Viewing blog posts written by Gino DiCaro


CA's HDA firm is a gem in specialized and precise MFG

Posted by Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications on July 1, 2018

This week CW California and CMTA bring you HDA, a Lake Forest based development firm that serves a broad range of medical, aerospace, and industrial clients, providing both engineering and contract manufacturing services.

The privately owned company has operated since 1983, recently becoming well known for their products that help clients pass regulatory compliance or solve highly technical and difficult challenges. HDA also sources most of its supply chain - mostly circuit boards - from other California companies.  

With just 16 highly technically skilled employees and almost no automation, HDA is a good example of today's small manufacturing firms that are highly specialized to provide extremely customized products, all the while providing high wage jobs up and down the supply chain.

Most of HDA's supply sources are domestic and CEO Hunt Dabney says he likes to keep it that way as much as possible. "We work with local California communities to populate circuit boards, and we use local laboratories quite often for testing," says Dabney. "Some things, such as electronic distributors, however, get sourced overseas because they are not readily available here in the United States. We try to find the parts that we need, and at times, we have to source them overseas."

Here are a few opportunities and challenges before HDA:

Challenges: Market penetration. "We aren't a large firm, so there is a limit to the number of programs we can run," says GM Jon Schmidt. "Firms like us go in and out of being in a marketing phase. I've spoken with friends who own similar firms who agree that at times, you get too busy to take anything else on. You start finishing programs, then you are back to marketing again. We are working to improve in this area."

Opportunities: "In terms of startup companies, the medical industry peaked last year," says Dabney. "It's interesting to support people as their products are going into clinical trials. We have companies that we work with where we manufactured a product for them 10 years ago, then they'll get acquired and the new owner will not retain the information needed to manufacture the same product. Then, those companies will ask us to build the product back up. We have good record retention and can always help in this area."

Needs: Qualified software, electrical, and mechanical engineers with medical and/or aerospace industry experience. "We always want to network with other companies," adds Schmidt. .... READ MORE ON COMPANY WEEK CA





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Saleen Automotive: Putting the custom in CA manufacturing

Posted by Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications on March 29, 2018

We introduced a new feature to the Champions blog last month.  We have partnered with CompanyWeek (CW) California to share information on the state's premier small to mid size manufacturers.  CW's featured companies are part of CMTA's Champions recognition program, intended to boost the image of California manufacturing and convince policymakers that manufacturing is the single best way to grow California’s economy and create high quality jobs. 

These companies are committed to California and exemplify the high principles of economic growth, innovation, entrepreneurship, and commitment to their employees. Together the CMTA Champions program and CW's many profiles will demonstrate how California manufacturers make a positive impact on their industry sector, their employees and their communities. 

This week CW California and CMTA bring you Saleen Automotive, a Corona-based automobile part manufacturer run by Amy Boylan. The company was founded in 1984 by Steve Saleen and, with lean manufacturing practices and an arduous commitment to social media engagement, Steve and Amy are transforming iconic automotive platforms into custom, high-performance machines. 

Saleen is exactly the type of niche custom manufacturing company that California must seek to grow.  Here are a few opportunities and challenges before them.

Needs: "You can never have enough equipment and people," says Boylan. "In this area of California, it’s hard to find workers. Where we are now, in Corona, California, it’s a great place for a middle-class lifestyle, but not the best place to find executive level employment. Most people at that level are transplants and that’s sometimes difficult.

Challenges: "Trying to grow at the speed we need," says Boylan. "We have turned a corner and are trying to keep up with a growing demand. We have created licensing deals with China to build vehicles over there, but all cars for North America will be designed, engineered, and built in the U.S. There are people here building to design stuff overseas. It’s the same for anyone building a car from scratch."

Opportunities: "Steve has never been pigeonholed into one thing," says Boylan. "He helped build the Ford GT for Ford, He also helped with the Dodge Viper. He’s brilliant in finding new opportunities. The new Saleen 1 (S1) for example breaks the mold for a $100K carbon fiber sports car that can reach 180 mph." ... READ MORE ON CW CALIFORNIA





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Ventura's Hammerhead Industries: Another small manufacturer doing great CA things

Posted by Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications on Feb. 26, 2018

We're introducing a new feature to the Champions blog.  We have partnered with CompanyWeek (CW) California to share information on the state's premier small to mid size manufacturers.  CW's featured companies are part of CMTA's Champions recognition program, intended to boost the image of California manufacturing and convince policymakers that manufacturing is the single best way to grow California’s economy and create high quality jobs. 

These companies are committed to California and exemplify the high principles of economic growth, innovation, entrepreneurship, and commitment to their employees. Together the CMTA Champions program and CW's many profiles will demonstrate how California manufacturers make a positive impact on their industry sector, their employees and their communities. 

This week CW California brings you Hammerhead Industries, a Ventura-based company created by two engineers turned entrepreneurs from General Motors. They founded the company in 1995, which focuses on retractable gear products, and have grown to 23 employees.  Their determination and grit show how a small manufacturer can meet the custom demands of 21st Century markets and compete in a global economy.  

They have tremendous opportunities before them, including in the industrial safety industry, but their business environment challlenges remind us that California policies must always consider the impacts on our state's prized manufacturers' abillity to invest and grow.

 

Hammerhead Industries

Producing a high quality product in the US, two entrepreneurs are meeting the challenges of competing in a global economy and competition from overseas manufacturing. Hammerhead Industries and Gear Keeper products were born from two General Motors engineers looking for a better way to attach and protect their equipment while SCUBA diving. Co-founders John Salentine and Ken Collin tried a basic key retractor to hold their flashlights and gear, but it needed substantially more engineering to make it work properly and to last in salt water and sand.

"We got the product going before 1995," says Salentine. "We linked up with a distributor and put their brand on it. At that time, we operated out of our garage, and around the second year into it, we decided we’ve had to turn this into a real business or someone’s going to copy us." At that point, Salentine and Collin quit their engineering jobs and incorporated Hammerhead Industries for the purpose of designing and building Gear Keeper. ... READ MORE ON CW CALIFORNIA 

 





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