replaced a couple of times during its
service life, but all that changed when
OEMs transitioned to stainless steel and
the aftermarket industry switched to aluminized steel.
U.S. AutoForce leveraged its equipment and fabrication knowledge to
branch out into other areas, and its work
spans the bending spectrum. It has the
expertise to make some complex parts,
the equipment needed to knock out simple parts quickly, and nearly everything
in between (see Figure 2).
It’s not the biggest tube-and-pipe fabrication shop you’ll ever see, but it has
a lot of capability. The shop staff draws
on decades of experience to do nearly
anything in fabrication, including bending (round, oval, square, and rectangular,
with or without mandrel), end forming
(reducing, expanding, flaring, swaging,
and beading), various other fabrication
processes (cutting, notching, punching,
coping, drilling, and welding), and finishing (powder coating, anodizing, and
It has offset the decrease in the exhaust business by making inroads into
other industries, making components for
consumer, medical, and industrial products. All of the company’s bending machines are equipped with CNC, and the
majority are mandrel-capable (see Figure
3). The shop bends material as light as
18 gauge, and its benders have enough
torque to bend square tube up to 2 inches by 2 in. with 0.250-in. wall thickness.
Its efforts to branch out have paid off.
Exhaust components now make up just
35 to 40 percent of the total work done
in the pipe shop and, in keeping with its
success in diversifying, the pipe shop became a new entity, U.S. Custom Manufacturing.
And, yes, it is keeping an eye on the
future by cooperating with Kimberly
High School. U.S. Custom Manufacturing is a partner in a vocational program
that provides bona fide job experience
for the next generation of fabricators (see
Philanthropy Made to Order
For all the business that U.S. Venture
does and all the revenue it generates,
Career Opportunities, Giving Back, and
Newsroom. Only one of those hints at
making money; three are company infor-
mation and one is philanthropy.
Philanthropy is so important to the
family and to the company that in 1985
the brothers founded a family founda-
tion in honor of their parents: the U.S.
Venture/Schmidt Family Foundation Inc.,
Bending exhaust components successfully hinges on using the right tooling. In many cases, a mandrel is necessary to prevent the tube from collapsing. Also, the industry uses a
unique sort of bend die, one that has a series of deep grooves. These grooves guide the
metal as it flows, giving it a place to go.
In addition to its philanthropic activities, U.S. Venture is an educational partner, cooperating with Kimberly High School’s vocational program.