When Aaron Gilliam from Aarons Fabrication and Anthony Elias, Aerospace Account Manager at Valiant TMS, were introduced by Tony Vernaci at an AIAM golf outing, they did not realize that it was the beginning of a successful business relationship. Today, Valiant TMS provides intelligent automation solutions to Aarons Fabrication.

“We stayed in touch after that initial meeting, and when an opportunity came about from Aaron’s side, he reached out to see how Valiant TMS could help improve a manufacturing process that would better support their customer requirements. Through those discussions, a business relationship was solidified.”

This type of connection bridges the gap between large and small companies, providing an arrangement that is beneficial to both. As Anthony said, “Valiant TMS really respects and looks forward to working with companies of all sizes, across industries. We like collaborating with companies when there is a clear benefit to mutually improving our businesses. We were interested in diversifying our portfolio of work and had never been involved with the gas industry before.”

Aarons Fabrication is a family-owned, WBENC Certified business, located in Clinton Township Michigan that specializes in developing cutting edge infrastructure solutions for leading Gas Utility companies. AF products help Utility companies achieve their vision of creating a more sustainable future. Their highly diversified fabricated product line includes: Residential, Commercial & Industrial Gas Meter Set Assemblies, Mounting Bracket solutions, along with many other fabricated piping systems.

“We’re a prime tier 1 supplier in the Utility sector,” said Aaron Gilliam, Vice President of Aarons Fabrications, “but we joined AIAM to diversify into the Aerospace industry. We wanted to look and see if there were potential opportunities that aligned with our current capabilities. This relationship (with Valiant TMS) was pretty unique in that we were trying as a fabricator, to become a supplier to Valiant TMS and expand our business. We actually ended up contracting them to build automated assembly cells for us along with winning business from them in the Automotive & Aerospace industries.”

Aaron described how his company was stuck producing tens of thousands of units annually for an infrastructure product manually when Valiant TMS came up with a plan for them, “What they were able to do is come in and provide a cost-effective solution and automate the process so it could cut the labor in half and increase the efficiency. Our companies had a joint R&D project and developed cutting edge manufacturing technology to automate the Assembly Process of one of our high-volume products.  Even being in the Natural Gas Industry, I always wanted to learn from the best in the Automotive & Aerospace Industries.” said Aaron Gilliam. “Valiant TMS is on the cutting edge of developing intelligent factory solutions for global OEMS and I felt with their expertise we could change the way this product historically has been manufactured by all of our competitors. Looking forward we have multiple projects in the scope to work with Valiant TMS on.  Our goal is to become the largest above ground piping fabrication company in the nation and will need partners like Valiant TMS to help us achieve this vision within the decade. Intelligent manufacturing solutions like Valiant TMS offers will give our company a major edge in our sector and help us compete on a national level as we continue to scale.”

Valiant TMS provides intelligent automation solutions that leverage new technologies to create smart and sustainable factories for the world’s leading companies. The company specializes in welding and joining, automated assembly and test, industrial parts washers, final assembly, and materials handling systems. They operate in 13 countries, and their US facility is located just 23 miles away from Aarons Fabrication. Anthony Elias initially found AIAM through a Google search, “They were exactly what we were looking for in an association.”

“We collaborated with Aaron and his team, worked through initial phases to understand their requirements, and provided them with a quote,” Anthony said, “What was so great about working with Aaron and his family is that they were so understanding.”

Although the work involved is not aerospace-related, it demonstrates the versatile and robust connections AIAM facilitates. Many different networking opportunities are possible through the association.

Anthony has advised other companies about AIAM and the benefits of getting involved, “The only reason Aaron and I were introduced was that we were both at the golf outing. I encourage everyone to participate in the events AIAM coordinates and chat with people. Talk to Tony, let him know what you’re looking for!”

Aaron agreed, “From the perspective of a smaller company: go for it. The key thing for me is to connect with Tony. He really wants to help everybody in the organization, but you have to want to be helped. You never know what could come of it two years down the road. It’s really just about being active and going to the events, supporting the organization as a whole, and not looking over any opportunity.”