HILLSDALE — Precision Metal Art is the latest company to join Hillsdale’s growing manufacturing sector, which is benefiting from a strong national economy and business-friendly city administration.
The company, which makes custom ordered metal signs and home decorations, recently moved into a 36,000 square-foot building in Hillsdale’s Manufacturing and Technology Park, where they’ve begun the process of converting an old industrial building, located at 245 Mechanic Street, into the company’s new headquarters and factory.
“It’s unbelievable,” says Alan Russell, founder and CEO. “We used to have a space that was only 3,500 square-feet. This is much safer, and easier to work with; it feels nice to finally be able to stretch out.”
On Monday, Hillsdale’s City Council approved a 10-year, $12,493 industrial facilities tax exemption certificate for Precision Metal Art, which reported $98,450 in physical improvements to the building, although Russell says they’ve already spent more than that amount tailoring the structure to their needs.
It’s an expansion prompted by the company’s remarkable growth, which itself is an inspiring entrepreneurial story. Just two years ago Russell was working from his home, tinkering with some design software and selling custom metal art to his friends. Now, he employs 26 people and sells more than 150 products in various sizes and colors, and offers hundreds of custom variations.
While he’s reluctant to disclose his company’s annual revenue, Russell says they do 300-400 sales per day, keeping them more than busy fulfilling orders.
It was the pace of their growth, along with the cramped working space, that convinced him they needed a roomier facility, capable of giving them ample space to scale their operations.
So with a little help from the Hillsdale County Economic Development Partnership and city hall, Russell and his employees packed up shop and moved from Jonesville, where he first started the business in 2016, to Hillsdale last December.
“This has always been the dream,” Russell says. “We’re always in it so sometimes we don’t always recognize how much we’ve grown in less than two years, but I couldn’t wait to have a big building. It’s a huge weight that’s been lifted off my shoulders.”
It hasn’t always been easy though. Russell who hasn’t had any formal business education before he launched his venture, says there have been ups and downs as he continues to learn and innovate. But it’s a challenge he enjoys — and recommends to others.
“I think anyone can run a business,” Russell says. “It’s a mindset. I can’t tell you how much my mindset, and my personal relationships have changed since I became a business owner. It’s a complete mindset shift.”
Speaking on the future of his company, Russell says he has ambitious plans, half-jokingly adding that he’s only “halfway there” to reaching his goal.
“We’re going to keep innovating and adding new products,” he says. “We’re not going to just sit back and say ‘let’s stabilize.’ No, we’re going to keep growing and innovating.”
Now, in their new facility, they’ll have the space to just that.