Titan Industries' CEO and founder, Joe Manzo, was recently named one of the top 35 Entrepreneurs 35 and Under by the Arizona Republic for his leadership in metal additive manufacturing here in the valley and in Arizona.
Describe what your company does
Titan Industries a Tempe, Arizona-based engineering firm focused on titanium additive manufacturing, or 3D printing. Titan was created to accelerate the adoption of metal additive manufacturing within the aerospace industry while maximizing the benefits of the technology, including transition of the industry from rapid-prototyping to rapid manufacturing and certification of end-use parts
Describe the successes you have experienced
Titan has established a steady revenue stream in design for Additive Manufacturing and operation of additive manufacturing machines, over the past 18 months, with key contracts with LAI, International, Orbital Sciences, Parker Aerospace, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
More strategically, Titan has established itself as a local, statewide, and national leader in certification of Additively Manufactured components. I am co-Chairman of the AZ Tech Council AM Committee, bringing together all the additive companies in this state, including Orbital Science, Boeing, Honeywell, Raytheon, and others. My VP of Engineering, Brian Vetere, sits on the FAA Committees that are writing the international specifications for Additive Manufacturing. My CTO, Dr. Karl Schultz, sits on the board of the Arizona Manufacturing Partnership, dedicated to development of a 21st century workforce here in Arizona. Both Karl and I sit on the board of Aerospace Arizona, chaired by State Senator Andrew Sherwood.
These positions have helped us aggressively drive our agenda to expand the use of this disruptive technology within the state and nationally.
Describe the growth your company has experienced and what spurred that growth
Our growth has been steady and systematic, paced by short term revenue through design services and manufacturing operations contracts. The demand for our services is driven by widespread recognition of the potentially disruptive capability of Additive Manufacturing to help companies design and produce parts that are faster, cheaper, and higher performing than traditionally manufactured components.
This revenue generated by our first customers has been reinvested in growth of our team from 2 to 6 people within the last 6 months; expanding our capability and our capacity.
We anticipate this growth to accelerate as the FAA nears release of the specifications for additive manufacturing, to be released for ballot in November of 2017, expected to be approved in Q1 of 2019. Prior to that approval, we are positioning ourselves across the industry as experts in certification of AM components.
Give at least one example of a challenge you have faced and how you handled it
Training engineers on a new technology. Because additive manufacturing is so new, there is a shortage of experienced and qualified engineers. To solve this problem, we created a comprehensive training program that gives engineers the background, theory, and practical experience needed to design and manufacture components via additive manufacturing. By exploiting the speed and flexibility of additive, our engineers can gain multiple cycles of learning much more quickly than they could as legacy design engineers.
What are your (non-financial) goals for 2017
e currently have two technologies that we’re considering for spin-off. In the second half of this year, and early next year, I want to have these opportunities fully vetted, and funded if we deem them viable.
We’re also pursuing a comprehensive certification strategy with one of our key customers in the space segment. If selected, this program will revolutionize the way we, as an industry, design and manufacture launch vehicles.
Why did you become an entrepreneur
I’ve always known I would run my own business. In college, I started a 503c to help raise money for Diabetes research, and to teach myself about business. As an engineer by training and trade, I knew I wanted to exploit this experience in whatever business I chose to pursue.
Originally, Brian and I explored renewable energy as a potential business, generating power by recovering methane from animal waste. The technology is viable, but it was too far away from our experience base as design engineers for launch vehicles.
We spent two years exploring technologies related to aerospace before selecting Additive Manufacturing. It’s such a potentially disruptive technology, but closely related to our experience. We knew we could contribute in a meaningful way.
What motivates you as an entrepreneur
As an engineer, I have always enjoyed creating things that didn’t exist before. I think the same thing motivates me as an entrepreneur. To create an organization from the ground up is very satisfying. To be able to recognize and meet a real demand in the market is a necessary part of making that a reality.
What skills and attributes do you think are necessary to be a successful entrepreneur?
Vision – long view. Not ignoring short term data, but putting into a long term perspective…helps maintain focus.
Communication – Getting others to buy into your vision
Listening – Recognizing that other perspectives have value, and incorporating expert advice into your existing strategy, or pivoting to account for new information.
Why should you be included in our 35 Under 35 project
Our company is unique in the entrepenuerial space. We combine high technology with industrialized process. A lot of the work in software doesn’t directly impact real things; the technology is the product.
Our process is focused on end-use parts for aerospace, space, and medical customers. We help our customers exploit the technology to make those parts better. The technology is an enabler, not the end product.