Small Business

Family-owned metal parts company plans move to bigger space as it grows

Dustin Gray, Charlotte Anderson and Tony Poell with some aircraft parts made by Metal Arts Machine Co.
Dustin Gray, Charlotte Anderson and Tony Poell with some aircraft parts made by Metal Arts Machine Co. Courtesy photo

Dustin Gray says his family’s machining business probably could have expanded earlier. But the cautious approach appears to be paying off now with a move across town that will more than double its space.

“We’re maturing as a company and finally being recognized for doing good work beyond a certain level,” said Gray, vice president and general manager of Metal Arts Machine Co.

The business, which supplies small and medium-size parts to the aerospace and electronics industries, has grown its workforce from 37 to 42 employees since January and expects to add about 10 more next year.

“The whole point of moving is we’re out of floor space here,” Gray said.

Gray’s parents, Jean and Don Gray, bought a much smaller machine shop in 2003, renamed it and put Gray in charge. The family also owns Metal Arts LLC, which makes structural and ornamental steel products, as well as a real estate properties company, all part of the Metal Arts Group. Jean Gray is majority owner of Metal Arts Machine, while her son and Tony Poell, its vice president for engineering, have smaller shares.

Metal Arts Machine Co. currently occupies about 11,000 square feet divided between three older buildings on Gordon Street, in southwest Wichita. It’s moving to a modern 24,000-square-foot facility on five acres at 3921 Bridgeport Circle, in north Wichita near I-135 and East 37thStreet. Metal Arts LLC will stay at its current location on West 30thStreet South. Gray said the family plans to lease or sell the property on Gordon Street.

The move is expected to happen before the end of the year and take about two weeks to complete. “We are currently building ahead to keep our customers supplied,” said Charlotte Anderson, the operations manager who recently joined Metal Arts so that Gray could focus more on business development.

In the company’s early days, he noted, “I actually worked Thanksgiving Day making orders.”

Metal Arts Machine makes what are known as machined details and assemblies. The company has parts on “every Boeing commercial jet airline,” Gray said, and also makes parts that are sold to manufacturers such as Textron, Lockheed Martin and Bombardier.

Gray said sales have grown 15 to 20 percent annually in recent years. Anderson was also brought on board to help the company seek additional opportunities, including direct government contracts.

One interesting real-estate holding of the Metal Arts Group are two Oxford Houses, which help people recover from drug and alcohol addiction. Gray said the company occasionally hires residents, as well as convicted felons, who are qualified.

“We don’t hold that against them. I believe in second chances.”

Metal Arts Machine Co.

Address: 1145 S. Gordon

Phone: 316-425-2579

Owners: Jean Gray, Dustin Gray, Tony Poell