When deciding on a sheet metal fabricator, you’re not just hiring a company – you’re choosing a collaborative partner. To ensure a successful product, make sure your future sheet metal fabrication partner has the experience and resources to complete the work on your timeline.
Deciding if a company fits your needs starts with asking the right questions and researching their past work and current capabilities.
Here’s where to start:
A company’s experience, especially with a specific type of job, can help make the decision a lot easier.
Don’t stop at asking how many years they’ve been around. While working with a business who’s been in the industry a substantial amount of time can be comforting, inquire about the style of products managed and industries served. Even a company that has been working in sheet metal fabrication for 50 years may be of little use if they’ve never tackled a project similar to yours.
Here are some additional experience-related questions to ask when meeting with a potential fabrication partner:
- Have they worked on products similar to the one you’re proposing?
- What experience do they have in your industry?
- What employees or specialists do they have that work in your industry?
- Do they have the capabilities to powder coat and finish your products?
The goal when asking about their experience is to make sure this company can prove a level of competence in projects that makes you feel secure about working with them.
Even a very experienced company may not have the necessary equipment to see your product through to completion. When speaking with a sheet metal fabricator, be specific about your requirements and timeline to ensure they’ll have the necessary equipment.
Ask questions like:
- Do they have the right equipment and materials available for your type of job?
- Can they handle the type, grade, and gauge of metal required?
- With what kind of supply chains do they work?
- How much of your job can they complete in-house?
- Can their facilities handle the job on your timeline?
Often, professional sheet metal fabricators will have additional services beyond sheet metal fabrication and can save costs and reduce delivery timelines by not shipping products to multiple manufacturers.
Services to see if your sheet metal fabricator offers to include:
Your sheet metal fabricator’s capability to finish the project goes beyond their services – it also includes their schedule. By working with a company that provides a full range of services from engineering through inventory management, you gain a partner who can help oversee all aspects of your work, identify additional cost-savings, and have your product completed under one roof.
Once you’re confident they have the experience and tools necessary to complete your product, make sure to inquire about their availability in terms of scheduling and the workforce they have to offer.
For example, if a company has all your necessary qualifications but won’t be able to accommodate specific deadlines, it may be time to look into other companies or decide to put the work on hold for the time being.
To guarantee a sheet metal fabricator’s quality standard, inquire about any certifications they hold that signal a higher standard and commitment to quality such as an ISO 9001:2015 certification.
Knowing that a company holds this certification can make your decision a little easier by ensuring the company that has a recognized level of professionalism and consistent quality.
In addition to learning more about their equipment and services, take some time to research a company’s previous work.
There are a few ways to learn more about the companies you’re vetting:
Review Their Websites
Take a look at the sheet metal fabrication services on their website and look for a gallery of completed products. If the quality is consistent and you see products similar to the one you’re requesting, that’s a good sign they can handle the work.
Also, review their website for additional information such as case studies and testimonials from past clients.
Ask for References
Don’t be shy about asking a sheet metal fabricator if they can provide client references that you can contact. Learning more about a fabricator by talking to people who’ve worked directly with them is one of the best ways to get a feel for your potential fabrication partner.
A few questions to ask include:
- What was the quality of work?
- How quickly was the job finished?
- Was the team professional and communicative?
- Did you encounter any problems while working with them? If so, how did the team handle them?
Look at Online Reviews
Another way to gauge the quality of their work is by checking their reviews on websites like Google Business, Yelp, and Angie’s List. Finding that other people have consistent and positive feedback over the years is a good sign you’re working with professionals.
Visit the Company
While references, case studies, and product galleries can give you a look into the quality of work a sheet metal fabricator provides, the best way to gauge the professionalism, quality, and the overall team is to visit the company in-person.
Though it can be a significant investment to travel to a fabricator’s facilities, the ability to see their fabrication process first-hand is a valuable investment in the quality of your finished product.
If a company doesn’t allow you the opportunity to visit their premises, be wary that they may be hiding something within their machines, process, or team.
No matter what you’re working on, it’s a good rule of thumb to get a second (or third or fourth!) quote from another company to see how they differ in pricing. Many companies will offer a free quote, which doesn’t require a commitment to work with them.
When comparing quotes, see how they align to get an idea of the market standard and how much a skilled, qualified job will end up costing you. If one company offers a significantly higher estimate than the rest, ask yourself why. Bear in mind that estimates could differ based on the quality of their work, employees, and materials. It’s important to look not only at the price on the quote but also the quality of products they’re known for delivering.
In the same regard, if a company stands out for a significantly lower quote than the rest, make sure to research them further. Low bids can be an immediate red flag that the quality or timeline may not be on the same level as the other companies quoted. It may also mean that there was a miscommunication in the requirements of the job, which may lead to requesting a revised quote.
When getting a quote, ask for more than just a final, total number. A professional sheet metal fabrication company should be able to give you a quote that’s broken down into individual costs such as a materials surcharge, tooling fees, design fees, freight, no matter how complicated. Be sure there’s no hidden costs or surprises down the line.
Make The Right Choice for Your Company
Once the research is complete, it’s time to make a decision. You should choose the company that meets both your product’s requirements and that, after careful consideration, you trust the most. Take your time to make a thorough decision on who will be the right fit for your company.