The allure of Silicon Valley beckoned, and proved to be an almost magnetic force.
In 1983, fresh off earning a bachelor’s degree in foreign service in international economics from Georgetown University and an MBA from Columbia Business School over a seven-year period, Jim Frings’ heart sought to migrate to the West Coast to kick start his post-collegiate career.
“I went to school out east,"” said Frings, a Wisconsin native, “and then, I wanted to go to Silicon Valley. Unfortunately, the lowest job offer I had was the company — Intel — I wanted to work for the most. So, I took the lowest offer, and in the six years I worked at Intel, I had five different jobs, ranging from rudimentary finance all the way up to pretty sophisticated international joint ventures."
Fast forward nearly three decades later and Frings stands as the proprietor of a manufacturer supplying products on an international scale and growing at a level well above the industry average.
Although not working in the shadows of Silicon Valley as initially envisioned, the business principles he learned out west have spearheaded the development and foundation of Frings’ company, G3 Industries: establishing a niche, adding tangible value to customers and never ceasing to develop and evolve within an ever-changing business climate.
Located at 1450 Don’s Way in Kronewetter, G3 Industries, according to Frings, “makes wire forms, machine components, laser parts, tube fabrications and welded and non-welded assemblies. Some combination of those components.”
Originally founded in Weston in 1976 under the name Wire Maid Manufacturing (its name for the ensuing three decades), G3 Industries caters to clients primarily within the forestry, outdoor power, construction and agricultural equipment industries both near and far.
“Wisconsin is a very large state for us [in terms of customers],” said Frings, who purchased the business in 1993. “We are also big in the southeast, New York and various other places across the country. From an international standpoint, that is mainly plants of large customers overseas. We ship to Poland, Brazil, China, Germany, Thailand. We ship all over the place.”
As a manufacturer of custom OEM components and assemblies (in which 95 percent of the tooling is completed in house), the bandwidth of G3 Industries’ production capabilities leaves little to no stone left unturned. Overall, the company is home to CNC machining (horizontal and vertical), 2D and 3D (sheet, tube, pipe and structural shapes) fabrications, dual turret and dual spindle CNC lathes, short-run stamping (tooled and un tooled), welding (robotic, resistance, MIG and JIG), and value-added assemblies, such as kitting, gaskets and adding wire harnesses, among other things.
“Wire forms have always been the dominant part [of the business],” Frings said. “Over the years, however, our customers asked us to do more things. They asked us to get into cold heading, then tube fabrication, then welding and so on. So, almost everything we incorporated into the business we did as our customers pushed us into it.”
To harness such depth, Frings purchased RoBand Corporation, a Menomonee Falls-based company, in 2006 to formally bring G3 Industries to its current state.
In addition to relocating to its current 100,000-square foot headquarters, the merger also added more strength in the machining area and further service offerings to its existing and prospective clientele.
“I would say that every day running a business is a challenge,” said Frings, who relocated back to Wisconsin in 1991 after working for an Oregon-based manufacturer, Phase One, in an operations management capacity for one-and-ahalf years, “but thankfully, we have had growth. In 1993, we had 30 employees, now we have almost 190. We were doing $2.3 million in sales then. Now, we have around $27 million, and in 1993, we were in a 20,000-square-foot facility. Now, we are five times that size. If you look at our industry over the years in which we’ve been in business, the growth collectively has been about two percent per year. We’ve grown faster than that.”
Aside from the products it creates, Frings said that the biggest conduit to such expansion has been his staff.
“We have people here who have an excellent work ethic, are creative and innovative," Frings said, “and I think that has really helped us grow faster than our competitors. Overall, if you have better people than your competitors, you're going to win and we do have great people. We are Wisconsin friendly, and I think that serves us well as we do business throughout the country and world.”
Considering the process undertook to become the proprietor of G3 Industries over a quarter of a century ago, such is a position that Frings continues to feel fortunate to be in.
Upon making the decision to run a business of his own in his native state, Frings took a thorough, long-term view in the evaluation of which business and industry made the most sense for him to transition into.
him to transition into. It was an evaluation that took nearly two years to complete.
“First, I had to find [a company] that I could actually buy with my saving — and my savings were pretty low,” Frings said. “I wanted to acquire a manufacturing company because there are so many numbers involved that you can manage the cost, labor input, material input and pricing to customers. I felt that was my best option to get some value going.”
From day one to the present, such value serves as a daily reminder of the combination of hard work, good fortune and a forward-thinking approach to business that has remained unchanged for Frings since taking over the company whose name has become known well beyond the confines of north central Wisconsin.
“I tend to live scared because we have a lot of competition both domestically and internationally,” Frings said. “So, trying to work within an environment like that is always challenging, but with the quality of our products, our staff and approach to customer service, I feel we will continue to differentiate ourselves in the industry.”