for a potential expansion.
With more space, Miller could bring on an additional half-dozen employees to start with, she said.
Miller Mechanical specializes in metal products for the pulp and paper companies, but has customers within and outside of that industry.
It currently has 27 employees working at the Glens Falls complex, and another 200 that work around the country, Batkay said.
The company's customer base has been expanding over the past few years, in part because of its use of water jet technology for cutting material, which has brought in business from companies outside of pulp and paper vendors.
An operator programs a computer that's connected to the water jet, and water and abrasives come out of the machine at 87,000 pounds per square inch.
Griffith Thomas, the company's fabrication operations manager, held a palm-sized piece of slate the machine had cut precisely into the shape of New York state. The machine can cut slate, metal, plastic and glass, Thomas said.
"It can cut anything," Thomas said.
The water jet is precise, and it's also "green" technology because the company recycles the water it uses by filtering it through a cleaning system, Batkay said.
The company started using that machine two years ago, and it's proven more effective than other cutting methods because an employee can take the material from the machine and start welding, when before there may have been a clean-up step in between, Batkay said.
Miller's husband, Myles, started the company on Pine Street about 25 years ago with a seventh-grade education, she said.
The company moved to its current site in 1992, and completed a 75- by 100-foot addition to the facility in 1999. There have been a few more expansions since then.
When Myles Miller died several years ago, she retired from teaching and took over the company.
"There are a lot of great minds working here," she said. "I tweak the steering wheel a little to the left or right."
In the company's forming area on Monday, employees were working on metal tanks that convert wood chips into pulp or make ethanol from wood. Other employees work with machines that shape metal, or a giant bottom-shaper, which hangs from the ceiling and will eventually be used by a paper company to make pulp from wood chips.
Some of the Miller Mechanical employees were hired out of local BOCES programs, while many others have come from other jobs in the industry.
Welding is part of the metal fabrication process at the company's facility, but there's much more that goes into crafting its products than that -- some are working with trigonometry all day to manipulate the material, Batkay said.
"It's art, what he does," Batkay said during the tour, pointing to one of the employees who was working with a machine to shape a piece of metal. "Each piece (of metal) is different and has unique grains. You have to have that intuitive knowledge."
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