Jason Czajkowski, left, and John Maxson believe Genzink Steel’s nondestructive testing division is critical to many of the firm’s heavy plate fabrication jobs. Photo by Johnny Quirin
Recently, John Maxson had contractors in his Genzink Steel office nearly every day.
The contractors were there for nondestructive testing, or NDT — a necessity for Genzink Steel’s increasing work in providing heavy plate fabrication for mining, defense, oil and gas, and other industries that could cause harm if products fail.
Genzink Steel is 54 years old, but in the past 10 years or so, the company has added several graduates of Ferris State University’s welding engineering technology program, and has trained other individuals to be certified welding inspectors — as Maxson said: “to raise the bar within our organization by blending the ‘art’ and the ‘science’ behind the art.”
The new skilled employees are needed for Genzink’s heavy plate fabrication, leading to the company’s growing reputation as a supplier of large complex steel subcomponents and complete fabrications. Maxson expects Genzink’s heavy plate fabrication will make up 58 percent of the fiscal year’s forecasted $31 million in revenue.
Nondestructive testing is critical in many of Genzink’s heavy plate fabrication jobs because a failure in the product can result in a human or environmental catastrophe. Because of its uses, much of Genzink’s work must pass inspections by Certified Level II inspectors.
“You cannot have failures. There is no room for error,” Maxson said.
“We had many of the basic qualified people and training in place, but we did not have the necessary leadership and experience to take us to the next level and be able to self-perform these inspections.”
The costs became so expensive, Maxson decided it would be worth starting a division for NDT within Genzink Steel to take control of expenditures and possibly turn it into a revenue stream. He said the company had spent more than $250,000 to subcontract NDT services the previous year.
“As we continue to migrate to these clients, we continue to be held at a higher standard for quality,” Maxson said. “Our spending requirements on the NDT became so much we decided to hire someone within.”
In December, Maxson brought on retired U.S. Navy welder Jason Czajkowski to start Genzink NDT. Czajkowski has more than 23 years of fabrication and NDT experience in shipbuilding, repair, petrochemical, refinery and power plant inspection.
Czajkowski said his training programs in the Navy were lengthy, and he has been recertified several times. He said the American Society of Non-Destructive Testing requires minimum training hours and three tests to become certified.
Once completed, thousands more hours of on-the-job training are required to become an independent inspector — something many companies overlook, according to Czajkowski.
“The amount of training it takes to become a certified ASNT Level II is intensive,” Czajkowski said. “Corners weren’t cut and company investments were stretched to adhere to specific guidelines.”
Maxson said Genzink invested more than $40,000 in advanced training certifications, as well as $30,000 in new equipment. The costs do not include hiring Czajkowksi, who had been working in Corpus Christi, Texas, before relocating to West Michigan to start Genzink NDT.
NDT includes a variety of tests to ensure the final products are safe to use. Inspections begin with a visual inspection, but also include chemical, ultrasonic and infrared to check for cracks and leaks. Other tests include pressure vessel and silo inspections, moisture intrusion and lead detection.
Genzink NDT currently has six employees trained in the various NDT services, and the company has passed two audits from California’s National Oil Well Varco and Texas’ FMC Technologies. With the certifications Genzink NDT holds, the company can complete work internally as well as offer its services to companies across the globe.
Maxson said there are a few other companies, on the east side of the state, that offer NDT services; however Genzink is one of the only companies that both fabricates and also offers NDT services.
Initially, Maxson said he hoped the NDT crew would see 25 percent of its work externally, but said the capabilities they’ve shown make him anxious to edge closer to 50 percent, especially as the company looks to hire more employees certified in welding and NDT procedures.
With Czajkowski’s background in the U.S. Navy, Genzink NDT currently is consulting in a shipyard in San Diego. Prospective work could also come from other shipyards, power plants and oil rigs. Maxson said he’ll be connecting with the U.S. Coast Guard in Grand Haven for potential repair work and NDT, as well as with a shipyard in Wisconsin.
Genzink previously has done work for the Coast Guard, Maxson said.
Plenty of new work for both Genzink Steel and Genzink NDT will come from a growing relationship with FMC Technologies, the largest supplier of subsea systems in the world. The need for Genzink’s fabrication has led to a strengthened relationship as FMC seeks to reduce costs and lead times.
According to Maxson, in April Genzink’s relationship with FMC Technologies put it into the system of preferred suppliers because of the quality of products and high level of service over the past several years.
“(It) will direct certain products immediately to Genzink Steel as the demand requirement is seen by their purchasing departments,” he said. “This also adds Genzink Steel to the FMC global supply base and opens opportunities to supply FMC facilities anywhere in the world.”
Initially, Maxson said the focus will be on letting local clients know NDT services can be provided from a local company.
Genzink Steel, which has 150 employees, is currently educating its sales force so it can start opening dialogue with customers about the new services. Genzink NDT’s prospective customers will range from fellow fabricators in various industries to training programs for the company’s Certified Welding Educators.
The new services will also allow partnerships with contractors to utilize infrared thermography in electrical distribution inspections and heat loss or moisture intrusion inspections.
Genzink Steel’s fabrication business also is seeing a growing demand, beyond metal fabrication. Maxson said offerings include ensuring the integrity of weld joints, finishing, logistics, material certification, precision machining and traceability.
“We’re just starting to make the connections and spread our wings,” Maxson said. “We just kicked off in the last two weeks and are just getting started.”