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CA's Vortex Engineering is a key player in supply chain to defense companies

Posted by Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications on May 25, 2018

This week CompanyWeek and CMTA bring you Vortex Engineering, a Santee based precision machining shop for defense (and commercial) customers like Northrop Grumman, General Atomics and Trandes.

The privately owned company has operated since 1972, prototyping and handling difficult jobs that no other company could handle. President Michael Bice, a 23-year veteran of the Navy, is looking to spark dynamic growth through a diversity of operatioons

Vortex's specialized capabilities allowed it to expand into its core segments. "We're broken up into three basic divisions," says Bice. "Vortex Engineering handles our commercial and engineering services, Vortex Testing does our non-destructive testing, and Vortex Fabrication handles the metal fabrication support. Vortex Testing is our newest offering that we started last year, so we're in the growth stages of that.  It's probably about 10 percent of our business right now, and I expect it to grow to about 25 percent within a year."

It's companies like these that support a long supply chain to large manuafacturers in California but also create supply networks of their own.  Raw materials come from a variety of sources, but the company tries to maintain a chain of local suppliers to provide fast, dependable delivery. One of these is steel that's sourced domestically, thus not affected by recent tariffs. The diversity of work and strategic budget planning makes for consistent cash flow through the normal business cycle, something Bice says he's very conscious about.

Here are a few opportunities and challenges before Vortex:

Challenges: Bice admits it's difficult to find more qualified workers in metro San Diego, and he believes this will be a challenge as the company begins to expand further.

"Another challenge is that we're a fairly small shop that requires a higher level of hustle from workers," he adds. "They have to be motivated and work hard. The mix of those things requires a unique individual."

Opportunities: "The biggest opportunity for us is here in the San Diego area," says Bice. "There's room for growth in defense, shipbuilding, and ship repair work. We're working to position our company to take advantage of that in the most effective way. Within the membrane industry, especially reverse osmosis and water filtration, the industry is growing globally. We have customers in India, Germany, Russia, Italy, China, and locally in the U.S. We're one of three U.S. manufacturers making this membrane filtration equipment domestically, so we're in a good position to take advantage of that industry's growth."

Needs: "We're looking to change our goals to be more of a growth business," says Bice. .... READ MORE ON COMPANYWEEK CA

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