The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Front.sculpt
    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
  • Front.tar.wide
    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
  • Front.pull
    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
  • Front.ropes
    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.homecoming Court
    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
  • Front.park.lights
    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.

Roth Fabricating earns contractor award 2008.01.09

Written by David Green.


The owners of Morenci’s Roth Fabricating Inc. are delighted with their involvement in the supply stream for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It’s their chance to “support the troops” and develop their business at the same time.

It’s not just Roth that’s happy with its military contracts. Just ask Pennie Southwell, executive director of the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) based in Jackson. She was in Morenci Friday to present Roth co-owners Shane Sarnac and Simone Haas with an award naming the company the Government Contractor of the Year for Lenawee County.

Southwell hopes the honor doesn’t end there. Of all the businesses in the running for the statewide honor, the list has shrunk to three and Roth is among them.


Southwell doesn’t hand out awards automatically. Some years pass without the county honor, she said.

“You have to be exceptional to get this award,” she said.

The 13 PTAC offices in Michigan follow a common mission: enhancing national defense while building business for state companies. By building a broad base of suppliers, PTAC aims for better products and services at lower costs through increased competition.

Roth Fabricating fits right in with that goal. Take the M-16 rifle racks, for example. It’s a favorite of Sarnac’s because it was the first military contract the company was awarded. It’s also a favorite of his for illustrating how his firm is saving money for the Department of Defense.

When he bid on the job, the Department of Defense was paying $320 for each rack.

“We’ve been able to bring it down to $220 and still make a profit,” he said.

Sarnac said it’s tough finding out everything that’s available for military needs, and that’s where PTAC comes into play. The agency first helps companies obtain the information needed to submit a contract, and then follows up by helping companies get their specifications in order before submitting.

Roth no longer has trouble learning about contracts, Southwell said.

“They’ve been doing this long enough that the feds are coming to them now.”

The company’s defense contracts continue to grow.

“We probably do 200 different items for the military,” Sarnac said.

New jobs coming up in the spring include engine stands used for overhauling Humvee engines, along with a sling to lift the engines. Work will also get underway on a frame that will allow missiles to be transported on vehicles.

Laser equipment

Sarnac attributes a large part of the company’s success to a laser cutting system capable of producing steel parts up to an inch thick. The company can produce small quantities of parts without the expensive die press process—what was once the only way to get the job done.

At one time Sarnac and Haas were planning to expand their building this year—the structure is engineered to double in size by adding a twin to the existing building—but instead they invested in a new laser cutter six months ago. Eventually, profits from that machine will pay for the expansion.

Not all of the profits go to the building project, however. The company’s 24 employees also beroth.racks.jpgnefit from a profit-sharing program.

Sarnac is careful not to place too many eggs in the military basket.

“We really want to build up our non-military contracts, too,” he said.

Roth recently landed a big project for Hydro Aluminum in Adrian to build equipment for a new line. Roth also does work with local companies including Cargotainer, Adrian Rack, Sauder Woodworking, Aero Corp., Applied Molded Products and Wauseon Manufacturing.

In many cases, it’s a reciprocal relationship, such as the plastic coating done on rifle racks by Adrian Rack. In other cases, it’s a simple matter of practicality. Sauder is great with wood, Sarnac says, but Roth can produce the metal carts Sauder uses much more efficiently.


Sarnac credits Roth’s success to an attitude of adaptability, going back to the company’s founding in 1980 by Jim and Rita Roth.

“That’s how we built this business from day one,” he said. “We’ve done everything under the sun. Whatever you need, we’ll find a way to do it at a good price.”

Not only that, Roth will get it done on time.

“We were late on only one contract last year,” Sarnac said. “We have a very high rating for a fabricator.”

With the new laser in operation—working unattended all through the night—Roth depends less on others to help get the job accomplished.

Roth Fabricating might be needing the other half of their building now that Historically Underutilized Business Zone status (HUBZone) was achieved through the Small Business Administration. Actually, all of Lenawee County is now certified due to the effort of Rep. Tim Walberg.

The HUBZone Empowerment Contracting program became law in 1997 with the goal of encouraging economic development in underutilized small businesses in distressed areas.

In the past, Roth bids had been passed over because the company wasn’t part a HUBZone—even though its prices were cheaper. That shouldn’t happen in the future.

“I can burn and cut with anyone and probably do it cheaper,” Sarnac said. “This puts you in the ball game.”

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