With new fields emerging, Revere eyes future

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ROME — Imagine a company based in New York that supplies Tesla and other electrical car makers with product that’s critical to their carbon reduction automobiles.

Now imagine that company in your own backyard because that’s exactly what’s happening right at Revere Copper Products, Inc., 1 Revere Park.

Revere Copper Products Chairman and retired President and CEO M. Brian O’Shaughnessy said Revere is very busy now, because every electric car uses 50% more of its product than gasoline powered automobiles.

Plus, those who use Zoom or other modes of video conferencing also helps to reduce the carbon footprint of travel, and Revere is helping to provide copper for bus bars and data centers that make those platforms possible.

“This New York-based company supplies almost half of a principal product used in data centers which support video conferencing,” O’Shaughnessy added. “The same product is critical for building efficient electrical substations and transformers for growing wind power. And, their wind turbine generators need this product.”

Now imagine Revere using virtually all recycled materials to make its environmentally-efficient products necessary for the green revolution. Revere has even been recognized by the state Department of Environmental Conservation for outstanding environmental performance.

But O’Shaughnessy said Revere has a problem as several similar companies in China produce the same products from government-subsidized coal fired electricity using raw materials shipped from as far off as Chile. Often they even use recycled feed materials shipped from the U.S.

“Imagine that carbon footprint,” O’Shaughnessy pointed out. “...Revere is facing such fierce competition, which translates to very tight margins.”

Today O’Shaughnessy is pleading with local politicians to support legislation to offset costs for Revere and similar companies that instead help to reduce global carbon emissions.

“I know the committees working on this legislation do not intend to increase global carbon emissions by causing Revere to shut down. Please understand that partial offsets to any increased costs associated with technology to further reduce Revere’s carbon footprint are not acceptable,” he pleaded. “Please work with Revere to efficiently offset all of these costs and stay alive, and to reduce global carbon emissions.”

Revere is an employee-owned company which pays no dividends but reinvests 100% of any cash proceeds in upgrading equipment and training for employee owners.

Revere fabricates copper sheet, strip, coil and bus bar. As such, Revere is an integral part of the supply chain for the manufacturing of copper products, O’Shaughnessy said.

Son and current President and CEO Michael O’Shaughnessy said Revere began its long, rich history when it was founded as a rolling mill by American Patriot Paul Revere in 1801. The business’ first job was putting copper on the floor of the U.S.S. Constitution.

“Back then our naval ships were slower than our competition, because barnacles would grow on the bottom of the ships, slowing them down,” Mike O’Shaughnessy explained. “And the barnacles would need to be knocked off. Copper bottoms prevented that.”

Revere’s first construction job would be the copper roof of the Boston Courthouse, said O’Shaughnessy, adding that the company continues to be a supplier to the U.S. Navy and to the architectural market even all these years later.

While Revere’s Rome location had to close down one of its large tube mills in the early 1980s, and the markets and demand for copper and brass continued to shrink through the 80s, 90s and even “a little beyond,” and also while several customers moved away from the U.S., Revere had to “get really good,” making continuous improvements in manufacturing, said O’Shaughnessy.

We “had to focus a lot of effort on getting really good at continuous improvement in manufacturing, and we’ve been working at that for over 20 years now,” the CEO said. “We never had the capital to invest in equipment — we had to get good at our equipment availability efforts, and work hard to maintain good relationships with our employees — to make sure we create a good environment for everyone to succeed, whether you’re running a forklift, operating a rolling mill or working in accounting. We work hard to set people up to be successful at what we do.”

O’Shaughnessy explained that no one outside Revere owns a part of the company. Therefore, no dividends are paid to anyone outside Revere and whatever the company earns, “we put it back into our equipment and our people.”

“Certainly we had challenging years as markets were shrinking or customers were moving away, but we survived through a lot of resiliency and getting a lot better at things,” he said. “Pre-COVID, we started to hear more and more about customers considering bringing plants back to the U.S., or at least to North America. We were starting to get good recognition for our quality of product — were were starting to be seen as a preferred supplier. And then just before COVID, we were starting an excellent year, and we always heard that copper was going to be important to society and sustainability efforts.”

Those efforts involve copper for electric vehicle batteries and charging stations, as well as other electrical substations and transformers for wind power — a far cry from the pots, pans and other cookware the company had been renown for decades earlier.

“Then COVID hit and everyone went to Zoom and team meeting platforms — from bus bars to data centers, copper helps keep those things moving. So our market started to grow, and through COVID we were seen as a critical supplier, and kept open the entire time,” said O’Shaughnessy. “...Also, our market share has started to increase, so the size of the market and how we’re perceived in those markets has allowed us to get more orders. We’re able to make a little margin where we weren’t able to make that margin before, and now we’re investing in our equipment that was under-capitalized for a number of years.”

The CEO added, “That’s why this testimony is so critical — we fought for decades to stay alive and now we’re seeing things get a little healthier...we’re a key part of the sustainability supply chain.”

And while it remains a small market and isn’t a large concentration for the company, Revere also found during the COVID-19 pandemic, a means to promote the health and safety of city employees. In early 2021, Revere teamed up with Rome Fire Department and donated antimicrobial copper sheets for firefighters to install push pads on some of Central Fire Station’s doors, helping to reduce the presence of bacteria and viruses.

“Copper has antimicrobial properties, so the fire department was interested in working with us,” O’Shaughnessy said. “It’s not one of our bigger markets right now, but we still think it has some potential for the future.”

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