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Tamshells 20,000sq.ft. climate controlled manufacturing facility is filled with Haas, DMG Mori, Citizen, Tsugami, and Brother machine tools.

Tamshell Precision CNC Machining is the classic American manufacturing success story. Their decades long journey began in the Pierce’s garage with a husband/wife team making parts after hours. Soon joined by the Hernandez family, this 40 plus year relationship has built their brand on their ability to machine tight tolerance plastic parts in aerospace, defense, oil and gas, energy, hydraulics, medical and fluid control industries. Through precision and service Tamshell have gone from garage based to a 20,000sq.ft. climate-controlled manufacturing facility in Corona, Ca. Still 100% a family business they now have 85 employees and are guided by a second generation of managing partners.

Art Pierce and John Hernandez are technically retired from the day-to-day operations, but retired means different things when it comes to family businesses.  It isn’t uncommon to see the co-founders onsite offering insight and wisdom up and down the halls, but sons Mike Hernandez and Justin Pierce are at the helm these days. “Our dads started this business by seeing a need and creating a niche,” tells Tamshell CEO Justin Pierce. “They recognized an opportunity to stand out from other CNC companies that only worked with metals by machining plastic. We’ve always been known for our ability to machine complex tight tolerance parts out of plastics. Art and John would take in any plastic type of job off the street. You never knew if that simple washer run was going to turn into something more. Over the years those washers have led all the aerospace Primes to us. Not saying they knew that there would be a big metal to plastics conversion, making airplanes lighter, but they saw a need with future expansion as a possibility.”

Left – Tamshell’s newest machine is the highly capable DMG Mori NLX 2500|700 advanced turning center. It is one of the many DMG machines in the turning and milling departments. They find the speed, accuracy and versatility of the NLX to be a perfect addition and expect to add a few more. Right – Tamshell’s Swiss turning department is mostly made up of Citizen lathes. They have one A 32, two L20, four K16 and two L38XII machines. The department can machine parts from 1/16th” up to 1.5” and have up to 9 axis.

Much of Tamshell’s success comes from diversification. No one customer makes up more than 10% of their annual sales. “We are lucky to have such a varied client base,” explains Tamshell’s sales manager Adam Bolt. “We are not beholden to a single customer or industry, so we have a stability that some would envy. We are ITAR, AS9100, and ISO9001 certified and by the time this article is published we will be ISO13485 certified as well. I’m looking forward to the new opportunities available to us with the medical cert. We got our start in plastics, but we machine similar type parts out of aluminum, brass, bronze and steel. We have our eyes set on machining titanium and other metals as well. We maintain Gold Status with all our aerospace customers, so I’m excited at the prospect of selling our 99% quality and delivery services to a new crop of medical companies. Until you see us in action you can’t get the full understanding of what we do.” 

Tamshell is a small family run business, but don’t let that fool you. With a marketing division, in-house sales team, a customer service and quality assurance department they go above and beyond when it comes to added value. Tamshell might not be the cheapest out there, but Adam insists you get more than you pay for. “We are able to support complexity and volume across the board,” explains Adam. “Everything from basic washers to highly detailed complex assemblies are all in a day’s work. The hard part from a procurement standpoint is explaining our wide range of capabilities. Our “sweet spot” is all contingent on the project. Customer retention and reoccurring business is huge with us. Tier one and OEMs are our primary customers, and we grow every year by cultivating the relationships we already have. New projects, or different departments are the fastest way for us to earn more of their business. We also have a monthly advertising budget to attract new partners. We get the calls, set the meetings, but we really hook em when they see our manufacturing facility.”

Tamshell Precision CNC Machining made a name for themselves machining complex, tight tolerance plastic parts. Over the years they have branched out into aluminum, brass, bronze, and stainless steel.

As the company’s sales manager Adam is tasked with the age-old problem of how to set Tamshell apart from other manufacturers with similar skill sets. His answer is always simple “customer service.” “Service means different things to every customer,” continues Adam. “For some it is a phone call or an email and others it’s about tapping into our experience to find better ways to machine a part. We have a dedicated department for customer service. Our jobs are often mission critical, and having someone respond and get answers is paramount to our success.” Another large part of their customer service program is partnering on long term buy in programs. “It’s rare that a company of our size has the capital to support buy in programs,” continues Justin. “You must have programs and people in place to support the industries we serve. We have a great team and have the best value propositions around. Quality and service have always set us apart.” “Company culture also plays a big part in customer service,” adds Adam. “I came from big corporate 9 years ago and the whole pitch of moral was just noise, here is it a way of life. Culture is the real deal at Tamshell, such a good group of people. We all take so much pride in being part of national defense, medical miracles, and rocketing to the stars that everyone wants to come to work and do better than they did the day before.”

Tamshell’s manufacturing facility is packed with a variety of CNC and manual machines ranging in capabilities and sizes. They offer advanced milling, turning and swiss screw machining, with close to 40 CNC machining centers between the three departments. The milling department consists of (3) DMG DuraVertical 5100 with 4 and 5 axis, (2) Haas VF4 4 and 5 axis capabilities, (3) Haas mini mills, a Brother Speedio S700X1 4 axis, and. Swiss turning is made up of a total of nine Citizen multi axis Swiss turning centers. Tamshell’s fifteen lathes are a mixture of DMG Mori and Haas. “Over the years we’ve been making advancements in technology throughout the shop,” tells Justin. “With new software, processes, and machines we’re consistently improving to best serve our customers. Floor space is at a premium, so we are phasing out older machines that don’t offer any automation. I’m not going to put in a basic 3 axis mill or a single turret lathe when I can have an advanced DMG in the same footprint. It is often a misconception that you only need higher end machine tools to run harder metals, but our DMG Mori’s get the job done for us in all materials. We get better quality, better speed, and better longevity out of having top of the line brands like DMG Mori and Citizen. Our newest machine is a DMG MORI NLX2500/700SY turning center. The NLX is a robust machine, it’s fast, versatile and accurate. It has been a great addition to the shop.”

Left – Tamshell has a trio of DMG Mori DuraVertical 5100 4/5 axis mills. Right – Tamshell’s Brother Speedio S700X1 high speed 4 axis mill.

Along with challenging machinability they require a different mindset, added care, and cleanliness most shops don’t want to mess with. G10, G11, FR4 and so forth are abrasive and nasty materials to work with. Heat is always a problem in machining, but even more so in plastics when each material has its own set of unique thermal properties. Explaining that to people is often difficult, but Tamshell proactively works with engineering teams to help mitigate possible issues. “Our customers really value our 40 years of tribal knowledge,” describes Adam. “The print might call for holding two tenths in PTFE, and we can do that on the machine no problem at all. But when you hold that part in your hand it becomes out of spec. Even the best engineers don’t always know the nuanced differences between Mitsubishi’s materials, Dupont or Ensinger. Throw in PEEK, Ultem, PTFE and polycarbonate and now we’ve run the gamut on hard, abrasive, heat resistant, and brittle. That’s where our experience really comes into play, and our service is most valuable.”

Tamshell was built off a great partnership between Art and John. That same spirit holds true with Justin and Mike. They both grew up sweeping the floors and taking on duties only suited for being the bosses’ kids, molding them into the leaders they are today. “Our dads worked as a team, and Mike and I have that same relationship,” tells Justin. “We are a great pairing. Both of us have held every job in the company and can walk the walk. These days Mike focuses most of his efforts out in the shop, and I concentrate on the office. Together we bounce back and forth between the different departments, picking each other’s brains for ideas and solutions. This approach works well for us as individuals as well as a company. Not only did our fathers teach us how to machine a part, but they instilled a sense of teamwork that I feel we are fortunate to be able to leverage into success. We’ve found a great balance and want to maximize our efforts with continued growth. We’ve put the right people in place, spent time developing them, and we are primed for expansion. Within the next year we are going to blow up in a good way. Not sure yet if that is buying a larger building, adding a second location, or purchasing another company to add to our capabilities. Lots of avenues to choose from, and it is just picking the right one for Tamshell as a company now, and for Tamshell as a company in the future.”

Tamshell team left to right – Eric Davison, Daniela Valadez, Michael Hernandez, Justin Pierce, Bryan Moss, Albert Ochoa, Jose Ceja