Met-South celebrates grand opening in Hanceville


L-R: Met-South owners Cathy and Don Jesse, Hanceville Mayor Kenneth Nail and Cullman Economic Development Agency Director Dale Greer pose for a photo on Wednesday morning, when Met-South celebrated its official opening in Hanceville.  (W.C. Mann for The Tribune)

HANCEVILLE – On Wednesday morning, Met-South celebrated its official grand opening at its new location in Hanceville.  The company has been operating there since the end of January. Owners Don and Cathy Jesse relocated their company from the south side of Birmingham after discovering that most of their employees were Wallace State graduates who were commuting to work each day.

Said Don Jesse, “We’re so happy to be here.  One reason is the Wallace State grads. The grads have worked out just great, easy trainable.  Their program over at Wallace State is phenomenal. We ran through the mill at our previous locations, trying to find good, qualified people.  We could get the people, but they don’t have the expertise level. These young guys are easy trainable, moldable into what we’re looking for. We give them a well-rounded training and application for building of the gauges and fixtures and jigs, and things like that. They’re not only machinists, but they do the entire product for us. Not only are they cross-trained, but if someone’s running a program or something like that, anyone can jump on it.”

The new Hanceville facility has also allowed Met-South to purchase larger equipment to take on bigger projects to expand its customer base.

“We’ve been very fortunate–divine intervention–that we have got the work that we have,” said Don Jesse, “and that we have a lot of irons in the fire, a lot of new customers that are interested in us, and just being here, getting a lot of exposure right now is really a good thing.  We think it’s really going to skyrocket for us.”

Don Jesse commended Hanceville Mayor Kenneth Nail and the city of Hanceville, along with the city’s police and fire departments, for their help in preparing the site and securing the facility and its equipment during the transition from Birmingham.

Nail told The Tribune, “We’re glad that Met-South has chosen Hanceville as their new home, and I know that they’ve done hired several new folks since they’ve been here.  And I talked to Don, and I said, ‘Hopefully, in a year or so, we can have 50 or 60 employees here.’ He kind of looked surprised when I said that, but I said I hope his business takes off to the point he has to expand rather quickly.”

What Met-South does

The “Met” in Met-South is metrology, the study of measurements.  The company produces precision measuring tools and gauges for automotive parts manufacturers and others.  When the move to Hanceville was first announced, Wallace State Applied Technologies Director Jimmy Hodges explained a little about what the company hopes to get from the school:

“They are a company that makes gauges and fixtures for the automotive supplier industry, and so our machine shop produces machinists, CNC programmers and tool and die technicians.  All of those trades are used in their business. Our students are useful in all of those areas that they have. We also helped them get an apprenticeship. They have a registered Department of Labor apprenticeship going on in their business; and that’s just an added benefit for our students.”

Wallace State Machine Tool Department Director Gary McMinn added, “The main thing they’re looking for is CNC operators and programmers.  The last two semesters (applied technology) students are at Wallace State, they do CNC programming, setup and operations. We have a wide variety of machines in our department, and we give them a basis of mathematics: geometry, trigonometry, and also give them blueprint reading and general machine shop projects.”

Met-South supplies automotive parts manufacturers and already has business relationships with REHAU, Topre and Yutaka, as well as companies in Tuscaloosa, Opelika, Birmingham, Huntsville and Pulaski, Tennessee.  The company currently employs six machinists, all from Wallace State.

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