Steve Nordness was in a management position at a major electrical company in Southeastern Wisconsin when he decided to open his own design and build automaton business focusing on instrumentation and controls. The goal for his new company, Automation Solutions LLC, was to focus on smaller companies that don’t have controls engineers in house.
“We exist because we believe all companies deserve access to cutting-edge technology, regardless of size,” Steve said.
The early stages of Automation Solutions saw Steve with a small group of employees building panels in a garage. As the company quickly grew, Steve realized he needed an office space and more employees to accommodate their work. After outgrowing their rented space in short order, Automation Solutions purchased its own building and relocated to its current location in the Germantown Industrial Park. The larger facility is home to a UL508A panel shop and a growing team of high-quality engineers, electricians and control panel experts. The location also has plenty of land that will allow the business to continue to grow.
Automation Solutions offers automation and control systems integration, including design/engineering, hardware procurement and programming; UL508A panel design and assembly; and electrical systems and services, including a construction group with master and journeymen electricians. Not many companies offer all these solutions under one roof, and Automation Solutions has the capability to deliver everything from simple control panels to complex turnkey manufacturing or process control systems across a variety of industries.
While Automation Solutions has done work for large national, and even international clients, Steve finds it even more rewarding to see how big of an impact their work has on smaller businesses.
“We’ve done work for the large brewery and motorcycle manufacturer and the work is valued,” Steve said. “But when you can help a small company save millions of gallons of water every year with a control system change, the impact feels so much bigger.”
Steve attributes the secret to his success to his never-give-up attitude and his excellent employees.
“I have a refusal to fail and I work a lot of hours,” Steve said. “I’ve also built a team of really great individuals.”
Automation Solutions and Forte Bank are aligned in their desire to make a big impact on smaller local businesses.
“When I first started the business, I told my accountant I was frustrated with my banking situation,” Steve said. “My accountant told me to contact Forte Bank. He said, ‘They’re like you — focused on relationships and driven to help people.’ That is still true after all these years.”
Not only does Automation Solutions have long-term deposit and loan relationships with Forte Bank, they also are looking to Forte Bank to help further expand the business at their current site.
In addition, Forte Bank recently helped Automation Solutions with a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan.
“A lot of the folks did not have a lot of success with their banks when it came to the PPP loans and I feel like Forte Bank knocked it out of the ballpark,” Steve said. “I never felt worried that they wouldn’t get it done for me.”
Steve says he feels respected and important at Forte Bank.
“I feel like I’m valued from a business perspective at Forte Bank,” said Steve. “You can tell it’s one of their beliefs to make their customers feel valued. At bigger banks it feels like you’re just a number on a spreadsheet, but at Forte Bank you’re a human being and that’s invaluable.”
“Forte Bank has been a huge proponent for our business. They have been kind and easy to work with and always provide timely support. I feel like Forte Bank has been a real partner for our growth.”
— Steve Nordness