“If a company has a product and they need a specific part made for it, we’re the company you’re looking for,” said Don Olano, who owns the Plaquemine-based Precision Seals and Manufacturing along with his wife Vivian.
The nearly 30-year-old business started in their garage and has continued to expand and modernize throughout those three decades.
“I was very young when I started this,” Olano said. “…I got a bright idea to start a machine shop.”
With wife Vivian on board – she started by putting different parts together – and now she takes care of the business side, leaving the technical stuff to Don.
“She completely runs the business and she does it well,” he said. “She didn’t know an O-ring from a rubber bellows or a mechanical seal – nothing about the machining part of it.”
“I taught her everything I know,” Olano said, making sure Vivian was within earshot, then laughed. “Truth be told, I couldn’t do this without her taking care of the business side. I know how to make things, not what she does.”
The company has expanded so much over the years, they’ve hired Sue Hunt to help Vivian with her duties.
Everything at Precision is done with the most sophisticated machinery available, machines that can take a rod of steel, aluminum or any other material and make identical parts as long as it takes to fill an order.
“We take a drawing and using our people and our machines and turn them into parts,” Olano said. “We program the machine to make the part, load it with the material the part requires and just let it run.”
“With our ‘lights out’ capability, we let our machines work through the night,” he continued. “We can set our machines up and they’ll run overnight, 24/7.”
Since most of the company’s clients are primarily big manufacturers, orders and shipments are large as well.
“We don’t have to ship five of one part to this company, 10 to another,” Olano said. “No, we ship our products thousands at a time to different customers and they distribute them. We’re just a middle man – that’s out niche.”
There’s no limitation to the number of parts Precision can manufacture and no limit to the materials its employees use.
“We work with all materials, from the really expensive stuff like titanium, all the way down to plastic,” said production supervisor Robbie Baxter, a 23-year employee, who heads up Precision’s “core crew,” as Olano calls them, Dustin Osmer and Cody Kelley.
“All of those materials and everything in between,” Baxter said. “We just do a lot more things right here in Plaquemine than anyone would ever realize.”
Olano said his company is capable of making many of the parts local chemical plants use and “none of them use us.”
“And that’s despite the fact that we’re doing world class machining right here – valve parts, pump parts, mechanical seals,” he said. “We can make all of that right here.”
While the company is wildly successful now, with clients around the globe, the only person certain of Precision’s success when it started up in 1989 was Olano.
He says he was “young and dumb enough” when he started out, “failure never entered my mind.”
“But I had a passion for what I do and I was not going to fail,” Olano said.