Michael Hudson, the owner of Heartland Fabrication & Machine, Inc., refers to his business as a “job shop” specializing in machining, fabrication and the distribution of production supplies. His Native American-owned firm has clients from coast to coast, building everything from components for manufacturers to precision metal parts to finished products. Located in a 26,000 square foot facility in the Kansas City suburb of Raytown, Missouri, he now employs 17 people, but this level of success was not always the case.
When Mr. Hudson purchased Heartland in 1997, he acquired a two-person business operating in a 1,200 square foot facility with only two customers. Along the way he encountered many obstacles and hardships; in 2003, when the price of steel spiked and many manufacturers had to absorb the full impact, Heartland came very close to going out of business.
“We were able to get a SBA loan, which helped us to remain open,” said Hudson. ”SBA’s guarantee allowed the banks to be more aggressive in funding a loan for Heartland.”
Realizing there are many facets to owning and operating a business, Hudson knew he needed to not only an SBA loan, but other services the SBA offers as well. He took the steps to certify Heartland Fabrication & Machine, Inc. in the SBA’s 8(a) business development program. The 8(a) program provides managerial and technical assistance to participating firms and access to government contracting opportunities. While in the program, Heartland has received several federal contracts.
“These contracts saved my company. Not only were they instrumental in turning the company around, they also helped us build relationships that resulted in other contracts,” said Hudson.
So where does the “job shop with a heart” come from? Hudson located his expanded facility in an industrial area in Raytown, determined to create jobs in a distressed community.
“Seeing one of my manufactured products in use is always a reward; however, the biggest reward comes from watching your long-term employees become financially able to buy their own home. It is just a wonderful feeling to know that my company helped someone get a piece of the American dream,” he proudly says.
He believes that Heartland is fortunate to have remained a viable business after surviving the recent economic downturn and is confident his business will continue to grow. He advises up-and-coming entrepreneurs to learn about available resources and never to be afraid to ask for help. He notes that using SBA programs and services is a smart way to enhance chances for success. He says, “Go SBA!”