By Brad Rhen, The Reading Eagle
READING, PA – When Louis and Rosemarie Bruno founded The Rose Corp. in 1987, it occupied a single bay in a warehouse on the west side of North Eighth Street.
The company now occupies eight buildings on both sides of Eighth Street, totalling more than 150,000 square feet.
A custom fabricating company, The Rose Corp. makes a wide range of products for a variety of companies and organizations. It specializes in industrial fabrication of custom-engineered equipment, such as industrial furnaces.
The Rose Corp. has 51 employees, which is a little higher than it was prior to the Great Recession. At one time, the company had about 90 employees.
“The company definitely got into more complex things as it evolved,” said CEO Elaine McDevitt, daughter of the Brunos. “We started out with a lot more smaller items, simpler items. But over the years, we hired more skilled professionals, and we got into a lot of the furnaces.”
Named After Wife
Louis Bruno named The Rose Corp. after his wife, Rosemarie. There’s a reason he chose that name rather than something such as Bruno Manufacturing, McDevitt said. “Not only was it named after my mom, but it was sort of a nebulous name,” she said. “He didn’t want to name it Bruno Fabrication and be pigeonholed. He named it The Rose Corp., because he knew he wanted to grow it in different ways, but he didn’t know exactly how. So when he started it, he gave it a generalized name. Then, through the years, he added on all kinds of different things.”
Among the things Bruno added was Mark Metals, a distributor and processor of metal products also in Reading. Mark Metals is a division of The Rose Corp.
“It’s a steel-distribution center, where we also do value-adds,” McDevitt said. “For example, a lot of the small manufacturers or contractors in the area need steel, and they come to Mark Metals. We have a lot of it in stock, and we can add services for them right away. They don’t have the tooling to punch or bend or form, but we do, so that’s what we use Mark Metals for.”
Fabricates variety of products
The company custom-fabricates a variety of products, including thermal oxidizers, industrial furnaces, condensers, industrial ductwork, machine bases, frames and material-handling equipment. The largest product the company produced was a 1.4 million-pound runway-testing machine for the Federal Aviation Administration.
“We make a lot of machine bases also for a couple of different companies,” McDevitt said. “They have specific units that they build that are exclusive to them, and we build the machine bases. They’re not just flat surfaces. A lot of them have very specific footprints on them.”
One product The Rose Corp. manufactures routinely is regenerative thermal oxidizers, or RTOs. RTOs treat exhaust from industrial manufacturers, such as automobile makers. They account for about 30 percent of the company’s business, said Tom McDevitt, general manager of the industrial furnace division and Elaine’s husband.
“There’s so many industries that use the RTOs: chemical companies such as Dow and DuPont, wood manufacturers, anyone that’s using glues in their processes,” he said. “So it’s really a broad spectrum. Anyone that has to scrub their air to meet EPA standards will use something like this. There’s other technologies, but what’s unique about this is it has a very small footprint.”
Aside from RTOs, much of the company’s other business is one-off projects, such as components for windmills. It also once fabricated parts for a ride for Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
“Our niche, really, is big,” Tom McDevitt said. “As a matter of fact, what we did is change our business model a little bit. The smaller fabrication, which kind of chokes our value stream here, we do them out at our Marks Metals facility. Smaller pieces, smaller cranes, faster cranes: things can move around much faster out there, and the guys out there have more experience with the little parts.”
Understanding of engineering
While most of the products The Rose Corp. manufactures are engineered by customers, The Rose Corp. does have an engineer on staff. Additionally, most of the workers have a good understanding of engineering, Tom McDevitt said. That is very important, since many companies have fewer engineers and designers than they had in the past, he said.
Often times, if there are errors in the engineering, they will be caught on the floor, Tom McDevitt said.
“We have two very, very sharp guys out there, and they’ll see the errors that the engineers never saw,” he said. “Some of our customers appreciate that value, because they know things are going to come out to the floor and there’s going to be a problem.”
The Rose Corp. General Manager Randy Gross described the company’s workers as field engineers.
“They have the field experience that is actually as good or better than the book experience,” he said. “These guys have done it enough. That’s where you get your value out of your senior guys, who can see it coming even before it gets off the drawing board.”
A lot of potential
Since the low prices of oil have affected many of its customers, The Rose Corp. has several projects on hold, including two that Elaine McDevitt described as huge.
“That customer is heavily invested in that, and is waiting for the business to come back,” she said.
Despite the turmoil many of its customers are experiencing because of low oil prices, The Rose Corp. has a lot of capital equipment expansion plans.
“We have a whole laundry list of capital equipment that we want to replace or purchase going forward, so that’s another reason we hope the economy works with us,” Elaine McDevitt said. “We want to be able to offer additional capabilities to our customers.”
Gross said the oil and steel industries carry a lot of weight, and when they are doing bad, it keeps smaller companies such as The Rose Corp. from growing. However, he said, the company sees a lot of potential with getting back into the furnace area.
“We are one of the largest fabrication and machine shops locally, and that’s why we’re saying we do everything big, and that’s our niche,” Gross said. “Unfortunately, things right now are a little bit flat. Maybe that’s part of the issue: between the steel, the oil and the election, everybody is just sitting on their hands.”
Contact Brad Rhen: 610-371-5047 or [email protected]
Learn More about the custom metal fabrication services at http://markmetals.apps-1and1.com/metal-service-center.