Cranberry firm helps other companies make their mark
Running on the premise that anything made can be marked, Mecco Marking & Traceability finds that more businesses want to imprint codes, numbers and logos on products than to use labels that can fall off.
Ford Motor Co., for example, “marks a barcode on every single part now,” said David Sweet, president of the Cranberry company that sells marking and engraving equipment to manufacturers of industrial and consumer products.
If Ford finds a problem with 500 pieces or so, the automaker can track when and where they were used. “It's not, ‘Let's call 100,000 vehicles back that may or may not need that product fixed,' ” he said.
Mecco's sales of laser-marking and other devices, plus related computer software, grew by more than 20 percent annually in recent years. The company nearly tripled its workforce since 2009 to 31 employees. It expanded its manufacturing space in June.
Catalyst Connection, a South Oakland-based business consulting organization, named Mecco in February as one of its 25 top manufacturing clients.
“Mecco Marking represents the kind of innovation that is driving growth in our manufacturing sector today,” CEO Petra Mitchell said. The company put in place “modern business processes, along with cost-effective technologies coupled with training, to be globally competitive while providing good-paying jobs.”
The company began in 1889 as M.E. Cunningham Co., a South Side machine shop that produced steel hand stamps in the 1920s. A worker pounded a mallet or hammer on one end to imprint a number or letter on the stamp's opposite end onto a piece of metal.
Fire destroyed M.E. Cunningham's plant during the St. Patrick's Day flood of 1936. The company opted to focus exclusively on metal marking tools when it set up quarters in the North Side and later relocated to Ingomar before settling in Cranberry in 2007.
Sweet is collecting photos and old equipment for a historical display at the front of Mecco's offices.
But these days, the company that a group of investors purchased from family owners in 2002 “feels like a new company” with two major product lines, Sweet said. Mecco assembled and customized laser marking equipment for the past eight years, and sold dot peen, or contact marking equipment that uses a stylus, for 22 years. The company is the exclusive U.S. distributor for Couth dot peen products, made in Spain. The two parts of the business contribute roughly equal amounts in sales.
Dot peen markers make a deep impression in metal or other material that can be painted over in Caterpillar's bold yellow or John Deere's bright green, for example, and still be readable, Sweet said.
“Oil and gas is our No. 1 industry for dot peen” sales, Sweet said, referring to fuel producers working in the Marcellus and other shale plays.
Laser, favored by the automotive industry, etches clear, readable markings on a background. Jewelry artisans, along with manufacturers, use laser-marking devices.
“We serve every industry out there, and traceability is getting recognized by manufacturers more and more,” Sweet said.
The technology has been tried on unusual products.
“We've done fruit, to see if you can barcode an apple. We could, but then a few hours later you start seeing the brown damage,” he said. One attempt at putting date codes on chicken went nowhere.
Mecco designs and makes pieces that hold products to be laser- or dot peen-marked. Individual operators run some machines; others are part of a conveyor-belt production system.
Customers weighing the two technologies often go with the less expensive dot peen equipment, at $6,000 versus a laser that might cost 10 times that.
Kim Leonard is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5606 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Cranberry homes could lose flood-hazard designation when FEMA udpates flood plain maps
- Cranberry musician cleared of rape moves on with life