Viewing blog posts written by Gino DiCaro

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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CA's Virginia Park Foods is country's leading gluten free pasta maker

Posted by Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications on April 18, 2018

This week CompanyWeek and CMTA bring you Virginia Park Foods, a Riverside based pasta manfacturer, meeting the exponential demand for gluten free products. The company was founded in 2015 with a 4,000 square foot facility and recently acquired 35,000 square feet in Riverside to accomodate substantial growth. 

Virginia park foods sources most of its products from northern California farms, which makes a perfect case for why California should attract more manufacturing.  Every Californian benefits from long in-state supply chains from manufacturing oeprations. 

Here are a few opportunities and challenges before Virginia Park Foods:

Challenges: "Space is our biggest challenge right now," says Venugopal. "At the pace that we are moving, our 35,000 square-foot facility might soon be too small. We made the conscious decision, however, to stay in California, since this is where we started. We’ve looked at other options such as Detroit and New Jersey, but based on labor requirements and the expertise needed, California is the best place."

Opportunities: "There are always new opportunities in new types of flour," says Venugopal. "Right now legume-based pasta is in demand. Pasta from red or green lentils, black beans, chickpeas are in demand and the retail stores are trying to catch up. Eventually, the opportunities are there for the store brands to pick up on the movement and offer what consumers are wanting. Right now, this is a huge category that has not been fully tapped into by retailers." .... READ MORE ON COMPANYWEEK 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 COMPANYWEEK HERE

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