Towers of Power

Ventower Industries Sees High Demand for Products in 2013-2014


Ventower Tower

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.

[GLWN]:
Can you provide a brief description of what Ventower Industries does?

[SCOTT VICIANA]:
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.

[GLWN]:
Does the company only supply the onshore wind sector, or do you also supply the offshore wind sector?

[SV]:
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 solidify.

[GLWN]:
Are you supplying the domestic market, or is the company also supplying the foreign market?

[SV]:
Ventower makes components for the domestic market only at the present time. Strong inquiries in export opportunities have recently presented themselves, though.

[GLWN]:
Can you talk about any projects the company is currently involved with?

[SV]:
Ventower is currently into serial production runs with towers destined for projects throughout the Great Lakes Region.

[GLWN]:
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 about?

[SV]:
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 steam ahead.

[GLWN]:
Ventower has experienced an impressive uptick in business recently. To what do you attribute this surge in business?

[SV]:
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.

[GLWN]:
What are some of the barriers that the company has experienced in its recent growth spurt? (i.e., workforce, technology, logistics, supply chain, materials, policy/legislation, etc.)

[SV]:
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.

[GLWN]:
What has the company done to alleviate those barriers?

[SV]:
We've broadened our range of search for qualified labor, while still being committed to regional prospects and hires.

[GLWN]:
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?

[SV]:
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 via water.

[GLWN]:
What do you attribute the industry growth to?

[SV]:
RPS thresholds approaching in the region, plus clarity on the PTC late last year.

[GLWN]:
What role is technology playing at the company?

[SV]:
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.

[GLWN]:
What changes in the industry are impacting your business right now?

[SV]:
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.

[GLWN]:
Are you still competing for domestic business with foreign producers?

[SV]:
In recent months, I would say 'yes', but that competition has decreased considerably.

[GLWN]:
Are there any "lessons learned" from the your supply chain that we can pass on to our readers?

[SV]:
Metric dimensions are helpful to utilize, and understanding European specs and their equivalencies are helpful.

[GLWN]:
What does Ventower look for in a supplier?

[SV]:
The key things we look for in a supplier are reliability, cost, visibility and a solid track record.

[GLWN]:
How has GLWN helped Ventower in the past?

[SV]:
GLWN has provided OEM and sub-tier promotions and connections via A to B contacts or via project opportunities.

[GLWN]:
What's the value you see in being part of the GLWN supply chain network?

[SV]:
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.

CONTACT:
Scott J. Viciana, Vice President
Ventower Industries
111 Borchert Park Drive, PO Box 589
Monroe, MI 48161
734.682.4001
www.ventower.com


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