Sep 17, 2016
Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City
Industry: Contract Manufacturing
Products: Custom Signs
From the outside, Allotech appears to be another sign company. And that’s certainly its origin. But Jason Bunker, Vice-President of Allotech and son of the founder, understands Allotech’s future is not engraved, in stone or any other material.
“My father, Lance Bunker, was the founder of Allotech. He started off this business in a small little shop pioneering an engraving process for name plates and plaques. But it has progressed beyond that. Today, it would be more accurate to say we are an artistic, fine art boutique. We really like to think of ourselves as high-class, artistic branding.”
“My father is still with the company, and he wishes we could go back to 1983,” Bunker laughs. “He thinks we are too busy now. We keep growing, and it makes him put off his retirement.”
All Allotech products are project-based, and the company serves clients all over the United States and internationally. “When we were smaller, we did more work out of state than in,” Bunker remembers. “In fact, 90 percent used to be out of state or even out of the country. We’ve grown so big that the local companies know us and seek us out. We are doing more local work.”
Allotech manufactures its products from raw sheet metal and sheet plastic. The company utilizes machines for some custom cutting and fabricating but the vast majority of a project is done by hand. “Our employees are artisans and fabricate each product by hand. There is a lot of labor involved in each product,” Bunker says.
“Some jobs are less demanding than others or are more routine,” he admits. “But most of our projects are one of a kind; they have never been made before. There is not even a specialty for it. We just go through a process of trial and error until it’s perfect. Sometimes we have to start all over again because it did not turn out right the first time, or the second.”
Allotech seeks out artisans who also understand engineering and other crafts. “Our employees have to be well-rounded in their experience,” admits Bunker. “We want them to be mechanically inclined, but we are also wanting them to understand design. We are demanding in the quality of people that we have work for us, and it shows in the quality of products we manufacture.”
Challenges: Scheduling. Because Allotech’s products require hands-on labor, each product takes time. “And it takes a lot of finesse,” adds Bunker. “But we still have to work around our client’s schedule and expectations. We are trying to create a piece of art for the client, and it takes time.” Allotch has invested in new computer programs which has helped speed up certain steps in the manufacturing process. “But the demand for our work has never declined. We are a year out on orders because our demand is so high.”
Opportunities: Bunker looks forward to new problems, which he sees as just new opportunities. “I like finding the solution to a problem no one else could figure out. A client comes to us with just an idea, and we produce exactly what they have in mind when they didn’t know how to do it. We don’t take shortcuts. We do not change their ideas to make it easier. We bring what they envision to life,” he says.
Needs: Talent. Like many other specialized businesses, Allotech struggles to right reliable, talented individuals. “Or even individuals we can withdraw talent from,” Bunker says. “We have employees who might not even know what they are capable of until we help them exert themselves and try. We show them they can make something out of nothing. That’s what we do. We start with nothing and manufacture a masterpiece.”
Alicia Cunningham is editor for CompanyWeek Utah. Contact Alicia here to inquire about having your manufacturing or supply-chain business profiled in CompanyWeek Utah.