From a humble start in a single car garage, Fab Masters Company, Inc. has made its mark as a premier machining service provider for the aluminum extrusion industry. It has not been easy; the road to success was fraught with potholes and deviations, but confidence and determination lead the way for the “American Dream” to materialize for Ron Troxell, president of Fab Masters Company.
In 1984, Troxell started out making a single copper electrical lug. From then Fab Masters Company has grown into becoming a provider of custom fabricated aluminum parts and manufacturing solutions. The company specializes in fabricating aluminum extrusions that vary in size from 3/8” to over 20’ feet long, that can be cut, machined, welded, and assembled to order.
Starting out as a 48’ x 48’ commercial building, he wondered if he could ever fill the space. “Today it is our conference room - it used to be our lunch room until it got too small for all of our employees to eat at once. We had to have two shifts,” said Troxell. At the time he had six employees, that produced 900 parts in six weeks, the facility now exceeds 100,000 square feet has over 100 employees, operates three shifts, and produces 366,720 parts in six weeks.
Having fond memories of growing up in rural Marcellus, Troxell wanted to give back to the community, he said,” Marcellus needs industry and I’d like to help get things going.” That he did, making Fab Masters the largest industrial employer in town, and stimulating other businesses here as well.
In 2009 he started the Welding Technology Education Center, Inc. (WTEC) an intensive industry-level welding training school that has certified 61 students, and returned these individuals to the workforce as highly-skilled employees.
The Troxell family has been a voice in the Marcellus community for many years, holding positions on the Town Council, and being active in community and educational affairs. Always striving to help build Marcellus into a place where fond memories continue to be the core of family life.
The economy has not been kind to the manufacturing industry in recent years. Immediately after two major facility expansions, one in 2000 which doubled the physical size to 41,000 square feet, and a 31,000 square foot expansion in 2008 the economy collapsed. Fab Masters had to cut its payroll from 68 in early 2000 to 18 by early 2002. The remaining employees gave up wages, hours, and benefits to help in the fight to survive. “Fighting off the unethical banking wolves, offshore competition and the poor economy, we refused to give up, “Troxell said.
Now Fab Masters is on the road to growth and its stance as a stalwart pillar in the aluminum industry has greatly been due to the company’s ability to flex with the marketplace, provide innovative processes, and pursue new technologies. Their extraordinary talent base has developed many highly efficient methods to produce parts. One such innovation changed the production of a part that was fabricated by hand with a pneumatic screw gun, producing 80 pieces per hour, to utilizing a punch press operation capable of producing 500 pieces per hour. Two years ago the demand for large part fabrication exploded. To keep up with customer demand Troxell purchased three CNC routers, one is capable of running a 20 foot long part, one is dual-headed can machining two parts simultaneously, and the newest, a custom built Multiax, just arrived from Italy, has two tables, so that one part can be loaded as the other part is being machined.
Dedication, innovation, forward thinking, and a workforce committed to perform and produce their very best have lead them to this celebration. “As I reflect on the past 30 years,” said Troxell, “it has been an amazing adventure. Good times, bad times, lots of fun, lots of tears, with tremendous successes, tremendous failures, and with profits and losses shared. I am one of the lucky few that have gotten to call my passion, “work.” Some days, I look around, and I just smile when I look at what has been accomplished by everyone that has been a part of Fab Masters over the years. I am proud to have helped people make a living, learn new skills, and be contributing members of our community. But the most amazing thing for me is what all these people have taught me; how they support and carry me when I am overwhelmed, and their pride, their commitment, their love for their families.”