Sivyer Steel is one of the country’s oldest continuously operating steel casting companies. Frederick Lincoln Sivyer founded the company in 1909. With a management team of three and seven other employees, the firm was well positioned to serve the farm equipment, mining, crane equipment and chain belt industries.
The company grew to employ 250 in just seven years, earning the trust of more than 750 customers. Sivyer had already become widely recognized as the standard for excellence in the production of steel parts as well as the molds used to cast them.
Sivyer Steel made its first public offering of stock in 1930, using the capital generated to acquire Nugent Steel Castings in Chicago. Five years later, the firm became the first foundry in the United States to pour armor steel castings for the U.S. military. This lead to continued growth as a part of the country’s war effort through the early 1940’s.
Following the war, Sivyer incorporated technical advances in the Milwaukee plant to enable the production of high-quality stainless steel, providing a new avenue for growth. It’s just one example of the way Sivyer has adapted to changing demands and technologies over the years to maintain some of the longest relationships in the industry while continuing to find new friends along the way.
For details on the many Sivyer advances over the years, click through the timeline below.
Sivyer Steel Castings Company is established by Fredrick Lincoln Sivyer. He serves as president, his nephew William C. Frye is treasurer, and C.R. Messinger is both vice president and general manager. There are seven other employees. At this time Sivyer Steel Castings Company serves the farm equipment, mining, crane equipment, and chain belt industries.
Sivyer Steel Castings Company grows to 250 plant and office employees, and serves more than 750 customers across 28 states. During this time the company begins to expand to serve the automotive industry. In celebration of Sivyer Steel’s 20th anniversary, a 66-page black-and-white booklet titled Dependability in Steel Castings was produced with a dedication to the men of Sivyer Steel. It reads, “Not only in the making of fine metal, but also in the production of the castings themselves, men are the prime essential of excellence. It is the Sivyer Men, even more than Sivyer Metal, who have accomplished for Sivyer Alloy Steel Castings the unusual distinction of a nationwide market.”
Sivyer Steel begins offering stock on February 14, 1930 with 100,000 shares of common stock first priced at $34 per share through the Chicago Stock Exchange. The First Wisconsin Company immediately purchases the first 20,000 shares, leaving 80,000 outstanding. This exchange of stock allows Sivyer Steel to purchase Nugent Steel Castings Company headquartered in Chicago.
Sivyer Steel is the first foundry in the United States to pour armor steel castings for the National Defense Department. By 1940, both the Chicago and Milwaukee locations were operating at full capacity largely due to increased wartime production. In total, 75 percent of all Sivyer castings at this time were for the military. Sivyer Steel was still only one of four foundries in the U.S. authorized to produce armor steel for the military. In May of 1943 the Army and Navy present Sivyer with the Army-Navy “E” Emblematic of Excellence award for the superb performance during demanding and time-consuming government orders.
An end to war production decreases the need for armor steel castings, and Sivyer Steel decides to renovate the Milwaukee foundry to be able to produce stainless steel. Over $850,000 of changes to make the shift include:
• Reducing metal in the induction furnaces for closer chemical analysis control.
• Installing an additional furnace to accommodate increasing volume.
• Additional drying ovens for the stainless sector.
• Creating additional sand-handling facilities, sand storage facilities, and sand slingers needed for molding.
In the spring of 1961 Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago approves plans for the Southwest Expressway, now known as the Dan Ryan Expressway. As a result, Sivyer Steel purchased the Riverside Foundry in Bettendorf, Iowa. The company begins to see a spike again for military armor steel production. Parts are made for the M80 Patton tank, which becomes the United State Army’s main battle tank until the late 1970s. The expansion into Bettendorf results in the tough decision to close the West Milwaukee plant after 62 years in business.
In April 1974, Sivyer Steel purchases 33,594 shares of its own stock from an unidentified share holder at $67.50 per share, totaling $2,267,595. This officially shifts over one-third of the outstanding shares back into company possession. This helps to build up Sivyer Steel’s treasury stock to allow for possible acquisitions of subsidiary corporations, employee stock option plans, and for contribution to employee pension plans. Additionally, sales increase this year by 35% to be just over $22 million. By the spring of 1975, Sivyer is operating at 117% capacity
In June of 1980 Sivyer Steel’s President Stephen Frye passed away suddenly after suffering a heart attack. William Messinger takes over as interim president and Harry Larrance is recalled from retirement to continue previous duties as executive vice president. Even though the 1980s are financially difficult times for the U.S., Siyver Steel’s after-tax profit in 1980 was $704,730 despite a 9.5 percent reduction in revenues and a 21.9 percent reduction in tonnage shipped as compared to 1979. Guidance from company leadership and voluntary salary reductions by many of Sivyer Steel’s employees help the company rise up.
Claude Robinson, a special consultant to Sivyer Steel from the Marshall and Ilsley Bank, introduces the Sivyer TRIM program, which stands for Total – Resource – Improvement - Mission. The program outlines a chronological sequence to improve productivity, quality, material use, and methods. Within one year the Sivyer TRIM program had saved the company $2 million in cost of scrap, man hours, and materials.
In October of 1985 a group of employees joined forces with suppliers and an outside investor, Everett Smith, to purchase control of Sivyer Steel from the estate of Stephen Frye, the former president. The exchange increased confidence for Sivyer Steel’s customers and influenced new customers to place orders.
In 1987 Sivyer Steel purchases a 45,000 square foot facility directly across the Mississippi River in Moline, Illinois, and opens the Moline Machine Shop. This full-service operation provides customers with capabilities including milling, drilling, grinding, boring, and turning.
In 1993 Sivyer Steel becomes the first jobbing steel foundry in North America through a large investment in the highly advanced MAGMAsoft™ software system. In May, Sivyer Steel becomes an ISO-9002 certified for the first time in the company’s long history.
In 1995 Sivyer Steel set a historical record with over $34 million in sales, an increase of 39 percent over 1994. The remainder of the 1990s continued to represent growth for the corporation.
Sivyer Steel was purchased from the Everett Smith Group by Facilitator Capital Fund, a Wisconsin based SBIC (Small Business Investment Corporation). Facilitator Capital Fund’s focus is to provide Sivyer with the proper resources to grow the corporation’s capabilities, customer base, and profitability. Sivyer Steel exists as a traditional jobbing steel foundry with an emphasis on smaller wear parts for the construction and recycling industries.
During 2006 Sivyer Steel began what was known as its Refinement Year. Sivyer began to moves away from the production of small castings, outsourcing these parts to Indonesia and China through a newly created subsidiary called Meterra. Sivyer Steel begins to place heavy focus on large scale commercial castings.
The time of Sustained Growth. The Great Recession is happening, but Sivyer remains focused on technology through the implementation of Odyssey™ software into all foundry processes. Odyssey™ assists Sivyer Steel employees in standardizing processes, increasing quality, and streamlining the purchasing processes. In early 2010, Sivyer Steel removes the last green sand molding machine also known as “The Herman” and focuses on chemically bonded sand.
Facilitator Capital Funds approves a $12 million capital expenditure, a large portion of which is part of a strategy to become a technological leader on large steel castings and processes within the industry.
The complete modernization of the plant includes a new thermal reclamation system, two new state-of-the-art mixers, an updated pattern shop and staging area, installing a robot, a new dust collection system, and two new conveyer systems in molding and the job floor.
The Moline Machine Shop is relocated from the east bank of the Mississippi near the foot of the I-74 bridge to property acquired near the main Bettendorf plant.