By: Martha Conway
Mattessich Iron, LLC, a New York state-certified service-disabled, veteran-owned business (SDVOB), was founded in 2008 by now 39-year-old Michael Mattessich.
Mattessich said his love of metal work developed from
working on old muscle cars and motorcycles with his father. In 2018, Mattessich Iron was named Central New York’s third-largest service-disabled veteran-owned business by the CNY Business Journal.
Born and raised in Baldwinsville, Mattessich graduated Baker High School and enrolled in the United States Military Academy at West Point. After graduation, his military assignments took him to Missouri and Georgia.
He spent downtime sharpening the skills he learned while working with dad. He started with Harley Davidson frames and components and moved to welding and machining for local motorcycle dealers, restaurant kitchen maintenance, construction equipment repairs and service calls to Fort Benning when contractors needed steel.
After serving two tours of duty in Iraq, leaving his military service with the rank of captain and an injured hip, Mattessich took his combined education, construction experience and love of metal-working back to
in April 2008. He founded Mattessich Iron, LLC, now located at 1484 Route 31, Memphis.
Mattessich started out with a 4,000-square-foot fabrication shop. He upgraded equipment
and vehicles and started hiring well-versed welder/fabricators. The first projects were ornamental repairs, some mechanical repairs and equipment repairs.
“A lot of repair work and some construction,” Mattessich said. “It was daunting but also exciting and refreshing after leaving the military.”
He started out on his own.
“I added two people the first year, and two more after two years,” Mattessich said. “Once I gained a few employees, I used the Syracuse Builders Exchange to find public bid opportunities. I phased out repair work and equipment modification, leading me to the commercial and industrial fields where I wanted to be.”
Mattessich employs a full-time mechanic, multiple field crews and runs a night shift during the busiest times. Critical to the smooth operation of the business and project rollout is his management team including himself, wife and vice president Danielle Mattessich and Operations Manager Kelly Ormsby, an Army veteran.
“He’s a 40-year steel man, and I had an inclination he could fill our newly created operations manager role,” he said.
Danielle graduated from State University of New York Environmental Science and Forestry with a Bachelor of Science degree in 2011.
“After graduation, I was hired by a local company as a project manager/environmental scientist, where I specialized in groundwater remediation clean-ups,” Danielle said. “While at the environmental company, I also worked on meth lab clean-ups for the NSYDEC and train derailments for CSX. As much as I enjoyed the field, I decided to make the move to Mattessich Iron in 2013.”
She said the creation and follow-through of company systems and policies are major focus areas for her.
“These have ranged from human resource policies and contract administration to operational policies such as inventory tracking and product shipment,” she said, adding that when she joined Mattessich Iron, Mike was finding the work, estimating, managing each project and recruiting the talent. “At first, our priority was to use my accounting and project management background to set up systems and start developing answers to the ‘how-to’ questions to streamline processes.
“Today, I play defense in operations by maintaining efficiency and tracking costs. I also create the company’s annual budgets and manage monthly finances.”
“Danielle brought a heightened level of planning and organization to the business,” Mattessich said. “Her professional background in environmental contracting has improved the company’s efficiency in legal considerations, human and business resources, manpower and financial matters.”
Ormsby said he started his career at Solvay Iron.
“I started as a second-shift foreman in the fabrication shop and worked my way up to president of the company,” Ormsby said.” I have done it all – from sweeping the floors to signing the checks – and I believe that no job is more important than the other: They all must work in harmony.
“I was a shop supervisor, field supervisor, director of operations, vice president and president. In 2004, I started Ormsby Iron Works, Inc., and ran my company until the economy fell in 2009. I closed the company in 2010, went back to Solvay Iron until it closed in 2013, then started Ormsby Iron, LLC, and ran that until I had a stroke in 2016. After recovering, I came to Mattessich in March 2019.
“I have multiple welding certifications, I have a CDL tractor-trailer and crane operator license.”
Ormsby is the operations manager and chief estimator.
“I put together 90 percent of all projects we quote,” he said. “I also hire out-source detailers, process shop and field drawings and schedule shop production. I perform project management until the job hits the field. Mike Mattessich takes it from there. He takes care of all field meetings, field measuring and field troubleshooting.
“Mike and Danielle Mattessich are the most honest and willing people I’ve ever worked with,” Ormsby said. “They are the first to accept fault and reason for every issue the company faces and work through the problem with the source. Their willingness to listen to their employees, take all the information and make the best decision for the company tells me Mattessich Iron will be around for years to come.
“With the path Mattessich Iron is on, I see the company being the go-to fabricator-erector in Central New York, taking the lion’s share of the market for this area for structural and miscellaneous steel.”
Mattessich said Ken Millward, maintenance mechanic, keeps the vehicles, trucks, lift assets and machinery in good working order, and performs periodic maintenance on shop machinery.
“He also makes site visits to fix equipment in the field,” Mattessich said.
Mattessich said things may be humming now, but in the beginning, it took many bids to start landing jobs and building relationships with general contractors.
“In 2017, we moved to our new facility, complete with two floors of newly built offices, inventory and break room space,” Mattessich said. “The original offices and plant floor were too crowded, and the existing property didn’t allow for expansion.”
He said the new shop floor expanded from 4,000 square feet to 14,000 square feet, providing more workspace and room for machinery to help keep up with the growing number of projects.
“We added a maintenance department, in-house estimator, in-house drafters with 3D capability and increased our project manager positions to offer greater efficiency, capability and quality for our customers,” he said.
He credits his top-notch staff; how does he find them?
“Generally, I interview everyone,” Mattessich said. “Our employees are the most important facet of the business. Talent is good, but I think attitude is more important than talent. You can train anyone to bolt, weld or run a forklift, but you can’t train attitude. I look for positive, team-oriented people who have a good work ethic.
“I’m also proud to employ a number of veterans,” Mattessich said. “Our employees are the backbone of the business.”
Mattessich said the military taught him not to ask subordinates to do anything he wouldn’t do himself.
“I work hard to make sure employees don’t feel out of place with something we ask of them,” he said. “Our people are our most important resource. We can rent or buy anything we need, but not our staff. They are running the machines and equipment. They are making the business a success.”
Mattessich said he tries to talk to every employee at least once every week in the field, shop, and office.
“It’s really important to me that our team members get the attention they deserve and our appreciation for what they are doing for our group,” he said. “I ask them in the field and in the plant if there is anything, any equipment, that will help them do a better job. Do they need anything more to work better in the field, fabricate better, improve quality control?
“I talk with our mechanic to find out what’s giving him problems and get those things replaced. I try to get out and help with installs during our busiest months. It helps maintain team cohesiveness.”
Mattessich said shop fabricators receive the steel from the mill and cut, drill, bend, weld, polish or paint the material following shop drawings and construction prints.
Mattessich Iron provides complete design and fabrication of all ferrous and non-ferrous metals, offering in-house design, fabrication, finishing, delivery, and installation of all work, performing private and public work in all but the most remote corners of New York state.
Mattessich is well-versed in structural steel and miscellaneous metals fabrication, including – but not limited to – beams, columns, decking, ladders, stairs, handrails, bollards, mezzanines, catwalks, and general weld repairs, more specifically:
- Designing: AutoCAD 2-dimension, Advanced Revit 3-dimension, delegated design review, stamped engineer review and AISC standard connections and calculations
- Metal Joining: GMAW (MIG), GTAW (TIG), SMAW (ARC), brazing and soldering
- Reducing: Plasma cutting and oxy-fuel cutting up to 1-1/4” thick, bandsaw cutting up to 18” x 22”, shearing up to 3/8” thick by 12 feet long, 110-ton hole punching up to 1-1/4” thick
- Shaping: Metal turning, 300-ton press brake forming up to ¾” thick on a 12-foot bed, threading, tube and pipe bending and notching
- Finishing: Timesaver drum polishing up to 36” wide; painting, powder coating; galvanizing and anodizing
“Field crews receive the end product and maneuver it to the work area and use forklifts, cranes, material lifts, chainfalls, winches and other rigging devices to erect each item,” he said. “They assemble pieces according to erection drawings and contract plans.”
He said a typical job runs from $2,000 to $2 million.
Looking forward, Mattessich is considering automating beam and column work by adding CNC machines and possibly having to expand the plant and office space and increase field crew members.
“I think operations could still use improvement,” Mattessich said. “Now that we have quality heightened and procedures established, we have the luxury of focusing on streamlining and automating.”
Mattessich said the project of which he is proudest is Batavia Downs Casino.
“We did a spiral staircase with a structural circular cutout and-two-sided picket rails around the opening” he said. “It was a product of my own design, detailing, layout and eventually installation, and the result was that it all went together almost perfectly.”
He also is proud to be part of bringing to life a national-level facility: National Veterans Resource Center in Syracuse.
“It makes me proud as a veteran to have bid and executed a project that is for veterans, military personnel and those training to join the military,” Mattessich said.
He said another proud moment was completion of Mattessich’s part of the work in building LeMoyne College’s stadium.
“We did that during one of the first years in business,” he said. “I felt like I was in over my head, but I was working with a general contractor I was comfortable enough with to join the project. We worked great together.”
Mattessich said he has been lucky; the pandemic has not affected his company’s supply or workload.
“We chose to shut down operations for several weeks until the state could provide us with guidance,” he said. “I wanted to keep our employees safe. I am skeptical about budget impacts on projects a year or two out; schools, prisons, government buildings, colleges, apartment complexes and most other commercial and industrial entities will likely maintain reduced mid-term budgets.”
Mattessich said though he is a hands-on supervisor, his responsibilities have shifted greatly since his boots hit the ground 12 years ago.
“We started with keeping our heads above water and then moved toward more long-term planning,” he said, adding that he’d like to expand Mattessich’s presence in the North Country and Southern Tier regions, paying close attention to bid invitations from qualified general contractors there and developing competitive quotes.
“I want to exit my career having built a national-level fabricating business,” Mattessich said when asked about what legacy he wants to leave. “I want to have a positive impact on the central New York community. I thought success would mean after 10 years or so, I would have five employees and be fortunate enough to be able to pay the bills.”
Twelve years out, Mattessich Iron employs 30 to 40 people throughout the year and is on track to do $7 million in sales this year.
“We are a service-disabled, veteran-owned business seeking invitations to bid from qualified general contractors, designers and owners in order to establish a successful working relationship with superior service,” he said, adding that in 10 years, he would like to capture 20 percent market share for steel fabrication in central New York and the surrounding regions.
For more information, contact Mattessich Iron at 315.638.1419 or visit mattessichiron.com.