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USA - General manager buys Omaha Steel Castings

Phil Teggart, general manager of Omaha Steel Castings Co., has purchased the privately held company from Ron Howlett, who owned the firm for about 30 years.

The company at 4601 Farnam St. was founded in 1906. Teggart said it has about 250 employees and annual sales of about $25 million.

Teggart, who has held his position for the past 4½ years, said the firm makes steel castings for the construction, mining, oil, gas and transportation industries.

He said it has been a key supplier to Caterpillar for more than 50 years.

The decision to purchase the company did not come without a hard look at the foundry business, Teggart said. Twenty foundries have closed in the United States and about 30 have closed worldwide, he said.

"We knew that there were certain areas of the business that we were not going to compete."

The company identified its "niche" and over the last few years it changed the balance of its business. Ten years ago, 80 percent of Omaha Steel's business came from Caterpillar. So if Caterpillar did well, so did the Omaha company.

He equated the relationship to windsurfing: When the "wind was blowing we were fine, but if the wind stopped . . . "

Recently, though, Teggart said Omaha Steel has focused on quicker turnarounds, better customer service and smaller parts, such as half-pound castings, rather than 2,000-pound castings.

It also handles "exotic materials," such as high alloy components and stainless steel items, "where cost and lead times are so critical.

"It's given us a competitive advantage," Teggart said.

"Four years ago, we lost quite a bit of business to a foundry in Texas . . . Now that foundry has failed miserably and Caterpillar has brought the business back to us and then some."

Teggart, who declined to disclose the purchase price, said he would be both owner and general manager for a while and name a new general manager in about six months.

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