BELEN — After three decades and three generations, Sisneros Bros. Manufacturing in Belen is going strong and looking to the future.

The metal fabrication company was started 33 years ago by Abenicio Sisneros and his three sons, Martin, Alex and Philip.

Initially, the company installed ductwork in residential construction but now manufactures strictly for large, commercial projects, making prefabricated ductwork that is safe for pharmaceutical and food-grade plants, as well as high-tech clean rooms.

Last month, Sisneros Bros. was recognized as a Star Client of the New Mexico Small Business Development Center Network at a ceremony in Santa Fe.

Fernando Sisneros, one of the Sisneros cousins poised to take the reins of the company, said they were honored by the recognition.

“We’ve had a good relationship through the years with Wayne (Abraham, SBDC director at The University of New Mexico-Valencia campus) and Chris (Garcia, SBDC UNM-Valencia business advisor),” Fernando said. “They helped us put together a business plan several years ago to get SBA 8(a) status.”

The Small Business Association 8(a) Business Development Program is a business assistance program for small disadvantaged businesses, which offers a broad scope of assistance to firms that are owned and controlled at least 51 percent by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.

SBDC at UNM-Valencia assisted Sisneros Bros. in drafting a business plan to receive the 8(a) designation.

More recently, SBDC partnered with UNM-Valencia to bring the New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership lean manufacturing certification program to the campus. The program helps companies streamline their manufacturing processes, and lean certification is a credential designed by industry for industry.

“We’ve spent a lot of the last two years focusing on that, the lean manufacturing,” Fernando said. “We’ve made a lot of changes setting things up for the future. At some point, maybe five to 10 years down the road, the brothers will turn over the business to the next generation.”

Martin Sisneros, one of the three brothers who helped his father launch the company with a bankroll of less than $2,500, a second hand pick-up truck, a 4-foot hand break and a portable 24-gauge Lockformer Pittsburgh lock machine, said the results of the lean manufacturing program at Sisneros Bros., which employes 32 people, has resulted in more efficient operations.

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Cousins Salvador and Fernando Sisneros with the laser cutting unit at Sisneros Bros. Manufacturing. The unit is just one of the changes at the company that has streamlined its processes.

“The biggest change has been in our equipment. We have been talking about going from a plasma cutter to a laser cutter for 10 years now. That’s made a big difference. We’ve streamlined our process from receiving to shipping and made it a better process,” Martin said. “We have a core group that meets weekly to discuss what’s working and what can be improved.”

Salvador Sisneros, Fernando’s younger cousin, said not only has the laser cutter increased the company’s efficiency and volume, but it’s also increased product quality by 40 percent.

Streamlining the manufacturing process meant eliminating some of the process, Fernando said.

“While a lot of times that might mean eliminating jobs, we’ve been able to move employees up into more skilled positions,” he said. “As we go forward, things change. We’re the third generation but even within this generation, there are still differences.

“I’m saying, ‘well this is how Dad did it,’ but Sal, who’s younger than me, is saying there’s a better way to do it.”

To make the manufacturing process more streamlined, the 45,000- square foot facility has been reorganized to create a smooth, efficient work flow from receiving raw materials to shipping out finished products.

Part of the lean manufacturing had the company measure how far their products moved, from start to finish. Fernando said they found the old process took an item seven miles, moving from station to station before being shipped.

“We need to re-measure now but it’s much less,” he said.

The laser cutter, which was installed last year, has cut production time drastically. While the plasma cutter would take nearly 20 minutes, the laser unit can knock out a job in seven.

Since the company began in 1985, Martin said there have been tremendous changes in the economy, both locally and internationally.

“Eighty-five percent of our sales are out of state, so we are bringing those dollars to New Mexico,” he said. “We are talking to people in a world market. Who knows where it will go. It doesn’t get more exciting than that.”

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