VSS, Valley Steel Stamp in Greenfield, plans major manufacturing expansion

July 11, 2018 :, by Jim Kinney

GREENFIELD - The excitement at Greenfield manufacturer VSS is not necessarily for the new 17,500-square-foot building the company has under construction.

It's the $10 million to $12 million in equipment and 40 or so new employees company President Steven Capshaw plans to put in that building. The former Valley Steel Stamp has 60 employees now, up from 23 when the company moved into its current Greenfield Industrial Park location 10 years ago, Capshaw said.

"We've just grown for a long time so we need more space," Capshaw said. "And we anticipate more growth. The 20-year forecast for aerospace is off the charts."

Aircraft innovators Pratt & Whitney and General Electric both have new state-of-the-art fuel-saving jet engines. And neither has enough capacity to make all the parts in-house.

"So everyone is gearing up for this," he said.

On Tuesday, MassDevelopment announced that it has issued a $1.9 million bond for CJBW Stamp LLC, the real estate arm of VSS. The money will go toward financing the new building. Its total cost will be just more than $2 million, Capshaw said.

The project is expected to create nine jobs in the near term and support 13 construction jobs, said MassDevelopment in a news release. GSB Securities Corp., an affiliate of Greenfield Savings Bank, purchased the bond.

Capshaw said the financing is an industrial revenue bond that allows the lender, Greenfield Savings Bank, to collect interest on the loan tax-free and provide him with a lower interest rate.

He said he would have financed the project anyway, without MassDevelopment's help, but the better rate means he'll be able to buy more equipment more quickly and grow faster.

MassDevelopment previously issued bonds to support the purchase and expansion of VSS in 2008 and 2012.

VSS has three main market segments: steel marking tools for industry that are used by machine shops and the like, commercial production machining and aerospace.

Commercial production work includes products like cylinders for revolvers and receivers and bolts for bolt-action firearms. Customers include Westfield's Savage Arms and, in Connecticut, Sturm Ruger & Co. and Mossberg.

For aircraft, VSS makes nose landing gear and carbon-on-composite structural guide vanes for turbofan engines.

Capshaw said Tuesday that the foundation is already in place for the new building, near the company's current location at 15 Greenfield St. He hopes construction will begin in July and August and that the company could start moving in during October or November.

Hiring new workers is always a challenge, Capshaw said. He's supported the renewal of the manufacturing technology program at Franklin County Technical School in nearby Turners Falls with new equipment. The school now offers after-hours classes for older students interested in advanced technology and precision manufacturing.

But that's not enough to meet the industry's demand for new workers.

"We have our own training programs here," he said.

VSS hires people with no skills at $16 to $20 an hour, Capshaw said. With training over one or two years, their pay grows to $30 an hour.

"You can come in here with a work ethic and earn $70,000 a year -- counting overtime -- along with fully paid medical and 401(k) with a 100 percent match," he said.

Capshaw's father, William, founded Valley Steel Stamp in 1971 as a two-man operation that produced custom steel marking stamps. The company has moved in Greenfield a few times.

MassDevelopment is the state's finance and development agency. In its most recent fiscal year, MassDevelopment said it financed or managed 377 projects generating investment of more than $4.3 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are expected to create about 9,488 jobs and build or rehabilitate 1,863 residential units, according to the news release.

"For more than 40 years, Valley Steel Stamp has been a key part of the western Massachusetts tradition of high-quality precision machining, and this company has grown to become a major player in the sector," said MassDevelopment President and CEO Lauren Liss in a statement. "MassDevelopment is pleased to support Valley Steel Stamp as it once again takes steps to further expand operations here in the Commonwealth."