WATERVILLE – F3 MFG is proud to sustain its ranking as Maine’s third-fastest growing company according to Inc. 5000, a ranking it first achieved in 2017. Nationally, the automotive body and accessory manufacturer rose from no. 1,317 to no. 868 on business magazine Inc.’s annual report of the top 5,000 fastest-growing businesses in the United States. Rankings are based on revenue growth rate over a three-year period; F3 MFG has achieved a 490 percent revenue growth rate over three years to reach $17.2 million in 2018. Of the fastest growing companies in Maine, F3 MFG has the second-highest revenue.
“Our success is due to the F3 team and the dedication the three of us have to remain the leader in the market,” Bill Cleaves says of his two co-founders, Tom Sturtevant and Joyce Galea. “Our industry was stagnant – we came in and changed the status quo.”
Cleaves has made a career of disrupting the steel-dominant automotive industry. In 1996, frustrated by the lack of high-quality, enclosed aluminum trailers in the market, he made one for himself and founded SnoPro Trailers in Liberty. He started selling his trailers in Uncle Henry’s and quickly became a wholesaler after attracting the interest of multiple dealers.
After selling the Sno Pro trailer business to Thule, a business that was ultimately acquired by ALCOM Inc., Cleaves ventured into aluminum truck racks, operating as Magnum Manufacturing in Liberty. His stylish Magnum rack was a welcome innovation in a market that was focused entirely on function. Continuing to expand his product line to truck bodies, Magnum grew from $200,000 in sales in 2010 to $2.9 million in 2015. During his career, Cleaves propelled a market composition shift from 90 percent steel to 30 percent aluminum, a material which is 40 percent lighter, more durable, and longer lasting than steel.
In 2016, Cleaves brought on Tom Sturtevant and Joyce Galea. Now F3 MFG, the company manufactures aluminum truck bodies and headache racks under the DuraMag and Magnum brands, and continues to propel and capitalize on the market shift away from steel to aluminum.
As F3 MFG has grown, it scaled its workforce from a team of 14 to over 200 employees in under four years. Galea leads the workforce expansion, personally hiring every new employee and remaining involved in their professional and personal growth.
“I’m willing to give second chances, so it’s really important for me to sit down with a candidate and go beyond what’s on their application. If I see a strong work ethic, I’ll help them overcome obstacles. I’ve sat down with employees and helped them find apartments, call landlords, fill out a mortgage application – being a part of their progression is the most fulfilling part of my work,” said Galea.
Between 2017-2018, F3 MFG’s revenue grew at a rate of 162 percent. Sturtevant expects a 172 percent growth rate in 2019, with sales projected to reach approximately $30 million. The 2020 forecast includes 25 percent employment growth to target more than $40 million in sales.
Continued revenue growth necessitates physical expansion; F3 MFG has increased its production facility on Trafton Road by 300 percent in three years, to 150,000 sq’. To fulfill the regional demand for industrial workspace, Trafton Properties, which owns over 900 acres, has acquired permits for a new 120,000 sq.ft. facility.
“While many companies currently can’t find enough employees, which often results in operations having to turn away business, F3 MFG has been able to keep up with its extraordinary market presence by being able to grow and retain talent and tap into our resilient workforce, ” said Garvan Donegan, director of planning and economic development for Central Maine Growth Council. “Similarly, the success of F3 MFG highlights the desirability of Trafton Road as Maine’s newest logistics and manufacturing hub, as it accommodates a wide range of site criteria, particularly for manufacturing workspaces including production facilities and warehousing.”
Trafton Road, which features an I-95 off-ramp completed in 2017, exhibits strong central geography, a supply of infrastructure, large site acreage options, and includes a tax increment finance (TIF) district which incentivizes development
F3 MFG, formerly Magnum Manufacturing Inc. was founded in 2016 to create an efficient manufacturing process that produces superior aluminum automotive products at pricing that is competitive with lower quality steel counterparts. The leadership team has over 85 years of collective manufacturing experience as market leaders in both the automotive and the aluminum trailer industry.