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Published: Wednesday, 5/25/2011

Municipal jobs help fill gap

Monroe Environmental rebounds after auto collapse

BY SHEENA HARRISON
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Chad Bitz welds the bottom section of a dust collector for Chrysler's Trenton (Mich.) Engine Plant. About 25 percent of Monroe Environmental Corp.'s work is for auto companies, down from 70 percent. Chad Bitz welds the bottom section of a dust collector for Chrysler's Trenton (Mich.) Engine Plant. About 25 percent of Monroe Environmental Corp.'s work is for auto companies, down from 70 percent.
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MONROE -- Diversification into new industries is paying off for Monroe Environmental Corp., a manufacturer of industrial cleaning systems.

The Michigan company, founded in 1970, makes machinery that can clean air, gasses, industrial liquids, and water.

Several major automakers and their suppliers accounted for the majority of Monroe Environmental's sales until a few years ago, when the auto downturn caused the company's sales to dip significantly, President Gary Pashaian said.

His firm immediately embarked on a strategy to win nonautomotive manufacturing and municipal wastewater treatment contracts. The approach worked -- Monroe Environmental expects to reach sales of $10 million to $12 million this year, compared with $5 million in 2010 and more than $1 million in 2009.

"This year, we had a goal to do $8 million, but we've already gone past that," Mr. Pashaian said.

Much of the Monroe firm's recent revenue growth, Mr. Pashaian said, has come from nearly two dozen municipal contracts won nationwide in the last couple of years, including a $5 million wastewater project from the city of Detroit received a few months ago.

The company performed work on two wastewater treatment clarifiers last year for the city of Saginaw, Mich. Brian Baldwin, assistant superintendent for the city treatment plant, said Monroe Environmental received the contract after submitting a low bid for the project.

"After talking to them and seeing some of the work they've done for other people, we gave them a chance," Mr. Baldwin said. "And they've done a really good job."

The firm's industrial clients include the steel company ArcelorMittal, Mr. Pashaian said.

the blade/andy morrisonA packed bed scrubber, a Monroe Environmental product, removes soluble chemicals, fumes, and odors. the blade/andy morrisonA packed bed scrubber, a Monroe Environmental product, removes soluble chemicals, fumes, and odors.
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A couple of years ago, automotive contracts were more than 70 percent of Monroe Environmental's work.

Today, automotive clients are about 25 percent of business, while industrial work is 50 percent and municipal work is 25 percent. The company aims to have 90 percent of its sales coming from industrial and municipal clients.

The company plans to add about a dozen employees this year to handle new contracts. "We need to hire enough qualified people so we can keep up with what we're trying to accomplish," said Mr. Pashaian, who has about 40 employees.

At least one other local company caters to the wastewater treatment market.

N-Viro International Corp., a Toledo firm with publicly traded stock, uses a specialized process to convert biosolids from municipal wastewater plants into alternative fuel.

Contact Sheena Harrison at: sharrison@theblade.com or 419-724-6103.



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