Economic Recovery Doesn’t Reach All
Astro-Tek, an Anaheim maker of parts and support items for the aerospace industry, is the type of nimble company that Horton’s bank likes to bet on.
This company started in 2006 when its founder, Gary Goldner, left a firm in a similar metals manufacturing niche to try out his own ideas. Astro-Tek switched to First Enterprise in 2008 when it was the only bank that would lend to Goldner’s operation.
Since inception, Astro-Tek has growth fast – from four employees to 60 and from a factory with 2,500 square feet of space to a newly expanded production facility with 43,000 square feet.
“I have a heck of team of employees,” says Goldner, deflecting much of the credit for what would be remarkable growth in the best of times – but accomplished in a painful slump for factory work.
Goldner says his growth formula is simple. To better serve his many customers with a cost-cutting mindset, he’s willing to trim his price list and aggressively fight for the low bid.
“To be successful, I have to keep work on my floor,” Goldner says. At this moment, that strategy has been so successful that his factory is “maxed out” – running two full shifts’ worth of production.
“It hasn’t been easy,” Goldner admits.
The economy hasn’t been kind to much of his industry – and looming federal defense cuts don’t make the broad outlook brighter.
Plus, it’s challenging to run a manufacturing operation competing on price in a high-cost region like Orange County. Factories making so-called “durable goods” – pricier, longer-lasting items – averaged 112,000 workers countywide in the past year. Yes, that’s the highest level in three years – but the industry is also one-quarter smaller than it was in 1990.
“It’s tough to make money in Orange County,” says Goldner, repeating many of the complaints of his factory peers about local hurdles to expanded profitability – costly labor, facilities and regulations. “But, I love Orange County. This is the place to be. Right in the center of my customers and demand.”
Ah, another love-hate relationship with the local economy.
But The Big O will tell you, lately the business climate’s been too hot to hate for most folks.
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