By Fran Eaton for the Technology & Manufacturing Association of Illinois News Bulletin – reprinted with permission
“Adaptable,” “versatile,” “profitable,” “creative” — all words that describe manufacturers that survive and thrive from generation to generation.
And those are the words that describe Stanley Spring and Stamping Corporation, a Chicago-based manufacturer that Reb Banas’ grandfather Stanley, a Polish immigrant, started up as World War II closed down. “My grandfather started in 1944 with a hand coiler in his garage while working for another spring company,” Reb Banas told News Bulletin. “He then rented a three-flat with a manual elevator near where the Chicago Stadium now stands, before moving to this location on West Foster.” Banas’ father Ron and his uncle Stan took over the business in 1954.
Today, as a third-generation member of the Banas Family, Reb says he is proud Stanley Spring and Stamping is one of the largest family-owned producers of custom springs, stampings, wire forms and fasteners in the world, serving many different industries.
Industry changes demand versatility
The business has thrived during some of manufacturing history’s most rapidly developing and dramatically-changing time periods. Starting with producing springs, Stanley Spring and Stamping added and changed its services to meet the industry’s demands.
“As business turned, so did our customers,” Reb Banas said. “At one time we were making wires for Zenith, RCA and Magnavox TVs, as well as washers and dryers. Then along came plasma and flat screens and that work went offshore, as did the customers. We had to adapt to the demands – as every manufacturer does.”
Stanley Spring and Stamping boasts a large, diverse customer base – from electronics to consumer appliances to outdoor power equipment and seatbacks for chairs. “There are springs in your glove compartments, visors, trunk releases, gas cap releases,” Banas said. “There are springs on sidewalk-edging blades, in electronics behind electrical outlets, cell phone plugs – it’s hard for most people to appreciate where springs are.”
Banas says all manufacturers face the challenge of winning and keeping customers, making their work profitable and finding skilled team members. “When we find good workers, they stay,” he said. “In the last year, we had three employees celebrate 50 years at Stanley Spring. Our average length of employment is 26 years. Their experience is valuable and crucial to the company’s success.” Stanley Spring’s team experience permits the company to offer important recommendations on print tolerances, materials and secondary operations – something every producer wants to keep costs low and production efficient.
Reb says the future is bright for manufacturing as a whole, but some dark clouds on the economic horizon concern him. “I’m optimistic on the industry and our business, but I’m very pessimistic on the state government. It worries me more than anything. The state’s finances are in such disrepair,” he said, echoing concerns other Illinois manufacturers have voiced in recent months.
Banas said being located in Illinois and also in Cook County and Chicago places three strikes against his company’s outlook. On one hand, his Chicago location has historically hosted a regional network of premiere wire and metal producers.
On the other hand, government demands on business owners by the state, county and city has caused Banas to reconsider and investigate the cost of moving to Wisconsin. He found that not only would such a move upend the company’s access to its 95 skilled employees, moving 500 pieces machinery and setting up a new facility would cost the company at least 40 days of crucial production.
“For us, moving just doesn’t work,” Banas said. However, Stanley Spring expanded recently by setting up a facility in Fort Lauderdale, Florida that focuses on customized projects.
When not overseeing the two Stanley Spring facilities, Reb is busy with his family. Two of his four children are currently in college and the youngest is in junior high school. He stays busy coaching baseball teams, golfing and swimming – a sport in which he competed while studying at Southern Methodist University. Banas’ office walls are lined with photos of teams, plaques and autographed sports memorabilia. He’s also active with charitable causes such as Misericordia, Evans Scholars Foundation and Loyola Academy.
Rewards of leading 3-generation business
“There’s a sense of accomplishment in buying materials, designing something, selling it at a specific price and making something people are buying. All that contributes to the economy while producing something – and actually making something and selling it at a profit,” Banas said. “That’s all rewarding. Add to that, working with people for years that show up every day to do their jobs. It’s something you never take for granted.”
Evidence once again of Stanley Spring and Stamping’s cultural “adaptability,” “versatility,” “profitability,” “creativity” – and why companies like theirs will be around for generations to come.
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About – TMA: Founded in 1925, the Technology & Manufacturing Association (TMA) represents and supports manufacturers in the Chicago metropolitan area and surrounding counties in northern Illinois, northern Indiana, and southern Wisconsin. TMA has almost 1,000 members and represents over 32,000 employees and nearly 26M square feet of manufacturing in Illinois.