GLENPOOL — Champagne Metals is without question the fastest-growing aluminum service center and processor in the country, President and CEO Michael Champagne said.
Next week the Glenpool-based company will celebrate the 80,000-square-foot expansion of its facility in Middlebury, Indiana, located just east of South Bend, as well as introduce the piece of equipment that sets it apart from competitors in a major way — a machine with the ability to cut aluminum up to 111 inches wide.
Company officials call it “The 111.”
“We name our machines by how wide they can cut,” Champagne said. “So we made ‘The 100’ wide and that was one of the biggest machines ever built for aluminum we built that in the last seven years here in Tulsa, and that put us on the map. We just built ‘The 111,’ and ‘The 111’ is probably the biggest machine ever built in the world to process aluminum.”
Champagne takes big coils of aluminum and makes sheets that the company’s customers then use to manufacture products that include tankers used by the oil and gas industry, trucks used for grain or cattle, dry vans like the ones used by FedEX and UPS and pontoon boats. Champagne’s niche is in cutting and processing sheets 72 inches wide and larger.
“If someone gets a box or a letter, or if someone eats bread or meat, or if they drive their car, it’s actually a company in Oklahoma — in Glenpool — that has supplied that,” Champagne said. “It even kind of surprises my wife and I.”
Michael and his wife, Kimberly, the company’s executive vice president, started Champagne Metals back in 1996 in their living room.
Michael had been with a large company that had just been through a merger, and he said that he didn’t like the way things were going and the way customers were being treated. So the couple decided he should strike out on his own. Their first customers were manufacturers of horse trailers.
“I went and talked to a couple of them, and they said if I could sell them the metal that they’d buy it from me,” he said. “So that’s what we did. It was pretty scary.”
Champagne will celebrate its 20th anniversary in August, and the company’s growth has been phenomenal.
Champagne now has stocking locations in Canada and Mexico, an 180,000-square-foot facility and just under 100 employees at its Glenpool headquarters, a 50,000-square-foot facility in Lebanon, Missouri, and the booming Indiana facility that is being celebrated next week.
The original 80,000-square-foot Middlebury facility was completed in 2013, and the expansion that doubled the building was finished in the past few months. Champagne said that business is so busy there that they’re already planning a third phase of expansion that would bring the facility from the current 160,000 to 360,000 square feet.
Near the end of its second decade the company became a second-generation family business. In March 2015, Brandon Champagne, Michael and Kimberly’s oldest child, joined the company. He was little more than a toddler when the business began.
Brandon, 24, said that he feels lucky to be able to join the company that’s always pushing for growth and improvement.
“Never being satisfied — that’s kind of my personality,” Brandon said of his father. “I know I got that from him. It’s such an opportunity what he’s done. His kids are fortunate to be a part of it.”
He spent a year learning the business in Glenpool before moving to Indiana earlier this year where he works as assistant general manager. Jessie Dunne, plant manager for Middlebury, also relocated from Oklahoma earlier this year.
Brandon Champagne said that up until this point Indiana operations have been on a much smaller scale than business in Glenpool, but the building expansion and the installation of the new machine means that the location will be expanding markets and methods. Now that construction and installation are complete, things can really get going.
“Basically,” he said, “what we’ve been preparing for starts in the next two weeks or so.”