Steel 21’s President, Kimm Slater, has been in the manufacturing business for decades. Starting with his family’s original business, Maco Steel, followed by over 30 years of steel plate processing experience, Slater wanted to do things differently.
He founded Steel 21 in 2014, headquartered in Cedar Springs, MI. His goal was to do what he’d always done, but with greater efficiency, and without the toxic waste conventional methods produce.
In the steel processing business, ‘flat and parallel’ is king. Slater’s new process, 21 Micro Mill, produces steel plates that are flatter, smoother and more parallel, and within closer tolerances than the 114-year-old conventional Blanchard grinding technology that most other mills use. The process produces higher quality plates in less time, saving their customers time and money.
The 21 Micro Mill process is also 100% recyclable, eliminating toxic waste in an area increasingly overrun by ground water contamination.
Slater needed a financial backer, so he contacted an old family friend and business colleague, Jim Maskell, head of LMCU’s Commercial Lending division.
“Jim and LMCU didn’t hesitate to help set up a $2 million line of credit to get our new facility up and running. For many years, I was a loyal customer at another Grand Rapids business bank. Over time, I realized they had turned increasingly political, and worked to secure their own advantage at the expense of smaller clients. Jim helped me walk away from all of that.”
Starting with a handful of employees in 2014, Steel 21 now provides over 50 well-paid manufacturing positions and is planning to expand for the third time in less than four years.
“LMCU has my back,” Slater said. “That’s something you just can’t put a price on.”