IF business begins $3 to $5 million project

BY COREY MEINTS

It was 1994. Joe Longobardi met a couple of guys who had an idea to produce metal reinforced sealing materials — gaskets. That idea turned into Metal Tech Industries (MTI) with Longobardi taking the big chance to see the idea through to reality.

Today, work is progressing on a $3 million to $5 million expansion project for the 20-year-old Iowa Falls company.

“Metal Tech started as a development corporation,” Longobardi said. “What we were developing were the processes and equipment to produce high-temperature and high-pressure gasket materials.”

Longobardi said MTI hasnever cut a gasket. Instead, it makes the materials for motor companies to cut gaskets themselves to their own specifications.

That development provided a lot of challenges. Two things had to be developed before the first product could even be sent through the line. The first was the building of the machines specifically for MTI’s purposes. Longobardi said the machines didn’t exist before.

The next thing was developing the market for the products that those custom-made machines would produce. Now, 20 years later, MTI’s products are in several big name original equipment (OE) manufacturing plants as well as several after market companies.

“Our materials are on spec at familiar places like GM, Chrysler and Ford,” Longobardi said. “We’re in Caterpillar, Cummins, Detroit Diesel. A lot of big ones, from stationary engines like Waukesha to palm sized like Weedeater and Ryobi. We service the small mom and pop garages up to the major corporations.”

The new building, with the potential for a third, has been necessitated by the continued growth of the company. That growth, however, has been more gradual than sudden, Longobardi said.

“We have been steadily adding our materials into the OEs and we’re in the after market as well,” Longobardi said. “Our growth has been adding our materialsinto these companies.” There is, however, another reason for the expansion. Longobardi is anticipating the addition of two new product lines in the coming year.

The existing 15,000-square-foot facility is located at the corner of Lawler Avenue and Brooks Road. The new complex will take up the north side of Brooks from Lawler to River Street. It will have its own road system with ample parking and truck space.

Initially, the offices andproduction lines will move into the new 40,000-squarefoot building at the corner of Brooks and River. The new building will house what has been in the current building. The older building will be used for storage.

A third building, of 30,000 square feet, may eventually be built between the two. For now, though, that lot will be put back in to green space.

Ground broke on the project in late May. While construction was going on all summer, an unexpected issue with ground water slowed the pace. After making provisions for that, adding a lot of cost and using up a lot of time, Longobardi is hoping the structure will be done by next May.

“They’ll work when they can this winter,” Longobardi said. “Regardless, we are not planning on moving until next spring some time.”

Longobardi also joked that he will be putting a sign on the new building, perhaps the same one that never got put up 20 years ago. That will, undoubtedly, be a welcome addition to truckers and visitors alike.

After 20 years in the same building, Longobardi knows what he wants in the new one. He’s acting as the contractor himself, with design and construction by King Construction of Iowa Falls and other companies. He said it’s going to be sealed up tight and as “green” as possible using technology and materials not available in 1994. He also noted that the building will help MTI continue to grow and reach deeper into the market.

“I think it will help our breadth in the market place be much stronger and wider,” Longobardi said. “And it will help the company, city, county and state because we take nothing out. It’s all in. When we ship to China and India or California and Texas or wherever, that’s money coming in to pay salaries and taxes and other things. It’s all an economic benefit to Iowa Falls, Hardin County, the state of Iowa.”

For more information contact Corey at mmeints@iafalls.com.