Master Distributors, Exceptional Service

Christy Metals
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

Christy Metals offers dependable service and quality products to its domestic and international customers every day. The company is an ISO 9001:2008 certified manufacturer, and so is compliant with stringent quality standards. The company has no minimum order size and aims to meet all its customers’ metal needs, large or small.
Christy Metals was founded in 1964 by Creighton Helms, father of the current company president. Both in name and in presence, Christy Helms has led the company for the past two decades, helping the company to achieve new levels of success.

The company supplies metals to the automotive, aeronautics, architecture, aviation, building, dental, electrical, forging, fabrication, machinery, marine, medical, structural and shipbuilding industries. Christy Metals serves markets across the U.S. as well as a growing market in Mexico – thanks to its Texas expansion – and Canada. The company’s own fleet of trucks in the Chicagoland area allows it to respond to just-in-time deadlines of its customers.

“We have three locations, which we didn’t have a few years ago, so that’s a good thing,” said Vice President Lance Shelton. “We’re continuously growing. As distributors have gone out of business over the last twenty years, we’ve done a good job of taking those customers and servicing them, stocking what they need.”

Despite down markets and weak market forecasts in some sectors, Christy Metals has made itself into a market leader. “We have been fortunate to pick up where others have not done so well,” Shelton added.

“There have been some distributors who have fallen by the wayside or who have been purchased or absorbed by other companies or hedge funds, and we’ve actually been fortunate enough to pick up that business. We have a motto: if it’s made of metal and it sinks in water, we’ll sell it.”

The company has been diversifying its already robust line of non-ferrous metal products. It maintains an inventory that anticipates demand to ensure its customers’ needs are being met. Beyond the traditional copper and brass, Christy Metals distributes phosphor bronze alloys, stainless steel, nickel alloys, a copper alloy called cupronickel, nickel silvers and zinc alloy strips.

The team’s capabilities include X-ray thickness testing, winding of wire onto spools, slitting wide coils of metal into narrower ones, cutting to length, electroplating, silver plating, tinning or solder coating. Metals come in a variety of standard and custom tempers and different sizes and shapes such as wires, strips, sheets, coils and bars. These can be cut to meet any order specifications.

As a direct result of Christy Metals’ multiple slitting lines and in-house capabilities, it can fulfill a wide range of gauge, diameter and width requests. Customers can request cardboard cores, wood or fiber spacers and customized skids. Christy Metals is recognized for its plating and hot dip tinning services which have even been used by its direct competitors.

“We’re a master distributor, and what that means is we will distribute, cut, split and tin material for our competitors which are larger and smaller, but we have three Fortune 500 companies that we deal with every single week,” said Shelton.

“These are monster companies that we ship weekly to, in some cases we ship every other day to, so we stock material, but what has kept us going is we don’t have a minimum order size,” Shelton added. “We’ll take the 50-pound order as well as the 50,000-pound order, and we do both of those every single day.”

A major customer of Christy Metals is Johnson Controls. In late 2013, Christy Metals was acknowledged by Johnson Controls with The Excellence in Execution award. This honor recognizes quality, delivery, service and cost and credits the role suppliers play in the company’s overall achievements.

Christy Metals obtains only the highest quality raw materials and engages in strict multi-stage quality control practices to mitigate issues and maintain the company’s strong record of customer satisfaction. On time delivery and reduced production times are thanks to fewer setups and changeovers, resulting in improved costs and efficiency.

“There are some things that we outsource to other people that we would like to bring in-house. Anything that we outsource, we are taking a look at and trying to buy or get the equipment so we no longer have to outsource anything,” explained Shelton. Recently, Christy Metals put in a heavy gauge slitter with more additions to come.

Shelton noted that the company delivers on time 99.2 percent of the time, “and we’re not happy about that .08 percent, to be honest with you,” Shelton noted. Bringing more work in-house will enable the company to assert greater control over timelines to bring that number closer to one hundred percent. Christy Metals has a rejection rate of zero, and it continues to work with mill partners to maintain this level of perfection.

As a master distributor, Christy Metals has no plans of slowing anytime soon. At the heart of its accomplishments is the talent found throughout the team. The company’s reputation serves as a beacon for its customers and helps it to attract and retain the industry’s best.

Shelton credits every member of the staff for the company’s ability to achieve market success. To better serve its customers, both big and small, and as a means of being better corporate citizens, Christy Metals is currently working to achieve automotive industry ISO/TS16949 certification, in addition to its existing ISO 9001:2008 certification.

“We are going through right now to be TS certified, which is the environmental side of ISO 9002,” Shelton said. “We are obviously the newest standard of ISO 9000; we’re [quality systems] compliant for the automotive work, but this TS means a great deal. We’re putting a lot of work into becoming environmentally certified.”

“We’re putting a lot of work and resources into it, not just one or two people. It’s a company-wide thing from recycling to we put $150,000 worth of solar panels on top of our roof just to use the light for energy and recycling. Of course, we recycle all of our scrap material, so that was easy – all of our wood and our plastics.”

Christy Metals employed the services of an energy company to provide it with an energy audit to ensure that the company will achieve TS certification with its environmental commitment and focus on sustainable and efficient operations above reproach.

Shelton acknowledges the positive work culture at Christy Metals originates with Mr. Helms himself. “That definitely comes from the top-down, and I attribute that to Christy Helms, as far as being a good owner and president. He started with the company, and obviously, he went away to college, but he came back and he helped to make the company better.”

Christy Metals must be doing something right or – as seems to be the case – many things right, as the company has nearly tripled in size over the last eight years. Again, Shelton credits Christy Helms, as well as the company’s commitment to stocking more materials and continuing to listen to and address its customers’ needs.

“We want to anticipate and service and hold stock and inventory for our customers,” Shelton concluded. “The nice thing is, one thing we can do at Christy Metals that our competitors don’t is, we will work seven days a week. We’ll work two shifts. We’re not at capacity now so we can work a second or third shift when needed because of that capacity. That will increase our lead times. Where other people are two to three weeks, we can be two to three days.”



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