S&S Alloy Steel finds success in metal business
After working in metal for most of his life, it was hard for Jerry Shepherd not to get his children involved in the metal business.
Dayna Miller, Shepherd's daughter, remembers how her father would bring home buckets of parts he had gotten from some machine shop that had been cut for another customer. He would pay the youths 10 cents apiece to file down the burred edges of the metal to get it ready for his client the next day.
Miller uses a belt sander now to file metal that's getting ready for a customer at S&S Alloy Steel, and the pay has gotten better, but she can't help remember her introduction to the family business.
"Whenever I have to deburr something, I stand there and think, 'God how many hours did I spend cleaning those edges off?'" she said.
S&S Alloy Steel first opened its doors in the mid-'90s in Olathe.
Since most of the family lived in the Tonganoxie area, the business was moved to its new location in town in 2001 and has been thriving ever since.
The business found its niche market because it sells smaller amounts of metal to businesses or individuals who can't afford or don't need larger pieces of metal.
The company services the Kansas City area and does some business in Nebraska, Georgia and New Mexico.
The six-employee business is made up of Jerry and Jayna Shepherd, the original owners, and their children Dayna Miller and Darren Shepherd.
Jerry started his business because he was concerned about servicing the "little guy, such as a machine shop."
"With a big company, you had to buy a full bar of material. A machine shop cannot afford to spend $4,000 on a 14-inch round bar of alloy and turn around and only use an inch of the end of it, and they can't afford to stock it," Miller said.
Miller wanted to be the person who could help those smaller customers, so he and Jayna moved from their home in Georgia to start the business closer to their children and grandchildren.
Business has been steadily increasing through the past several year,s and now S&S Alloy Steel has more than $2 million in sales each year.
The company's biggest seller is steel with aluminum being a close second, but Miller said it seemed like each week there always seemed to be a big demand for something different.
Miller said the increase price of metal has actually helped the company.
"When the cost of metal goes up and people can't afford to buy a whole bar of something, that's when they call us. That's when we have more business," she said.
Jerry told Miller that the price of steel has increased 25 percent in the month of May and is expected to go up 16 percent in June.
But nothing increases their business like good customer service. Because the Shepherds don't do much advertising, the majority of their sales is done by either going out to meet new clients or by referrals. And to keep their customers, the Shepherds are willing to go above and beyond to get customers what they need.
"If somebody needs something and we don't have it in stock, I will find it and we will turn it around," Miller said. "I've gotten people who want plastic and I will go and bring in plastic."