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Finalist for Small Business Awards - Stevenson's History of Innovation

Old ShopStevenson Company is a finalist for a Small Business Award, recognizing a solid history of creating innovative products. Russell Stevenson bought a small tin shop in 1952 and advertised in the local business directory: "Sheet Metal Work of All Kinds." The business was located in a former stable. Though our facilities have been updated tremendously since then, we have remained at the same location. We have expanded to a total of 15,500 square feet and armed ourselves with state-of-the-art metalworking equipment.

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Buying Local Actually Saves Money

steve and mark in new officeWhen Stevenson Company, Inc. decided it was time to modernize their facilities, dedication to local sourcing was paramount. "We grew up in Topeka. Our innovative products ship worldwide, but it all started by working with local food plants, supplying high quality specialty fabrications," said Joe Pennington, president of the family business. "We wanted to extend that same loyalty to our community partners." Stevenson fabricates Spiral Chutes - think a playground slide sized for chips or candy - for global leaders in the food production market.

Matt Pivarnik, President & CEO of the Greater Topeka Partnership, said "If Shawnee County businesses pledge to shift just 3% of their out of market purchasing to our local market it could improve employment and have an economic impact of up to $200 million, so we initiated a campaign called “TSC3.” When we approached Stevenson's with the proposal, they immediately pledged their wholehearted support."

"We started sourcing locally when the project began, and prices were unexpectedly lower. The quality of services was outstanding," said Pennington. He said buying office furniture locally resulted in a 40% savings when compared to internet vendors. Service providers, such as the alarm company, were on site within minutes. "Three percent seemed a low threshold, so we challenged ourselves to procure exclusively from home town suppliers and contractors." Electrical, plumbing, lighting, networking, computers, painting, concrete, and signage contracts were all awarded to Topeka merchants. "These people are our neighbors, so it is satisfying to contribute to their entrepreneurial success."

Mayor Michelle De La Isla said, "I am proud of the commitment Joe and his team have put forth; not only to be an active citizen and business in our city, his love for the community is yet again exemplified by his commitment to supporting local businesses.”

The shop office renovations at Stevenson Company feature standing workstations, technology improvements, and a refurbished customer counter. The focal point is a larger than life mural depicting teammates forming stainless steel parts, soldering metal at the Statehouse, and fabricating their signature product, a stainless-steel Spiral Chute. Emblazoned above the doorway in bold letters are their hallmarks, "Quality, Innovation, and Craftsmanship."

What's next for the crew at Stevenson Company? "Back to work," said Pennington, "enhancing shelf appeal, eliminating waste, and improving the bottom line for our customers. We will also be introducing our services to tree nut processors, pet food makers, and the coffee world. Need to keep those whole beans whole, right?"

How Patriots Revolutionized the American Metal Industry

paul revere statue

Should America produce its own metal? Paul Revere thought so. Although the patriot is much better known for his midnight ride alerting the Colonial Militia of British attack, he made his livelihood as a metalworker. He cast brass bells for churches, crafted silver jugs for dairy, and fashioned copper lanterns for - well, "One if by land, two if by sea."

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"Men of Metal" art show

thumb Joe P with toothpick at art receptionYou probably know me as president of Stevenson Company. What you may not know is that I paint on scraps of steel. “Men of Metal” is my first art exhibit and I was delighted so many of you could be among the first to see it at the VIP reception.

On the first Friday of each month Haven Arts, a local gallery, throws open its doors to the public. This weekend happened to debut my homage to the people who work at Stevenson Company. Each piece showcases a craftsman in the sheet metal trade. Silhouettes were laid out and cut using a plasma torch, then detailed using oil paint.

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5 Interesting Facts About Steel Production - from Fabtech 2016

Liquid Steel from Ladle1. New steel is made from dirt. Magnets pluck iron ore from the displaced earth. The resulting rocks are blasted for sixteen hours at temperatures of about 2700 degrees. Then the molten slop is poured into plates about 9 inches thick.

2. All steel alloys come from the same batter. Stainless steel is made by adding nickel and chromium to the mixture. Galvanized is made by ladling zinc onto the surface.

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What I Owe Gene Wilder

wonkaWilly Wonka's "pure imagination" inspires me to make the most of my time inside food plants and here at the tinker shop.

Willy Wonka first struck me as darkly mysterious, the way Roald Dahl originally intended. My wife, on the other hand, considered the candy maker a quirky inventor. Left to my own preferences, I never would have allowed my children to be exposed to the harsh vetting process he required of his would-be successors: shot like a torpedo through a tube; injestion of a strange allergen that left its victim bloated and blue; or floating into a trap that sucked people into whirling blades.

Our kids wouldn't be deprived of the Wonka magic, though. My outlook began to sweeten during the reintroduction. By then our children had the Gene Wilder version permanently installed in the video player, stuck like Augustus Gloop in a pneumatic tube.

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Spiral Chutes Are Safe Way to Handle Food Product

 

Wrigley Spiral with CoverAre Spiral Chutes a safe way to convey food? Consumers rightly demand that what we eat is handled safely. The short and definite answer is yes, a Spiral Chute -- as designed and manufactured by Stevenson Company -- is an ideal method to safely move product.

Standards change for the better, and Stevenson Company is leading the way with cleanable, food-safe materials and workmanship. Spiral Chutes are compliant with regulations set forth by the United States government. Specifically, the Food and Drug Administration has detailed codes to ensure sanitary practices, the latest being the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The full text is available online, but to simplify we narrowed down the sections relevant to Spiral Chutes; below we address how FDA standards are met:

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George Hart installs sculpture at Bartlett and West park

Downtown Installation with Brendan and StephenBartlett and West commissioned artist George Hart to design a sculpture for their downtown park. We at Stevenson Company were tickled to get to work with such a creative team. We have been working with the engineers and mathematician since September. The project culminated in the final installation late last week.  

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Christmastime at the Metal Shop

joe-and-tree-2-littleHaving a shop in Noto has its perks. For one thing, our proximity to the North Pole means we will be getting our presents delivered on time. Another nice thing is that we are smack dab in the middle of Topeka’s arts scene. We get to enjoy all the groovy holiday creations of our neighbors, and pitch in a little of our own. This year, our craftsmen raised up a tree made from some green copper leftover from a certain Statehouse project we did.

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Stevenson Company Celebrates Veterans Day With Tegan Robinson

Tegan and Joe P on Veterans DayJoe Pennington & Sgt. Tegan RobinsonStevenson Company is honored to support our veterans. We are fortunate to be associated with Sergeant Tegan Robinson. Sgt Robinson began his career at Stevenson Company in 2008. His skills, dedication, and sparkling personality quickly earned him a place in the apprenticeship program.  

The following year he enlisted with the National Guard. Training was suspended while Sgt Robinson was deployed overseas for several months. Managers, supervisors, coworkers gratefully covered for him while he protected our freedoms. We appreciate the values, leadership, and unique skills that he brought upon his return. Sgt Robinson recently signed on for another six years in the military, and we couldn’t be more proud. We continue to support our country’s Service members and their families in peace, in crisis, and in war. Thank you to Sgt Tegan Robinson and all the veterans of this great country.