[Monett Times] Overcast ~ 59°F  
High: 66°F ~ Low: 49°F
Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Local business celebrates 30 years in business

Friday, December 14, 2012

Times Photo by Melonie Roberts An employee at IMEC, in Monett, placed parts in a pre-programmed machine to bend metal into components that will eventually be used on a web-fed printing press. The company specializes in small run orders, providing quality parts at lower prices. [Order this photo]
A Monett industry has reached its 30-year milestone in business.

IMEC, located at 1716 N. Ninth St., recently observed its 30th anniversary in making and marketing precision sheet metal fabrication and machined parts.

Started by Dan Conner, the business opened during the recession in 1982, totaling $200 in sales in the final two months of that year.

Times Photo by Melonie Roberts Eric Merriman, plant manager at IMEC, is pictured above with a battery box manufactured for the U.S. Air Force's B-52 bomber. The box will be cleaned, painted "federation red," according to specs, and shipped to another military supply vendor in Missouri. [Order this photo]
"It wasn't the best time to be opening a business," Conner said.

The business started out in a building measuring 40 feet by 75 feet, with no insulation, lights or heating. But Conner had a dream, and with his wife, Charlotte, got busy and started building their future.

"We started in a building with all manual equipment," Conner said. "I spent a lot of that first year traveling, and by the end of 1983, we had four employees.

Times Photo by Melonie Roberts Pictured above are the principal managers of IMEC, in Monett. From left, Mark Conner, sales and marketing, Dan Conner, founder and president of IMEC, and Eric Merriman, plant manager. They are pictured in front of a specialty unit destined for the oil fields. "We don't know if this one will land up in the Sahara Desert or in the Antarctic," Merriman said. "We have to build each of these units to withstand extremes in both temperatures and environmental conditions." The units are used in a land-based application in the oil industry. [Order this photo]
"Now, we have a bigger building, computer-aided equipment and 40 employees," Conner continued. "We are grateful to our loyal customers who have trusted us with their manufacturing needs for the past 30 years."

Many changes in the industry have taken place over the years, and IMEC has adapted to those changes well.

"We have over 60,000 square feet and use automated equipment that measures and drills each hole, a laser cutting machine and automated material handling systems," Conner said. "It sounds astounding, but we're using robots to weld and load materials. It allows us to manufacture in smaller quantities at a lower price."

Times Photo by Melonie Roberts Dan Conner, founder of IMEC, is pictured above with an oxygen mask container stored in the cockpits of some aircraft. The company manufactures a number of components for both civilian and military aircraft. [Order this photo]
With robot and computer-aided technology, IMEC employees can manufacture precision parts that measure within 1/5,000th of an inch to specifications.

That's why the company has some prestigious clients, including a contract to build battery housings for the United States Army's B-52 bomber.

"We also make oxygen mask compartments for other types of aircraft," Conner said, "and several other styles of battery housings for aircraft."

Each batch of parts is subject to stringent quality control inspections, which are documented and provided to the customer upon request.

The process used to make precision parts is somewhat mind-boggling, with the customer having to first imagine and design the part either flat or on a 3D file that can be "taken down" to form a horizontal pattern.

"It's pretty amazing what we can do digitally," added Mark Conner, sales and marketing manager. "What's fun about working here is we open the [computer] file and two weeks later, we have a finished part that matches that file."

Turning the customer's vision into reality is the work of three dedicated computer technicians, who write specific programs for the automated machinery.

"We drill one hole at a time and make one punch at a time, while the part is flat," Dan said. "Then we bend the metal and complete whatever other operations are required."

The company has also started promoting value-added components, not only making the metal housings but purchasing and installing some of the fuses, mother boards or other parts as well.

"For example, this fuse box is one we manufactured here," Dan said, "but we purchased the fuses from our customer, install them, put their name on the product and ship it out."

"That's how much our customers trust us," added Mark.

"Even though some of our customers started ordering parts from China, they didn't have the same quality, and some of those customers are returning to us," said Dan.

Attention to detail, prompt service and customer satisfaction are the keys to IMEC's success.

"We follow the basic philosophy upon which IMEC was founded: controlled growth, providing close tolerance machined and sheet metal parts; and most importantly, taking pride in what we do," said Eric Merriman, plant manager. "We just use bigger and fancier equipment now."

"We focus on building parts and assemblies that will last, that will endure," Dan said. "Just like with or business."

Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. If you feel that a comment is offensive, please Login or Create an account first, and then you will be able to flag a comment as objectionable. Please also note that those who post comments on monett-times.com may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.

Hip hip hooray!! We need more smart, dedicated people like Dan and Charlotte Conner, willing to actually PRODUCE something in this Country.

-- Posted by MonettanK9 on Sun, Dec 16, 2012, at 9:40 AM

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration:

© 2016 Monett Times, a division of Rust Publishing MOARCASS, L.L.C. All rights reserved.