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Ansonia Manufacturing, located in Sonoma, California, is a woman-owned CNC job shop serving a wide variety of industries. They pride themselves on working cooperatively and creatively with their customers to provide a quick turnaround on quality parts. For more than 25 years Andrew and Jamie Storck have manufactured in Northern California’s wine country. Jamie took over operations 7 years ago, freeing up Andrew to handle estimating and programming. As a job shop, they run anything that comes their way, but Ansonia is known mostly as a turning house with 4 axis milling capabilities. CFO Jamie Storck half-jokingly claims “Sonoma makes wine, Napa makes auto parts, and we make great parts.”

Located in a rural area of Sonoma, Ca. Ansonia Manufacturing is not the typical home-based mom and pop operation. Situated on 2 acres, the 3000sq.ft. manufacturing facility houses state-of-the-art precision turning and milling machines to produce specialty machined parts for the military, medical, aerospace, agriculture, and electronics industries. “We really are a mom and pop job shop,” tells Ansonia’s CFO Jamie Storck. “We live in a rural area with lots of space and have a separate manufacturing building from our home. We have four employees and produce parts for a variety of local customers. We routinely manufacture production line parts for companies like Labcon North America in Petaluma, or Thermal Technology and Idex that are also locals in Sonoma County.”

Left- Two Okuma LB3000 lathes outnumber the lone Haas VF4 at Ansonia Manufacturing. Right – Steve Rodriguez and Jamie Storck reviewing a print and a part from Okuma two.

As a 100% job shop with no outside salesperson, Ansonia Manufacturing rely totally on word of mouth and their reputation to earn and keep business. “Run quantities vary,” tells Andrew Storck. “We take on everything from single piece prototype work to jobs that need 500-1000 parts. It all depends, but the larger the better when we can get it.” Ansonia just completed a complex 5 – part order that they earned not by being the cheapest, but by having the best turnaround time. “We got this job by knocking it out in only two weeks,” adds Jamie. “Others were estimating 6 weeks, but we were able to shift a job off one of our Okuma lathes to the other and make space without sacrificing quality.”

Purchasing a machine tool with flexibility is key at any job shop, but even more so when you are limited on space. Known mostly as a turning shop, the Okuma lathes are the star of the show while their Haas VF4 mill plays a big supporting role. Okuma #1 is a twin spindle LB3000MYW  and Okuma #2 is brand new LB3000MY with a tail stock. Ansonia took delivery of Okuma 2 right as the country shut down for Covid19, not the best time, but as an essential business it meant they needed to play the hand they were dealt and keep running. “Admittedly it wasn’t great timing,” explains Jamie. “Fortunately, we have another Okuma that is also an LB3000 with the same controls, so we were able to start running parts without much training. That being said training is always helpful, especially from Charlie Gilmore at Gosiger the local Okuma distributor. He is super smart, an amazing teacher and a wonderful person to have in the shop. He has an ability to take something very complex and make it easy. We have learned so much from him over the years. A lot of times people forgo the training, especially if they are already familiar with the machine tool, but we look at it as a valuable opportunity to expand our knowledge by having direct access to a specialist. Zoom meetings, calls and lots of emails helped us to get more dialed in while we waited for a little more normalcy. Once the restrictions eased up, we were able to get Gosiger in for extra fine tuning. Support from Gosiger has been great as we all had to adapt to a pandemic work environment.”

Okuma 1 is a twin spindle, large diameter turning center equipped with Okuma’s high-power, high-torque PREX motor and the operator-friendly, OSP-P control.

Ansonia took delivery of their first Okuma, a twin spindle LB3000MYW six years ago when Gosiger rep Paul Missimer sold them on the capabilities and value of Okuma. “Accuracy and precision are what drew us originally to Okuma, and accuracy and precision is why we just got our second Okuma,” touts Andrew. “All day long they run, and run, and run, with very little change. First thing in the morning, to well into the afternoon they still hold the same tolerances. Our new Okuma replaced a similar tail-stock lathe we had from a different manufacturer and the difference is evident. We were expecting the purchase to be an upgrade, but even with it only on the floor for a few weeks the difference is noticeable. We can run faster, and take bigger cuts, all without giving up quality. The combination of the two Okuma turning centers gives us the versatility we need. One machine we can now dedicate to production type runs while having the other open for smaller quantities or quick turnarounds. It is always a juggling act as a job shop, but similar machines make on the fly adaptability a lot easier. We run parts made from plastic, stainless, bronze, aluminum, to Inconel and other difficult to machine/high wear super alloys and the Okumas handle it all.”

With 25 years of success in this industry the ups and downs come and go, but Ansonia Manufacturing had high hopes coming into 2020 like everyone else. “We are used to the cyclical nature of the industry,” explains Jamie. “We were not expecting a worldwide pandemic, but our expectations for a positive year have not been dashed.” Since the COVID-19 outbreak, and as an essential supplier shop, they’ve been helping meet medical supply and laboratory equipment market needs “We have always relied on word of mouth to feed us business and that is even more important when we are all facing the unknown. For us, pounding on new doors is less of a priority than touching base with past and current customers. It is easier to keep a customer than to find a new one, and customer service is a priority here. We are in constant contact with our customers, especially in these crazy times. Sometimes it is working directly with the engineers on a new prototype and other times it is making suggestions as a way to cut production costs or reduce manufacturing time. I’ve called all our medical customers to see if we can help in any way with their added supply demands. It has earned us work, helped out our customers and I hope contributes to making a difference in these difficult and unpredictable times.”

Ansona’s parts range from Salt & Pepper shakers and parts for SLC airport glass sculptures to bulk heads and copper power feed through.

Article by Sean Buur

Photos Contributed by Ansonia Manufacturing