Amidst a post-pandemic environment that is ‘more volatile’ than he can ever remember, Remtex president, Matthew Hodge notes the SDA’s pivotal presence in the company’s ongoing growth

With its advanced waterjet and laser cutting technologies, Remtex has been a key player in custom fabrications in the Chicago area since 1987. The Alsip, Illinois-based company hit a high point with its notable work cutting out locker room logos for a renowned Chicago sports franchise, the Chicago Blackhawks, right before the team won a significant championship.

However, the journey has not been without its challenges. Much has changed since Remtex worked with the Blackhawks in 2009-2010. The economic fluctuations and the unprecedented impact of the 2020 pandemic on small businesses took a massive toll on businesses not just in Illinois, but across the country. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) reported a historic drop in active business during the early months of the pandemic, highlighting the extent of the disruption.

Navigating Economic Uncertainty

Hodge said, ‘While the economy continues to heal, most small businesses have been facing an escalated or more intense form of budget management, not unlike the 2009 financial crisis.’

He continued, ‘With every business doing their best to be fiscally conservative, finding quotes and landing sales while still keeping a livable margin has been more volatile than I can ever remember.’

In the face of that 2009 financial crisis, Remtex confidently forged ahead anyway, purchasing its laser in 2010—showing that in times of crisis, it takes boldness, creativity, and ingenuity to not only stay afloat but thrive. The company is doing that again in 2024, turning to a digital redesign and making savvy use of its local resources through the Southland Development Authority.

Recent Innovations and Community Engagement

The SDA helped Remtex in its application for the 2023 Source Grant, a Cook County Small Business Source initiative that injects $50 million into local small businesses and funded by the American Rescue Plan Act. The grant program targeted small businesses in Cook County most affected by COVID-19. After review, the program found Remtex met its criteria and granted the company $20,000. Hodge plans to use the grant funds to contribute to the downpayment on a new machine. He said his primary goal is to purchase a Trumpf 1030 Fiber Laser. According to Hodge, this laser can do the work of two machines in less than half the time, further propelling the company toward its long-term goal of becoming a manufacturing staple. But the company’s initiatives didn’t end there.

Remtex successfully participated in SDA’s 1:1 Tailored Expert Consulting initiative and as a result, launched a new website. The company’s new website has already led to a 260% increase in engagement between November 2023 to December 2023, coinciding with a 734% jump in active users and a whopping 2,233% increase in search impressions. Those heady numbers are well in line with Hodge’s long-term goal.

Remtex has also leaned on the SDA’s Metals Hub, which is designed to help original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) identify new United States suppliers by facilitating buyer-supplier relationships in the Chicago region.

‘I always viewed Metals Hub as a remote sales team. Not only for Remtex, but for the entire industry on the South Side of Chicago,’ he said, noting that the Metals Hub also supports funding, networking, and other aspects of a growing business. But Remtex’s initiatives go beyond just business.

Bridging Business Success and Personal Aspirations

The company’s success under Hodge can be attributed to much more than technological prowess and financial gains. The company’s president is open about his passion for community engagement and personal growth.

In fact, Hodge is in the middle of a project for the Alsip Fire Department and their Golf Outing, helping to raise funds for its charity.

‘I plan on designing, cutting, and assembling a piece of artwork to then be raffled off at the event,’ he said. Hodge has a personal goal of helping more people. ‘I usually consider this to be through offering more services to our customers and other industries, but eventually grow into offering internships or summer positions, as well as staying involved with local churches and schools for projects and volunteer opportunities.’

For now, Hodge is grateful Remtex has another year in the works. In this economy, Hodge says that is ‘quite the success,’ and notes that SDA has been a pivotal presence in helping shape the future of Remtex.

He concluded, ‘With SDA’s support and shared excitement, I feel confident in our ability to take my business to the next stage. I’m proud to work alongside SDA and its associates, and look forward to many more years of success and opportunities.’

About Southland Development Authority

The Southland Development Authority is a nonprofit business organization launched in 2019 by business, civic, and political leaders from around the Southland who recognize the potential of the region’s people, businesses, and real estate. Our mission is to bring the resources and capacity needed to achieve transformative, inclusive economic growth for the south suburbs with a focus on investments in the Southland’s communities, industry, housing, and workforce.

We work steadfastly to connect Southland business owners, investors, and individuals with key resources to operate and thrive in the region, from equipping mid-size and small businesses in our Business Growth services Program with customized advice and consulting services, to helping local residents access the tools needed to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. With a deep institutional knowledge of the Southland’s people, markets, and history and our multifaceted, experienced team, the Southland Development Authority is a powerful partner for any individual, business, or investor.

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