Monday, September 1, 2014     Volume: 15, Issue: 25

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Santa Maria Sun / Biz Spotlight

The following article was posted on November 29th, 2012, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 13, Issue 38 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 13, Issue 38

Spotlight on: Local manufacturing


Four local manufacturing companies have come together in support of the Northern Santa Barbara County job market and to continue growing the field of machinists.

Manufactured moola:
A quartet of local manufacturing companies recently donated $120,000 to Allan Hancock College to keep its machining and manufacturing technology program afloat. Pictured from left are Eric Melsheimer of Melfred Borzall; Alex Ek and Leroy McChesney of Helical Products; Allan Hancock College interim superintendent/president Elizabeth Miller; and Hancock machine technology instructor Robert Mabry.

Allan Hancock College has received a pledge of $120,000 in cash and equipment to go toward hiring a full-time faculty member in the school’s machining and manufacturing technology program. The partnership includes Helical Products, Melfred Borzall, the Blaine Johnson Foundation, and Karl Storz Imaging, and will allow the college to offer at least five classes in machining and manufacturing through the 2014-2015 academic year.

The machining and manufacturing department has been struggling to stay afloat due to recent budget cuts. Losing the program could prove devastating to local manufacturing companies, since Hancock offers the only machine technology training program from San Jose to Ventura, and eliminates such a loss would greatly reduce the number of qualified applicants available locally for hire.

“We, along with other manufacturing firms in Santa Maria, felt we needed to do something to keep the program from going away. So we got together and weighed our options and sought out additional donations and ended up raising $120,000 for the program,” said Leroy McChesney, vice president of operations for Helical Products.

Machinists are in high demand on the Central Coast for manufacturing, agriculture, medical instrument manufacturing, aerospace, and more. The Central Coast produces important components for the Mars rovers, drag racing engines, aircraft interiors, and other high-tech products needed around the world.

“Manufacturing is alive and well. We are continuing to need skilled people and resources in manufacturing in this area. We have openings for hire right now and anticipate continuing to need them,” McChesney said.

The strong demand for skilled local employee candidates brought four companies together to keep the program going.

“For us, the program is good business, and over the past three years it has already made a big impact in the quality of local employee candidates,” he continued.

Without the local support from these companies, it’s unlikely the program would have been able to continue. This partnership is being seen as a win-win scenario for Hancock, local manufacturing companies, and students who can now comfortably work together to meet the needs in the world of machine and manufacturing technology.

For more information about the machining and manufacturing program at Allan Hancock College, contact Robert Mabry at or call 922-6966, Ext. 3487.



The Buellton Chamber of Commerce, Buellton Rec Center, Buellton Historical Society, Buellton Senior Center, and the Santa Ynez Valley Hotel Association are ready to celebrate all things winter. The annual Winter Fest will run from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Dec. 2, and will include breakfast with Santa, a free concert, vendors, and even real snow.

Breakfast with Santa will be from 9 a.m. to noon at the Buellton Rec Center gymnasium. Admission is $12, but children ages 10 and younger get in free. Come back to the rec center at 4 p.m. for a free concert.

Also beginning at 4 p.m. is the Holiday Village on the Avenue of Flags, featuring live music, vendors, food, drink, carolers, and snow.

The day will end with a tree lighting ceremony at 7 p.m.

For more information, visit

Biz Spotlight was written by Intern Allen Achterberg. Highlights are written and compiled by Managing Editor Amy Asman. Information should be sent to the Sun via fax, e-mail, or mail.