BROOKSVILLE — Manzi Metals Inc. has plenty of accolades attesting to its standing as a top performer in supplying specialty metals for the defense and aerospace industries.
In fact, you could call it the Rolls-Royce of its field.
Now, after partnering for a year with the famed European car- and enginemaker, Manzi Metals has a prestigious Nunn-Perry Award to place on its mantel.
The company, owned and managed by Barbara Manzi, won one of only eight gold awards presented nationwide among 125 suppliers who participated in a U.S. Department of Defense mentor-protege program.
The local firm partnered from Oct. 1, 2006, through Sept. 30, 2007, with the Rolls-Royce Corp. at the request of Manzi to boost performance, quality assurance, competitive pricing and on-time delivery to buyers.
Rolls-Royce sent professors from the University of Alabama to the plant in the Airport Industrial Park. The professors' expertise is in streamlined manufacturing and managing metals.
Their lessons ranged from high-end areas such as quality assurance, metal tolerances and more efficient cutting and packaging techniques, to ergonomics such as moving workstations to waist level to minimize workers' back stress, Barbara Manzi said.
Manzi Metals buys material from mills and distributes under contract to the Department of Defense and the aerospace industry such products as aluminum, steel, copper, brass, titanium, Hastelloy, Inconel, Kovar and Nitronic, "all high-temperature stuff," Manzi said.
Buyers make up a long list of high-profile companies and agencies: Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Honeywell, Saab Barracuda, Esterline/Amtech, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Sikorsky, the Department of Defense and NASA.
The metals, Manzi said, are used to make turbine engines, armored vehicles, munitions, grenades, helicopters.
"Some uses are top secret," she added.
Manzi Metals is a one-stop shop for users who don't have to place orders with numerous production mills. Manzi shops for them.
The company inspects incoming metal to meet customer standards, then cuts it to size, stencils or etches it with identifying codes so the sources and purveyors can be tracked, then ships it.
And the buyers seem to be pleased. Manzi proudly points to notices on the warehouse bulletin board attesting to scores of 100 percent, 100 percent, 100 percent and 99.8 percent performance in customer satisfaction.
She also shows oversized wall photos of the space shuttles Columbia and Discovery, which contain products from Manzi Metals.
The family business began in 1989 on a shoestring, in $100-a-month rental space, and with an $89 desk from Wal-Mart that Barbara Manzi assembled. She and her son, Louis Kevin Manzi, installed the floor tiles.
Louis Manzi, 42, is now vice president and qualified to perform quality audits of metal suppliers.
"He's the next generation," said his mother.
Barbara Manzi's husband, Louis C. Manzi, is company secretary but a hands-off officer. When he attended the first of many awards ceremonies for Manzi Metals, he was surprised. "Oh, that's what you do," Barbara Manzi recalls him saying.
Barbara Manzi predicts a bright future for the company whose first year conducted $145,000 in business and last year logged a record $7.3-million.
And the honors keep pouring in. The firm has walls of plaques, cover stories from such publications as USA Today, Ebony, Black Enterprise, AARP magazine, Professional Woman's magazine and a $1 bill representing the firm's first $1-million contract.
The family now owns the company's 10,800-square-foot building, which has been enlarged three times. The latest addition, which won't crowd the bragging walls, is a glass, tabletop trophy etched with the seal of the Department of Defense and the names Manzi Metals and Rolls Royce.
Beth Gray can be reached at gray