Jon Fontane is the founder of Metal Shop, a brand whose mission is to create rugged, unique, vintage inspired products with a modern touch.
Why does American made matter to you?
When thinking about a name for my new venture, the words “Metal Shop” instantly jumped out at me. Not long ago, almost all schools offered some sort of ‘shop’ type class. Wood work, metal work, automotive, etc. This is where creativity was born and passions for trades were ignited. The Metal Shop brand is about reliving the passion to create and doing it here with skilled, U.S.-based machinists. I couldn’t imagine not being able to be on the floor in one of my contract shops on an almost daily basis. The ability to see the process, to catch issues early on, and the flexibility offered by working locally is vital to Metal Shop’s success. The bottom line on why American made matters to Metal Shop is knowing that when my products come off that machine I can trust in the quality and care given during the manufacturing process.
What values drive your business decisions?
First and foremost, superior customer service. Products fail, problems happen, but the service that customer receives is what they remember when they think about doing business with you again. Beyond providing the best customer service, it’s all about quality. When I send every order out I am confident that my product is something that will last that customer a lifetime and perhaps even be a keepsake handed down from generation to generation.
What advice would you give to a start-up that plans to manufacture in the USA?
First, don’t expect to take over the world right away! It takes time, lots of it! Align yourself with affinity groups on social media, these folks will become your best customers and ambassadors. On the manufacturing end, try to stay local if you can. If you are able to find a local partner, build a real relationship with them. I consider myself very lucky that the two main shops I use both understand my brand and my unique needs. This has allowed me to control inventory costs and keep the growth of the brand organic. Working locally will also allow you to really learn and understand the manufacturing process, which will allow you to design products better in the future.
What are the benefits of manufacturing in the USA for your company?
There are many benefits to working with U.S.-based manufacturers and, in Metal Shop’s case, working with local manufacturers has allowed us to better control our inventory and expenses. Overseas production would not only require more capital, but it also means less control over the process. I’ve saved thousands of dollars be being able to spot design issues early on and make changes on the fly, and this is something that couldn’t have been done without being on site.
Do you have any future expansion plans?
Yes, always looking and experimenting with new prototypes to grow the Metal Shop product line up. Growth has and hopefully will always remain truly organic.
Is your company currently offering any promotions/discounts?
Yes! American Made Matters members and friends can use the code LOYALTY to save 15% on metalshopct.com.
Why did you join American Made Matters?
To both learn and network with an amazing group of like minded business owners and entrepreneurs.