Kernersville investor takes one back from the Chinese

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Kernersville-based U.S. Duct had grown reliant on a clamp made by a Chinese-owned metal fabricating company in Archdale, but wasn’t pleased with the product quality.

It wasn’t surprising, then, that US Duct owner Steve McDaniel saw a business opportunity when he learned Speed Metal was going out of business. “While we weren’t satisfied with the product, they were the only ones we could find that could do what we needed in a reasonable amount of time,” says US Duct Marketing Manager Kim Williams.

McDaniel bought the assets of Speed in November 2018, marking the rare example of a U.S. company taking over a Chinese operator. Since then, McDaniel and partners have invested more than $2 million to expand the rebranded US Metal Crafters LLC, a move that saved 32 jobs, Williams says.

A Chinese group formed Speed Metal about five years ago after buying family owned IVS Metal Stamping, which had operated for more than 30 years, Williams says. The Chinese had planned to shift much production overseas, he says.

“We saw a void in the industry for a responsive, American-owned and operated metal crafting company,” says McDaniel, who started U.S. Duct six years ago. This acquisition provided us with the foundational equipment, personnel skill-set and position to grow that company right here in the Triad.”

The new owners think they can add as many as 100 jobs over the next five years because of potential business from a wide variety of industries including retailing, furniture, hospitality and solar.

“It feels good for us to reclaim some territory in the Archdale area and bring some life to that business,” Williams says. “We’re talking about skilled work that are bread-and-butter jobs for middle-class families in the area.”

US Metal has a goal of $8 million in revenue in 2020.

US Duct employs about 25 people with its ducts made of heavy-gauge metal and used in industrial plants such as the Deere Hitachi site n Kernersville, Williams says.

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