Straza Family Coming Full Circle in the Aerospace Industry
For generations, the Straza family has used its proprietary “recipe” to build thriving businesses in the San Diego area and El Cajon in particular. Not exactly a dash of this or a spoonful of that, but rather, a formula for success in a niche industry – complex metal fabrications for the aerospace market. Today, VerTechs Enterprises, founded and operated by Straza brothers Joey and George, is a rapidly growing aerospace manufacturing company with bright prospects for continued profitability and expansion.
It began when Joey and George’s uncle, John Straza, started Straza Industries in 1948 to supply the burgeoning aeronautical and defense industries with specially designed metal fabricated parts. The company manufactured sheet metal and machined assemblies and offered forming, welding, plating, and brazing capabilities. Joey and George’s father, George, Sr., joined the company as well. After a run of nearly 30 years, employing more than 1200 skilled workers and acquiring significant contracts from major players such as General Electric, Pratt & Whitney and Rockwell International, John Straza sold Straza Industries. At the same time, he and his brother left behind a legacy of excellence– and family recipe for success. “My dad and uncle taught us at a young age that with hard work, determination and grit, along with the right employees and business partners, we could achieve big things,” said Joey Straza.
In 1960, George Straza, Sr., went on to acquire Jet Air Inc., which he grew to become the world’s leading manufacturer of honeycomb seals for the aviation industry. He led the company in obtaining major customers such as General Electric, Rolls-Royce, Pratt & Whitney, Rockwell International, as well as several airlines. After 26 years and at the helm of more than 400 employees, George Straza, Sr. sold the company in 1987. “This culture of serial entrepreneurship was inbred in our family,” explained Joey. “George and I knew we would carry on the tradition of building businesses,” he added.
Joey and George accepted this challenge in 1997 by establishing AeroVision International to manufacture honeycomb and BrazeFoil honeycomb for aviation air seals. “Our father taught us the benefits of specializing and doing one thing really, really well,” said Joey. The two leveraged their family’s reputation for integrity and quality and landed some of the same impressive clients such as Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce. The brothers did not stray from the family business values of teamwork, communication, organization, sense of urgency, and making customers the company’s number one priority. A decade later, once again the Straza’s sold their business and were ready for the next challenge.
In 2007, Joey and George decided to start VerTechs Enterprises, a complex sheet metal fabrication business. This time, their strategy was to focus on manufacturing super-high-quality, lightweight, high-temperature metallic structures for the aerospace industry. To quickly establish a foundation for their business, they bought a small tool and die shop, Luchner Tool Engineering, which already had the right machines and skilled employees to give them a jump start in building their company. “George and I adhered to our family business principles of always being problem solvers and solution finders for customers and maintaining the utmost quality,” Joey described. “Then, we made sure that the rest of our organization adopted the same principles and surrounded ourselves with the most talented team and best partners, just as our father and uncle had done decades ago.”
VerTechs acquired San Diego Welding and Forming in May of 2013. It was a company that had the special-process approvals, machinery and equipment that would be crucial to our future growth. “The acquisition helped us to expand our customer base such as Honeywell, Raytheon, and Rolls-Royce.”
Joey also attributes his family’s “secret recipe” to closely held trade secrets and special processes that guarantee consistent quality and set the company apart. “Our clients appreciate our specialized knowledge and commitment to excellence and know we are proud of our craft.”
To meet the growing demand for its products, VerTechs acquired Circlemaster in May of 2014, a precision sheet metal roll forming company that has been in the aerospace industry since being formed by Tom Henkel Sr in 1948.
All three companies have now merged into one and are now on a 7 acre campus with approximately 100,000 square feet of manufacturing space in El Cajon, CA. “Crazy as it sounds” said Joey, VerTechs entered into a long-term lease for the same facility that their father’s company Jet Air occupied for 26 years. “It was like we had come full circle,” Joey said with heartfelt conviction. “My brother and I are proud and know our ancestors would be, too. VerTechs has come a long way and appreciate the strong business values that our family taught us and the relationships we have formed.”
VerTechs is well poised to support its customer base today and in the future in this ever growing aerospace industry!