Membership Connection-METRO/VICO Mfg. Inc. (Answering the call for bids)
Walking through the buildings at VICO Mfg. Inc. is like taking a tour of manufacturing history nestled along Michigan street in South Houston. You can see the pride beaming from President and General Manager Frank Vasquez as he gave our President, Frances Castañeda Dyess, a lesson about this family-owned business and how far they’ve evolved since being founded in 1984.
Standing in front of the company’s state-of-the-equipment, Vasquez described how it will catapult them into the future as they begin work building 400 bus stop shelters per year thanks to a bid they applied for and garnered with the assistance of Alexander Sandoval from METRO. “Metro’s contract is a HUGE opportunity to VICO!” Vasquez said. “This contract is the biggest contract VICO has ever been awarded since 1984. Metro’s contract came at a perfect time because VICO was facing many hardships due to the pandemic.”
With 20 years of experience and certification as a Tool and Die Maker, Frank’s father-in-law, the Patriarch and founder of VICO, Jesus Villarreal, decided to pursue his dream of providing affordable metal stamping services a reality. From the company’s humble beginnings in Villarreal’s garage to being awarded a 2-year contract with an optional 3-year extension totaling $21,500,000 from METRO, VICO is the Cinderella story of never giving up despite the odds.
The East End Chamber of Commerce has been instrumental in creating countless member connections between small business owners and large corporations that bring a new level of success. Sandoval met Frank and his family at a Port Houston Appreciation Day Luncheon. "Having our first contract with METRO advances VICO to the next level," said Jesus' son and Frank's brother-in-law, Jose Villarreal. According to Jose, the contract will help them financially and bring more growth as it opens many more doors for bigger and better projects down the road.
Some of the benefits of acquiring a bid like this include a new income stream and a new division to expand into the government sector with other local, state, and federal government opportunities, Jose said. The Chamber prides itself in assisting its members to promote economic expansion and investment in the East End. “VICO’s METRO contract has open our eyes to create a balance between commercial and public work,” Jesus Villarreal said. “My hope is that we continue to expand work and continue to support marketing efforts with the East End Chamber of Commerce.”
As we toured the facilities of a second-generation business with Vasquez walking alongside his father-in-law and brother-in-law, it was clear they are already setting in motion plans for the 3rd generation to take over one day. Frank and Jose run the day-to-day operations, and their daughters Anaida and Isabel, respectively, stand on their shoulders, ready to take over the legacy built by their grandfather.
VICO offers many services from CNC Machining, Metal Fabrication, Tool & Die Design, and Metal Stamping. Over the years, the company has grown to an impressive 8,000 square foot facility with top-of-the-line equipment. “In 1996, my son and son-in-law encouraged me to get our 1st CNC machine," Jesus said. "When we bought our 1st machine, it put VICO on the map." They currently have 25 employees, with many having been with them for 10-plus years.
The METRO contract is going to provide stability, expand VICO’s manufacturing capabilities, and provide an opportunity for long-term growth, according to Vasquez. But all this wouldn’t be possible without taking a chance. “Don’t be afraid to step up to the plate,” Jose said.” It can be intimidating at first, but when you meet the right people in the larger corporations like Alexander Sandoval of METRO, they are more than willing to help you succeed rather than not.”
METRO provides guidance, monthly workshops, and one-on-one meetings to help position future firms to develop access to opportunities, Jose said. Here at the Chamber, we are excited to partner with such corporations that encourage small businesses to apply for bids that can create life-changing opportunities they may not have had otherwise. If you would like to learn more about companies in the East End that can help meet your business needs, visit our website here.
To see more photos of our tour with VICO Mfg. Inc., visit our Facebook page here.