Retro Systems, a fast-growing Valley Center company that makes CNC cutting machines, is a family-owned firm going through a slow transition of ownership.
Company founder and president Paul Riemann said Monday that Brice Turner of Duty First Holdings has joined the company as chief operations officer and managing partner. Lynn Nichols and Jeff Turner of Turner Nichols Group are also equity investors. The financial details of the arrangement were not disclosed.
Riemann will remain as president but turn over day-to-day management to Brice Turner while Riemann focuses on new product development and building relationships with customers. Riemann’s son Jeff Riemann will remain as vice president of product development, and son Brad Riemann will remain as director of marketing.
An Iraqi War veteran who served eight years in the Army, Brice Turner founded Duty First Holdings and managed a production line for Apogee Enterprises.
“I’ve been searching for a small business for quite some time,” Turner said. “I liked the business, I liked the people, and I liked the product.”
Paul Riemann founded the company in 2004 after more than three decades of experience in sales and servicing industrial machinery. He started the company to retrofit old CNC machines but soon began building his own.
Today, demand for the company’s products outstrips Retro Systems’ ability to build machines.
One of the big reasons, he said, is that some manufacturing is returning to the United States from overseas, but it must be very precise and use little labor. His machines allow companies to cut sheets of steel up to 4 inches thick accurately. The company also offers a machine with a swiveling cutting head to bevel edges. It has also just developed a system to cut pipe, such as for oil pipelines.
“Right now we’re selling more than we can make,” said Riemann, who said he welcomed the help from Turner.
“Our goal is to meet demand and cut into the backlog which now stretches into the first quarter,” said Turner.
The company sells about 25 to 30 percent of its machines overseas, mainly in the Middle East, Russia, Mexico and Canada.
Retro Systems employs 45 people. It has a 47,000-square-foot facility at 430 W. Clay in Valley Center and sales offices in Oklahoma, Ohio, Illinois and Minnesota. It recently opened an office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The company has also opened a 7,000-square-foot training facility complete with classrooms and CNC cutting equipment as part of its Valley Center plant.
Riemann said he’d stay on at least two more years.
“Paul wants to retire someday,” Turner said, “but we’re going to try to keep him as long as we can.”