8-2009 Case Study: Champagne Metals and Processing
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New Line Redefines Company's Mission

With its new, extra-wide coil processing line, Champagne Metals has secured a promising nonferrous niche.

By Tim Triplett, Editor-in-Chief

While other service centers are squinting ahead in search of light at the end of the tunnel, Champagne Metals has sent up a flare. In its new aluminum and stainless slitting and blanking line, Champagne sees a bright future.

Mike Champagne, president of the 13-year-old service center company near Tulsa, Okla., has no regrets about the multimillion-dollar investment he made in the new coil line and plant expansion on the cusp of the worst recession since the Great Depression. To the contrary, he is energized about it. “No one in this company would take back this investment if we had it to do over. It’s the thing that excites us. It will keep us growing while everyone else is just trying to make it. We’ve got new things to sell.”

QUICK FACTS

Champagne Metals and Processing
429 W. 158th St. S.
Glenpool, OK 74033
Phone: 888-266-1131
Fax: 918-322-2121
Website: www.champagnemetals.com

Key Personnel: Mike Champagne, president; Kimberly Champagne, executive vice president; Clark Borgelt, vice president of sales and marketing; Rex Allen, chief financial officer; John Hancock, plant manager; Dee Clark, sales manager

Employees: 35

Facilities: 170,000-square-foot warehouse and processing center in Glenpool, Okla.; 20,000-square-foot warehouse in Edwardsburg, Mich.

Products: Aluminum and stainless coil and sheet; round, square, rectangular tubing; bar; and extrusions

Services: Edge slitting, leveling, cut-to-length, shearing, sawing, packaging, toll processing

Equipment: Four coil processing lines—Herr-Voss line with six-high leveler, can handle coils from 0.050-0.313 inch gauge, 24-100 inches wide, 24-600 inches long, with inline precision edge slitting up to 3 inches per side; Herr-Voss six-high leveler Rowe line, can handle coils from 0.012-0.125 inch gauge, 16-60 inches wide, 24-192 inches long; Herr-Voss six-high leveler Dahlstrom line, can handle coils from 0.030-0.250 inch gauge, 18-72 inches wide, 24-248 inches long; Herr-Voss five-high leveler line, can handle coils from 0.036-0.250 inch gauge, 18-75 inches wide, 24-480 inches long.
Formerly in charge of nonferrous flat-roll sales for Earle M. Jorgensen Co., Champagne started his own operation in August 1996 after EMJ announced plans to deemphasize its Oklahoma sheet operation. Champagne Metals acquired one of its first processing lines from EMJ.

Two years later, Champagne Metals broke ground on a new 134,000-square-foot warehouse and processing center in Glenpool, Okla. To accommodate its new processing line, the company added 36,000 square feet to its headquarters location earlier this year. It also operates a 20,000-square-foot stocking facility in Edwardsburg, Mich.

Champagne claims the new nonferrous cut-to-length line, which began production last month, may be one of a kind, with the capacity to handle aluminum and stainless coils up to 100 inches wide, 3/8th-inch thick and blanks 600 inches long.

One key feature of the line is its edge slitting capabilities. It can slit up to three inches off each side of a coil. “We can take mill coils that are not even finished yet and trim the edges,” says Champagne. “We can change the size of the coil going in for different sized blanks, and that makes it unique.”

Mills typically send coils out for edge trimming. Thus Champagne Metals has expanded its market into toll processing for producers such as Alcoa and Novelis, as well as providing increased capabilities for service center customers.

“The handful of mills worldwide that can produce coils that wide cannot slit their own edges out past certain widths. They have to send them outside to get it done. We will be able to take coils right from the mill, crop the heads and tails off and slit them to clean up the edges for the mills.”

Likewise, Champagne Metals will be able to edge slit its own coils and produce sheets for customers up to 600 inches long. The new line includes a leveler that can flatten coil from 0.050 up to 3/8ths inch thick, as well as a heavy-duty stacker that can handle very large blanks. The line can also line mark, pvc both sides and paper interleve.

“For many big customers, it can take five or six weeks after the metal is produced to get the sheets because the mill must first send it out to get the edges slit, then send it somewhere else to get blanked. I’m going to have coil on my floor and in two days I can deliver a [blanked] product. I’m taking four to six weeks out of the process,” says Champagne.

Herr-Voss Stamco was the turnkey supplier, designing, manufacturing and installing the new line. Jim McKenna, vice president of sales for the Callery, Pa., equipment vendor, gives Champagne credit for recognizing the market opportunity presented by the machine.

“I have to hand it to Mike for coming up with the idea to add side trimming to this line so he can actually run coils straight from the mill. Having side trimming on a line this wide and at this gauge is unusual. It’s a unique capability. I think he’s really onto something here,” says McKenna.

The new line’s capabilities will enable the company to expand beyond its traditional markets such as boats, horse trailers and appliances into those requiring large nonferrous sheets such as railcars, shipping containers and bulk transport.

“This separates us from everybody else. There will be niches out there we can fill. We are in the middle of the country where we can reach both coasts. We can handle Mexico, or ship out of California, Florida or Houston,” he notes.

With the addition of its newest Herr-Voss Stamco line, Champagne Metals now has four coil lines that can handle nonferrous material in gauges from 0.020 up to 0.375 inch and from 24 to 100 inches wide. Reflecting the company’s new focus, management recently changed its name from Champagne Metals to Champagne Metals and Processing.

Champagne acknowledges his business has suffered from the economic slump, like most in the metals market. His company has averaged 20 to 25 percent sales growth every year since 1996, but has experienced a significant decline in orders since last fall. And he sees no signs yet of a turnaround. But his new line gives him new optimism.

“We have looked at the market out there and feel that, if we get fortunate, we can be running at least two shifts on this line in the next four or five months. Things are still slow, but when they turn, we will be there ready to go.”

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