Northwoods Manufacturing: Family built metal fabrication business over decades

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DAN VIVIO WELDS a counterweight for a customer at Northwoods Manufacturing in Kingsford. (Theresa Proudfit/Daily News photo)

KINGSFORD — Brian Pipp has a simple answer for how Northwoods Manufacturing in Kingsford found success in the heavy metal fabrication business.

“We put out a good quality product on time,” said Pipp, the company’s vice president and general manager, “and we are fortunate to have decent customers.”

The family-owned business was founded by Brian’s father, Jon Pipp of Iron Mountain, in November 1994. After earning an engineering degree at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, Jon Pipp started his own business out of a 6,000-square-feet building on River Avenue in Iron Mountain with a skeleton crew of five employees, manufacturing small parts for customers.

As the business grew and more space was needed, Pipp purchased the former Wittock Supply and Kingsford Broach buildings. Two decades later, the company is at 850 East Blvd. in Kingsford and employs 80 welders, fabricators, assemblers, grinders and painters in 200,000 square feet of manufacturing space.

In 2016, Brian Pipp took over as acting vice president of operations with 20 years of experience in the fabricating business.

BRIAN PIPP, VICE PRESIDENT and general manager of Northwoods Manufacturing in Kingsford, has been with his father’s company for more than 20 years. (Theresa Proudfit/Daily News photo)

With customers such as Metso Minerals and Excel Foundry, the heavy metal fabricators are now among the leading producers of components for the aggregate and mining business as well as industrial ovens, conveyors and air quality equipment.

“We make lots of replacement parts for mining, portable chassis that go to gravel pits, cone crushers, jaw crushers, industrial ovens, and we just started making parts for marine travel lifts,” Pipp said.

As a “job shop” Northwoods builds exclusively for their customers’ needs.

“Northwoods Manufacturing has always treated our customers the way we would like to be treated, with integrity, honesty, and respect,” Pipp said. “Our goal is always to deliver a quality product, on time in a professional manner.”