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Wednesday | 13 September, 2017 | 12:16 pm

Ideal integration

By Gretchen Salois

Producer strategizes its output to match demand tides

September 2017 - In the aerospace industry, developing and maintaining relationships takes trust built over long periods. Once established, maintaining that trust is a never-ending job. “It’s a great time to be in aerospace,” says Craig Culaciati, CEO of PRV Metals (PRM). “We established a niche for ourselves in the manufacture of titanium long bar products and are expanding our capacity to support the next growth cycle in the aerospace, medical, industrial and defense markets.”

With a 36 percent increase in sales over the last three years, Culaciati says PRM has carved itself a spot among titanium alloy consumers by helping them reduce total costs and improve their balance sheets. “We are committed to maintaining the shortest lead times and finding solutions to mitigate supply chain interruptions,” he says.

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PRV Metals keeps raw material inventory in stock to support compressed production lead times demanded by its customers.

Platte River Equity, parent of PRV Metals, acquired Sierra Alloys and TSI Titanium in 2011, adding to a portfolio of companies with a specialty metals platform. Anchored in two locations: Sierra Alloys in Irwindale, California, and TSI Titanium in Derry, Pennsylvania, each company produces high value-added products. Sierra’s primary product is titanium flat bar/narrow plate, while TSI produces titanium round bar.

PRV Metals makes products used in multiple commercial and military platforms including nuclear submarines, munitions, down-hole drilling, medical implants and desalination plants.

Great expectations

PRV Metals’ customer list speaks for itself: It is a qualified vendor to aerospace juggernauts such as Bell Helicopter, Boeing, Bombardier, General Electric and Lockheed Martin—to name a few. “A firm is known by the company it keeps,” says Ed Brennan, vice president of sales and marketing for PRM. “We are proud to be a strategic supplier to the largest OEMs as well as machine shops and key distribution customers.”

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Titanium long bar products are a specialty for PRV Metals. A customer recently requested forged titanium bar with elevated fracture toughness requirements.

PRM strategizes its output to match demand tides. Based on internal forecasts, it keeps raw material inventory in stock to support compressed production lead times. “When a customer calls, you have to be open and ready to say, ‘Yes, we can help,’” Brennan says. “More and more companies are focused on cash generation and actively managing their inventories to meet shareholder expectations. We work toward solving supply side challenges. In many ways, we become a partner by listening and asking the right questions.”

Sierra Alloys and TSI Titanium convert material melted by producers from across the world. “Our aim is to ensure that we are there and able to meet demand during those surge periods of productivity in the industries we serve,” Brennan says.

Concurrent design

The ability of PRV Metals to produce custom rectangular product with industry-required tolerances allows for improved yields for each customer. “We have worked closely with machine shops to optimize their water jet nesting results through concurrent design efforts,” explains Brennan. “With advancements in high-speed milling, there are times when custom-sized forged block can be competitive with closed die applications.”

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PRV Metals products are used in commercial and military platforms like nuclear submarines and munitions, but also in down-hole drilling and desalination plants.

For example, a customer recently asked PRV to produce forged titanium bar with elevated fracture toughness requirements. “An OEM on a new commercial platform was looking for a second producer that could obtain first-article approval on a titanium bar product with metallurgical requirements that exceeded normal specification standards,” Brennan says. The new product development manager at PRV Metals worked for over a year with the melt shop and the manufacturing team at Sierra Alloys to “develop the tightly controlled process to get the desired results.”

TSI worked closely with another customer to develop a cost-effective alternative on a large-diameter titanium part that replaced a legacy casting application. The forged product allowed the customer to save on costs while achieving a higher metallurgical result. “[The forged product] reduced the excessive rework costs associated with the casting,” Brennan says.

“It is incumbent for the key leaders at PRV Metals to relentlessly challenge all of our legacy assumptions as we continue to find ways to stay competitive in a rapidly changing aerospace environment and differentiate ourselves in the eyes of our customers,” Culaciati says. "Before any relevant decision is made, the impact to our employees, customers and shareholders is considered.”

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When Culaciati took over as CEO of PRV Metals in 2013, a straightforward approach to business was at the forefront of his mind. “We try to keep the focus simple by concentrating on three core areas of the business: human capital development, continuous improvement, and marketing and branding,” he says. Each department communicates on a weekly basis between quality, manufacturing, sales, IT and maintenance. Employees travel back and forth between the two locations to ensure face-to-face meetings.

Since 2011, PRV Metals has built upon the entrepreneurial legacy of founders Joseph Augustyn (Sierra Alloys) and Edward Sobota Sr. (TSI Titanium). With capital and moral support from Platte River Equity, Platte River Metals has demonstrated strong growth with an insatiable appetite to find new opportunities. “We are winning and making sure our employees enjoy the ride and share in our success,” Culaciati says. MM

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