In 1958, working out of a small garage in Crafton, brothers Jim and Herb Amick started a family business to manufacture wire rope and soft rope slings.
Amick Associates Inc. grew quickly and, within four years, the brothers left their tiny garage workspace for a 4,000-square-foot facility in Carnegie.
Now on its third generation of ownership, which took over this year, Amick Associates is still manufacturing slings for overhead lifting at its Carnegie facility. Co-owner Brian Amick said while the foundation is still the same, as the business has grown over the years, it has found ways to branch out and add products and services.
For example, in 1999, following an accident at an Indy Racing League event in Charlotte, N.C., where a wheel was thrown from a vehicle into the crowd, killing three and injuring eight, NASCAR contacted Amick to see if it could manufacture a wire rope sling that could hold a wheel onto the car in the event of an accident.
Co-owner D.J. Amick said the previous generation of owners worked to develop a solution, and in the first year alone, they sold nearly 20,000 rope slings.
In the Amick Race Car Restraint division, the company is on its third-generation tether and has contracts as the official tether supplier for NASCAR, IRL, Dallara Automobili and the National Hot Rod Association, making tethers to increase the safety on everything from sprint cars to monster trucks.
“This really started as a niche, but developed into a big part of the company,” said D.J. Amick, who serves as vice president for Amick’s synthetic division.
The company also has branched out into hoist and crane repair, but its biggest diversification has been its expansion into safety inspection and training.
The company is constructing a 9,000-square-foot building next to its current facility, and Brian Amick said this will allow the company to grow its hoist and crane division, streamline operations, maintain inventory, and provide additional room for on-site customer training.
And, under the latest generation of ownership, the company has added new technology, including radio-frequency identification chips, to all of its chains, allowing customers to easily scan the chips with a reader and keep track of inspection data chips on all of its chains, eliminating the paper trail customers were required to keep for inspections.
Brian Amick said one of the challenges running a family owned-and-operated business is the number of different hats you have to wear, but it was a great benefit to learn the business from the previous generation. Both Brian’s father, Jim, and D.J.’s father, Doug, are still actively involved in the day-to-day operations and sales.
“It’s a big plus to be able to learn from your parent, but also have the ability to take what they have done and adapt it to how you think the business should operate,” Brian Amick said.
He said the sense of family is something they extend to all employees, and something they reciprocate.
When the company’s facility was under five feet of water in 2004 as a result of Hurricane Ivan, Brian Amick said it was because of the employees that Amick was quickly back up and running.
“It was our employees’ families, their spouses, their kids that came in after the storm and, within eight days, got us to the point where we were operational,” he said. “With your family name on the business, you do feel more pressure to succeed, but we have focused on hiring good employees and promoting them to key positions in the company to keep things running smooth.”
Credit: Justine Coyne, Reporter, Pittsburgh Business Times
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