Towers of Power
Ventower Industries Sees High Demand for Products in 2013-2014
Ventower Industries has been
generating a lot of positive press lately. The wind turbine tower supplier and
fabricator (and part of the GLWN wind energy supply chain network) has seen its
business skyrocket in 2013, due in part to the renewal of the Production Tax
Credit at the beginning of this year.
The company has responded to a surge in business by adding work shifts and
hiring staff at its 115,000- square-foot Monroe, Michigan plant, according to
Ventower vice president, Scott Viciana, who took time out of a hectic schedule
to comment on his company's successes in a "Supplier Spotlight"
question-and-answer session with GLWN.
Can you provide a brief description of what Ventower Industries does?
Ventower Industries is a full service fabricator and supplier of utility and
distributed-scale, wind turbine towers. Focused on original equipment
manufacturers and wind project developers, we offer many unique and competitive
advantages for our customers.
Does the company only supply the onshore wind sector, or do you also supply
the offshore wind sector?
Currently, we've only fabricated for onshore applications. However, we are
committed to servicing the offshore industry. Our direct port access in Monroe,
MI will allow us to enter the market as our East Coast plans for a second plant
Are you supplying the domestic market, or is the company also supplying the
Ventower makes components for the domestic market only at the present time.
Strong inquiries in export opportunities have recently presented themselves,
Can you talk about any projects the company is currently involved with?
Ventower is currently into serial production runs with towers destined for
projects throughout the Great Lakes Region.
GLWN played a part in getting Ventower connected with such developers as One
Energy and Aeronautica Windpower. Can you comment on how those projects came
These projects were developed based on a domestic, regional preference for
towers. In addition, Ventower's Monroe, MI location was ideal for delivering
towers to Northwest Ohio. When the dollars and cents all lined up, it was full
Ventower has experienced an impressive uptick in business recently. To what
do you attribute this surge in business?
We attribute it to the renewal in the Production Tax Credit (PTC). Also,
several of our regional projects were developed with RPS (state-mandated
Renewable Portfolio Standards) fulfillment implications.
What are some of the barriers that the company has experienced in its recent
growth spurt? (i.e., workforce, technology, logistics, supply chain, materials,
One of the major hurdles has been acquiring qualified labor for particular
competencies, especially qualified welders. Also, "stop-starts" in business as a
result of national policy instability have been a major issue as well, which has
hampered planning altogether.
What has the company done to alleviate those barriers?
We've broadened our range of search for qualified labor, while still being
committed to regional prospects and hires.
The success of your company has been compared with the uptick in the wind
industry as a whole. How would you assess the current state of the industry?
Regionally, the industry looks bright for the next couple of years. PTC and
state level RPS's will affect direction of growth past that. Additionally, based
on Ventower's location, we have seen an increase in interest in exporting towers
What do you attribute the industry growth to?
RPS thresholds approaching in the region, plus clarity on the PTC late last
What role is technology playing at the company?
Technology and efficiency is what allows our company to differentiate itself.
Steel is steel. All tower manufacturers deal with the ups and downs in pricing.
But how efficiently we can process the material with minimal variance is what we
strive for on a daily basis.
What changes in the industry are impacting your business right now?
Turbine technology and higher hub heights are affecting us. This is allowing
regions in the U.S., especially in the Great Lakes areas and Northeast, to
become very viable in wind development.
Are you still competing for domestic business with foreign producers?
In recent months, I would say 'yes', but that competition has decreased
Are there any "lessons learned" from the your supply chain that we can pass
on to our readers?
Metric dimensions are helpful to utilize, and understanding European specs
and their equivalencies are helpful.
What does Ventower look for in a supplier?
The key things we look for in a supplier are reliability, cost, visibility
and a solid track record.
How has GLWN helped Ventower in the past?
GLWN has provided OEM and sub-tier promotions and connections via A to B
contacts or via project opportunities.
What's the value you see in being part of the GLWN supply chain network?
GLWN has helped build a network of regional manufacturers that are all
interested in the success and revitalization of manufacturing here in the U.S.
Ventower appreciates GLWN's efforts within the wind industry.
Scott J. Viciana, Vice President
111 Borchert Park Drive, PO Box 589
Monroe, MI 48161
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