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A Building to Attract Talent

Heavy manufacturer uses daylighting to enhance work environment and minimize lighting expenditures

Butler June18 1

When the Miller family acquired Performance Fabricating, the goal was to grow the business. To get there, they knew they needed a building environment that would set them apart from their competition—both in the eyes of their customers and employees.

Performance Fabricating is a metalworking and welding company in Fenton, Mich. It manufactures structural platforms, conveyors and automation system components.

“Aesthetics is everything,” says Chad Miller, owner of Performance Fabricating. “We wanted a bright, well-lit, good working environment for our team and to demonstrate to our customers the level of quality they’ll get by working with us.”

The Millers paired with Kevin Johnson and his firm, Rhoads & Johnson, Fenton, to create the building that would help build their business. As another local, long-standing family-owned operation, Rhoads & Johnson offered an in-depth understanding of the Fenton business climate and knowledge of how building design decisions can impact company success.

“As the automotive industry in this area continues to ramp up, attracting labor is a huge issue right now,” explained Kevin Johnson, owner of Rhoads & Johnson. “Having a great place to work is a huge benefit.”

At the heart of the Millers’ businesses is their employees, and keeping them central when making building decisions helps the company attract and retain key talent, despite a manufacturing labor shortage.

Incorporating natural lighting into a building design is an easy way to improve employee satisfaction, reduce turnover and make the workplace more appealing to new recruits. As a Kansas City, Mo.-based Butler Manufacturing Butler Builder, Johnson offers the SunLite Strip daylighting system.

It’s reliable technology that allows businesses to achieve the benefits of daylighting without the inflated risk for roof leaks. The design complements the Butler standing seam roof offering and reduces roof penetrations by 30 percent.

The SunLite Strip daylighting system creates a brightly lit work environment throughout the day with patented dome construction that captures more light at low sun angles than traditional lenses. It magnifies light entering the building through thousands of mirror-like elements that also eliminate unpleasant hot spots, glare and sun damage.

The new Performance Fabricating headquarters incorporates 90 SunLite Strip daylighting units. The result: a production floor much different than traditional welding shops—one that is clean and bright.

The added benefit is, when paired with lighting management and control systems, the SunLite Strip daylighting system can reduce lighting costs by up to 70 percent. The savings are welcome in a business that is as energy-intensive as welding.

Now, in part because of the daylighting system, Performance Fabricating is having no trouble attracting talent. In fact, the business receives an average of five new applications per day.

“Not only did the Millers update their building design, but they’re also changing the perception of the industry,” Johnson says. “It starts with the building and the image it conveys.”

Together, the Millers and Rhoads & Johnson, along with architect John Asselin Jr. of Asselin, Mclane Architectural Group, Flint, Mich., have created a place that is not only changing the face of an industry, but changing a community as well. In the six months after the project was completed, the business added more than 60 jobs, nearly tripling in size.

“This is the largest building in the Fenton Township,” says Miller. “I’m proud to bring this work to this area for these people. It’s good for our township. It’s good for Fenton. It’s good for this area.”

Ed Osborne has over 15 years of construction experience and currently works as a business development manager with Butler Manufacturing, Kansas City, Mo. In this role, he aligns top-tier contractors with resources at Butler Manufacturing to help deliver a smarter way to build. For more information, visit