BW Manufacturing LLC
BW Manufacturing thrives by building most of its machines itself.
By Alan Dorich, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Publishing
BW Manufacturing LLC is a business focused on more than just selling machines. “It’s a genuine company in the sense that we truly care about our customers and their success,” General Manager Darrel Miller Jr. declares. “We do what we can to really help the customers.”
Based in Comstock Park, Mich., the company manufactures surface preparation equipment for the building, restoration and maintenance industries, as well as utility plants, manufacturing plants and the U.S. Armed Forces. Founder Bruce Williams started the company in 1996.
A longtime veteran of the floor coating industry, Williams thought of the idea for the company when he became dissatisfied with the equipment that was available at that time. “He realized he could build better equipment and did so in his home garage,” Miller explains.
Over the years, Williams built BW Manufacturing on a slow and steady pace, delivering machines that were more versatile than those offered by his competitors. “The biggest thing was the landmark design [of] the interchangeable heads on the ride-on machine,” Miller says. “No one in the industry had that until two years ago.”
Williams also made machines that were user friendly. With his background as a mechanic, “He made them very easy to maintain and operate,” Miller says, noting that BW Manufacturing’s machines can be repaired with a handful of tools. “It’s not an overly complicated machine to work on.”
A Broad Reach
Today, BW Manufacturing has established a niche in the concrete sector with its products, which include shot blasters, diamond grinder/polishers, dust containment systems and scarifying equipment. Miller notes that the company’s clients include large construction firms that specialize in roadway, bridge deck, parking garage and airport runway projects.
“Our equipment can be seen anywhere on a highway across the country,” he says, adding that BW Manufacturing’s customers also include smaller contractors that do garage floors, residential projects, pool decks and sidewalks. “We also incorporate a lot of municipalities and DOTs.”
He adds that the majority of BW Manufacturing’s work comes from repeat business. “These machines are self-destructive in the way they either shot blast or scarify,” Miller says. “[Users] will need a fair amount of parts in the maintenance process.
“Once you have a machine of ours, there will be repeat business in the replacement parts,” he continues. We just don’t sell them a machine and that’s the end of it. We’re here for the entire time that they own the machine. We take pride in building and maintaining long-lasting relationships with our customers.”
BW Manufacturing also provides service with a personal touch. For example, through the company’s 24-hour tech line, “We still answer the phone directly,” he says. “We do not have automated phone service.”
Made in America
Quality is a major focus for BW Manufacturing, which has driven the company to perform 95 percent of its manufacturing in house. At its location in Comstock Park, “We cut out the parts with a high definition plasma table,” Miller says.
The company also forms and welds parts and assembles everything itself. “That gives us a stronger hold on quality control, and allows us to reinforce the fact that our equipment is made here in America,” he declares.
BW Manufacturing also is focused on continuous improvement in its manufacturing. Currently, “We are actually in the beginning phases of introducing lean,” he reports, adding that the company also has integrated sustainable practices in its work.
“All of our gas-powered equipment meets the current regulations for emissions,” Miller says, adding that its ride-on equipment meets the regulations for Tier 4 emission standards.
Another recent focus included meeting the OSHA regulations for dust containment. “We have worked really hard at supplying bags and dust containment accessories for our customers to help them meet [the standards],” he adds.
A Winning Team
Miller joined BW Manufacturing in 2004 after working for a hardwood flooring distributor. He credits the company’s success to its staff, which includes fabricators, welders, assemblers, inside and outside sales, shipping and receiving associates, and administrative staff. “It’s not possible without the entire team,” he says.
When hiring, he notes, BW Manufacturing looks for specific traits from its applicants, including the ability to adapt to its work environment. “[You need] a good personality, a good skill set and just fit into our culture of it being a good place to work,” he says.
Miller also takes pride in how BW Manufacturing has thrived in its market, despite its small size. “Our two main competitors are quite large,” he says. “We take them head on out there in the field.”
But BW Manufacturing has persevered, managing to expand and achieve brand recognition with consumers. “Those are the things that as we’re growing that I’m proud of,” he says.
He sees a strong future ahead for BW Manufacturing, which will grow as the industry develops more innovations for products. “[We’ll also focus on] maintaining our dedicated service of our customers,” he adds.