So “Delta” really describes more than one company, right?
We’re lumped into two different companies: Delta Research and Delta Gear, Inc. Delta Gear produces gears for the aerospace industry, while Delta Research does more automotive prototypes and off-highway, defense-type gears: heavy trucks, moving equipment, mining, and drilling. Delta Gear specializes in precision gears, precision shafts, splines, collets, internal ground ring gears, pump gears, prototype gears, master gears, exotic gears, and gear assemblies. Our work is used by NASA and powers the fuel pumps on many aircraft, as well as with the Navy. We provide world-class solutions to the most demanding applications, tapping the expertise that only comes from decades of proven performance.
How long have you been with Delta?
I’ve been here for six years—pretty short in the long scheme. We are a third-generation company, started in 1952 by Alex Sakuta. He started it as a prototype design and build company for the auto industry. Alex was a mechanical engineer by trade. He was designing transmissions for a large auto company when he decided started his own company.
From there, his two sons Bob and Dennis expanded Delta Research into a number of different industries. Very soon after automotive came defense, then the aerospace industry. We’ve been doing work for those industries for decades, along with trucking and off-highway. And even though those came on decades ago, we still enjoy the diversity that they provide today. However, they all present their own challenges.
What about your facilities and equipment? I understand you’ve built some new buildings recently.
Delta Gear is a fairly new facility, only two years old, and we’ve added a new building for Delta Research as well. We’ve over doubled the size and “footprint” of our company significantly in the past few years. Since I’ve started we’ve almost tripled our sales, and we have aggressive growth prospects; we’re bringing on quite a few people to help us meet that goal. It’s exciting. There’s a good chance we will double again in the next five years. That involves additional management and internal process controls—basically adding an entirely new level of support for our customers and the executive team.
The equipment that we have here is all leading edge equipment—from the two Gleason GP300ES CNC Shaping Machines to the KAPP VUS 65 and 67. The KAPP machines are truly the benchmark gear grinders for aerospace grinding. They have the ability to do stock division, in which you can actually calculate the amount of material you’ll be removing on each blank, which ensures that you’re not removing too much case off of any single gear tooth. This is critical when grinding gears that go to a critical component. It’s highly controlled.
I hear people talk a lot about their “aggressive growth prospects,” but what is Delta Gear actively doing to grow?
We’re tier one to a lot of customers in different industries. As you continue to grow, you get more hands helping stir the pot. You have to make sure everybody knows what they’re doing. The most difficult thing is finding capable individuals to help your company grow. Good gear people don’t grow on trees. So we work to provide a great environment for our employees, where there is a high level of mutual respect between management and the team—we treat them like family. We still have that family feel, even though we’re up to roughly 130 employees. We still know everybody by name.
What we’re finding is that we have to grow these workers organically. You can’t just hire someone out of the blue, off the street and expect him or her to handle the kind of CNC equipment that we have in our facility. Some of our workers are running million-dollar machines. So we’ve partnered with the area schools and worked with them to find people who have the desire, drive, and ability to be valuable part of our company. We’re currently in the process of developing a curriculum, in addition to the in-house training program that we have, so that we can develop workers for our company and for our community as well. It enhances our region’s ability to become a center for excellence in gear manufacturing. We’ve become part of an “industrial council” connected with local colleges and areas of higher learning that discusses current curriculums, how to attract the right people for their schools, and how to train them up to become the next generation’s manufacturing technicians.
What sort of students do you look for?
We look for candidates who have the interest and ability to make a career at the Delta Companies. The schools give them the basics, and we develop them from that point. It helps us to identify individuals who have the ability to become the highly trained technicians we have in our facility.
I noticed on your website that you advertise “exotic” gears …
From time to time, we’re asked to produce gears or rolling elements that aren’t traditional. Much of our equipment is designed to produce these types of involute, like a particular profile on a free-form surface. That’s where the partnership between Delta Research and Delta Gear comes in: We can produce non-involute forms and exotic profiles with our 5-axis milling capabilities at Delta Research, and then we can grind many of those surfaces with our Studor S40 at Delta Gear.
MORE INFORMATION: Visit www.deltaresearch.com or call (734) 261-6400.