Member Manufacturers

New member spotlight: Mullen Insurance Solutions LLC

Organizations looking out for the best interests of the Mahoning Valley workforce are attractive to Mullen Insurance Solutions in Boardman. For owner, Nate Mullen, Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition fits that category, and becoming a member makes sense.

“We’re just trying to get our name out there a little more,” he said.

Connecting with MVMC

Mullen, a health insurance broker, started the company in 2021 but has been in the industry for 13 years. He already had established relationships with some MVMC members before joining the coalition.

The other meaningful connection was through one of his account managers, Heather Willison. She previously worked with MVMC assistant director Gina Pastella.

Mullen worked with his other two account managers, Mary Ann Christie and Becky Miller, before starting his company. All three say they’re good at something different, which helps their process run smoothly.

Mullen always dreamed of having his own business, but it came true sooner than expected.

“I didn’t think this would happen until my late 40s or 50s, but when my old employer sold to a large agency, I decided it was time to move on,” he said.

Close-knit team

To say Mullen clicks with his employees is an understatement. He swells with pride and emotion talking about the company environment.

“We just have the most incredible team of people here,” he said.

Mullen Insurance currently handles health insurance plans for about 60 groups in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties. It ranges from one-person businesses up to groups of more than 200 employees.

“The unique thing about our business is the way we work with companies. We only grow when they grow. It’s not about premiums. As the workforce grows, that’s how we see growth,” Mullen said.

Standing out from the competition

He says the challenging part is trying to be different. In health insurance, the pricing is all the same.

“There is no ‘better deal’. If a broker tells you that, they’re lying. So, our way of being different is our service model and through the technology we use for enrollment platforms,” he said.

That is important to larger employers and multi-location businesses because work for HR becomes easier.

Mullen Insurance is affiliated with the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce and the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber. Being part of the MVMC is just another opportunity to be more engrained in the Mahoning Valley.

“We feel our service method is different than larger companies, and customers get a more personal experience using our business,” Mullen said.

Faces of Manufacturing

New member spotlight: International Steel & Counterweights

Community outreach and giving second chances are two big reasons why International Steel & Counterweights joined Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition. The Youngstown company continues to battle a revolving door of employees – a familiar story in the manufacturing world.

International Steel & Counterweights has been at the North West Avenue location since its founding about 14 years ago. The company has grown to around 120 employees – fully occupying an historic and century-old industrial complex.

ISC is owned by AMG Resources Corporation, of Pittsburgh. The company is primarily a recycled metals – with ISC being the only manufacturing facility it has.

“While we are a global organization, we’re a different piece of the puzzle for them, turning metal products into finished goods,” said Larry Wiley, operations manager at International Steel & Counterweights.

Where counterweights are used

ISC makes counterweights for applications from around the world.

“Ballast and counterweights are used in every conceivable application where something needs to be pushed, pulled, lifted or anchored,” Wiley said.

The president of ISC has been in the counterweight business for more than 45 years. He started off renting a small part of the current location, but as the company grew, he ended up taking over the whole building.

ISC primarily serves customers in the counterweight industry, but the company also serves the market as a machine shop, metal service center and full-service scrap yard. ISC prides itself on being as environmentally friendly as possible.

“One of the best things about steel is that it’s the most recyclable product in the world. Nothing is wasted. We are fortunate that we have developed customers that can use steel in its every form. We have a home for every part of steel, from the beginning of its life to the end of its life, where ultimately, it’s remelted and starts life again,” Wiley said.

“In a nutshell, we’re a very large production and fabrication shop,” Wiley said.

Customers are spread throughout the United States, North America and even some overseas.

“Our business model allows us to bring savings and value to just about every corner of the world,” Wiley said.

Kristin Wheatley, the senior HR business partner at ISC, says the company is always getting creative meeting customer demands and creating products to offer customers.

“There isn’t one format for anything here. This makes our work interesting and gives us room to keep developing new offerings to the market,” Wheatley said.

The MVMC impact

As far as building a workforce, ISC wants to help people who are restarting their lives and finding a new career. The company attended the MVMC-hosted Ohio to Work impact breakfast in January, and management was on board from there.

“When we heard about WorkAdvance, that was it for us. The fundamentals are being taught in those bootcamps. That’s our biggest struggle. Candidates need to know things like basic math skills and being comfortable in a manufacturing facility,” Wheatley said.

She stresses the company needs machine operators, but the challenge is getting employees to show up every day and knowing how to behave in the workplace.

“For instance, not having someone get mad and complain because we told them to put their phone away. It’s a safety issue, and the person is also not working,” Wheatley said.

ISC needs people from all experience levels that are willing to learn, develop and grow with the company.

“Make the commitment before day one. If someone shows up on the most basic level, we will notice that. We will move people to a better job with more opportunity as rapidly as possible, but they have to make that commitment,” Wiley said.

Forward-thinking mindset

Patience is another piece of advice for job seekers.

“You’ll be in a busy, fast-paced facility. Give it time to feel comfortable and progress. People get intimidated and give up. We’ll train on every level,” Wheatley said.

The company is also putting in some advanced manufacturing and automation tools at the plant, but they’re not replacing jobs. Workers are still needed to set up and run all facets of production and manufacturing. The goal is to help cut down on physical labor and speed up the time getting products to market.

Wheatley says the days of college being the only option for a good career are ending.

“It’s about changing the mindset. Buildings are going up. Companies are opening. We just need the workers to come in,” she said.

She added many supervisors at the plant had entry-level positions before working their way up. The president of the company even started out sweeping floors. Management is eager to see how being part of MVMC will help ISC’s workforce.

“It’s an adventure for us, and we’re going to learn as much as we can in this beneficial partnership,” Wiley said.