DELPHOS —Vanamatic’s night shift usually encompases just eight to 10 of its 77 employees. Even so, the air in the 80,000-square foot factory was awash with the hiss of pistons and the buzz of metal grinding metal.
The noise came from hulking, Army-green colored automatic screw machines, which swallow long rods of steel and spit out nuts, bolts, screws and couplings. Vanamatic turns out 15 million of these components a year for use in automobiles, airplanes and tractors.
“If you’ve ever had to change an oil filter, chances are you touched a Vanamatic part,” said plant manager Adam Wiltsie. He’s one of seven Wiltsies who work at the company, which was founded by Adam’s grandfather in 1954.
It’s fitting that a company that makes components that are typically tucked under a car hood or tractor panel, is, itself, supported by unseen processes. Like the 14,000 gallons of oil that continuously flows through the plant, lubricating and cooling the automatic screw machines. Or the pits and conveyors that capture 100,000 pounds of metal filings and chips each week.
They’re out of sight, like a Vanamatic part, hidden underneath the factory floor.
What’s not hidden is University of Michigan pride. The floor is painted Wolverine blue and maize.
“My grandfather’s from Jackson, Michigan,” Wiltsie explained. “You see a lot of Michigan around here.”
Reach Amy Eddings at 567-242-0379 or Twitter, @lima_eddings.