Variety is the Spice of Life for Great Lakes Automation - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Variety is the Spice of Life for Great Lakes Automation

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On the outside, Great Lakes Automation may look like a typical factory warehouse.  But once you walk through the doors you'll find it's far from it.

The owners pride themselves on variety.

"Everything we do is pretty custom.  Even though I said we do a lot of repeat customers, a lot of those customers have different products.  So it's a very specialized industry," said Great Lakes Automation president Mark Fatica.

The 35,000 square foot facility is split into four sections including the automation division.  The company designs and builds automotive test systems for other businesses.  Many of the products, you've probably seen or used.

"It's got to be thousands of products we've assembled over the years.  And prior to that, we had 800 machines in the field at one time.  Anything from assembly circuit breakers, to disposable scales, tail light socket assemblies, make-up, it runs a gambit," said Fatica.

The company also makes kits for military radio communication equipment.

"We primarily provide materials, bring it in here, inspect and package it, label it, and ship it to the customer.  It's a customer out of Rochester that's into communications.  They are military radios that go out into the field," said Fatica.

As a service disabled owned company, they pride themselves in hiring veterans like Sergeant. Don Green who served with the 56th Stryker Brigade in Iraq.

"I just like mechanical stuff.  Making things work.  It comes natural, so it's a good fit for me," said Green.

About a year ago the organization started up Great Lakes Auto-nation, in which they refurbish and restore muscle cars.

"We like to specialize in muscle cars, '69 GTO, '67 GTO, we have Chevelles over there, and there's currently three people that work over there," said Fatica.

The company started in 2002, with just three employees.  They now employ 50.  The owners say they key to their success is diversity.

"You have to be diversified, because any one industry can be up or down, at one point.  And you don't want to rely on that one industry, which is sort of what we went through in the beginnings," said Fatica.  "Once we got packaging and kitting, our cash-flow helped the automation side that may have been down a little bit. So definitely diversification," he said.

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