McHENRY – Mike Chambers had a problem that is a good one for the owner and president of a business to have: Increased sales and demand required increased space.
His company, Adams Steel Service Inc., had just moved in June 2012 to a new facility it had built, and almost doubled its space to 21,000 square feet if the outbuildings were included. But barely a year later, the steel company had outgrown its new home – it had filled the space, and new machinery it wanted as part of its growth plan wouldn’t fit inside.
But a touch of luck and good timing came by, exploited by good business sense.
The Harley-Davidson dealership in McHenry approached Chambers’ business about building a new location. At the same time, Chambers was eyeing a new location to accommodate his own growing business – it had been out of his financial reach in the past, but the bursting of the real estate bubble made it affordable,
So Chambers approached Harley-Davidson with a deal – instead of a new building, move into Adams’ newly built location.
The deal was made, and Adams bought the new home it wanted and needed. The last piece of machinery moved last New Year’s Eve to Adams’ new location at 2022 S. Route 31, in McHenry.
“Within a four-month period of time, we put the whole deal together. The timing worked out perfectly, and I had already envisioned what we would do with this building before we even bought it,” Chambers said.
Adams Steel’s new location is 60,000 square feet, almost triple its prior location. Its amenities include a 12,000-square-foot showroom that has allowed the company to expand its welding supplies and equipment line. And the 5.8 acres it sits on, besides making for much easier access for semi trucks and customers, also offers plenty of space to plan for future growth.
“This is the last move I’m making,” Chambers said with a laugh. “It’s worked out beautifully and we have plenty of room at this site. We can expand it for years to come.”
Adams employs 12 people in its shop and four in the front office, and is in the process of hiring at least two more shop employees.
The company, first created in 1960, employed 24 before the housing bust hit the construction business hard.
The company survived, and began to thrive again, by diversifying. While it still supplies structural steel for home and light commercial construction, it also offers a full array of steel services including fabricating, welding, machining and ornamental iron work. Its work can be picked up by the buyer, and Adams can deliver and install it as well.
Adams now has more than 1,200 clients, a feat he credits in significant part to his wife Mary, who serves as the company’s marketing director. It’s that customer base which Chambers credits for keeping the business in Illinois.
Chambers conceded that he seriously considered moving the business just over the nearby Wisconsin state line, citing the lower taxes and a climate that is much friendlier to business than that of Illinois. But doing so would have meant too far of a drive for the loyal customer base that Adams had built.
“It would have inconvenienced them a lot, and that’s the only reason we didn’t move,” Chambers said.
Chambers said he would very much like to grow to the level that Adams achieved before the housing bubble burst.
“Even though [housing] is a strong suit for Adams Steel, we’ve made the company less dependent on it in case the economy starts to slide back in reverse,” Chambers said.
The company is hosting an open house from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 28.
Adams Steel Service Inc. supplies structural steel for home and light commercial construction and offers a full array of steel services including fabricating, welding, machining and ornamental iron work.
Address: 2022 S. Route 31, McHenry
Hours: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, and 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays