No one knows that life is often a roll of the dice more than Vegas Metal Finishing owner Jessica Famiglietti Young.
“I never expected to be running a finishing operation,” Young says. “I kind of got thrust into this position, but it’s something I’ve come to understand, and I enjoy all that we are doing.”
To say the last three years have been a rollercoaster for Young would be quite an understatement. Before 2019, she was a successful real estate agent in Las Vegas and owned a local armory that manufactured and sold firearms.
Today, she owns an anodizing facility in North Las Vegas that offers Type II and Type III finishes for a wide variety of customers but also serves as the in-house line for her New Frontier Armory company. The shop opened in 2020 with new equipment and a fully closed-loop recycling system that reuses all of their rinse waters through a DI water treatment system feeding back into their tanks.
Deciding to Swim Rather than Sink
What has happened in the past several years has been something that Young never anticipated would occur, which included losing the love of her life and the father to her two young children, starting a new finishing operation that had been in the works, and finding love again as she works day and night to keep her businesses running and growing.
“It helps to have a good nanny,” Young says. “But I truly had no choice in what has happened to me since 2019. Then it was sink or swim for my family and me. I decided to swim.”
Young was married to Dave Famiglietti, who started New Frontier Armory in 2009 as a full-service firearm and class III weapons dealer, distributor, and manufacturer. They operated a 6,000+ square foot retail outlet as well as an off-site wholesale distribution center and CNC manufacturing plant where they made many of their own firearms and related products.
Famiglietti was a decorated military veteran and New Frontier Armory so much that he decided to stop sending work out to be anodized and finished and instead began the process of starting Vegas Metal Finishing to do their finishes as well as for other manufacturers in the Las Vegas area.
An Unexpected Turn
Famiglietti had just started the process of ordering parts and building out the facility when he started feeling tired and weak around January 2019. A month later, in February, his doctors told him he had stage four melanoma.
As shocking as the diagnosis was to Famiglietti and his wife, things took a massive turn for the worst when he passed away just one month later.
While Young was in disbelief at her husband’s quick passing, she was also confronted with the realities of now running New Frontier Armory and Vegas Metal Finishing, which hadn’t fully developed at the time of Dave’s passing.
“They only had a concrete berm poured around the facility for containment,” Young recalls. “Everything else was in boxes and crates and just sitting around.”
It was at her husband’s funeral services that Young met for the first time Kent Willis, whom Dave had been working with on ordering equipment and getting technical advice on setting up an anodizing facility.
Willis agreed to help Young set up the facility, although things were scattered around the shop and nothing was where it should have been.
“There were no tanks anywhere, but we did have a chiller in one corner and a boiler sitting in another,” Young says. “It looked like a warehouse with components just sitting around everywhere. Dave died before he could really get anything organized.”
Getting the Shop Up and Running
Vegas Metal Finishing also relied on the assistance of Ronatec in California to help them with getting things organized and delivering the equipment they needed to complete the shop. All of this was going on while Young dealt with her own grief of losing her husband and taking care of her two small children, as well as keeping New Frontier Armory up and running.
Still, she knew the anodizing operation was something that Dave had in the plans to grow the armory, and she also knew how much work he had put into the planning and design of it.
“I had no idea of what anything was or how they were supposed to operate, but I knew that the purpose was to get this line up and running,” Young says. “There were times I thought maybe just scratch this whole thing off my list and go run New Frontier, but that’s not how I work. I knew I had to figure this out somehow.”
Between Young, Willis, and Ronatec, the shop was able to start running parts by May 2020, a remarkable achievement for someone who previously had no idea what the anodizing process entailed nor the chemistry background that was needed to run operations.
On top of all of this was the global COVID-19 pandemic that was occurring, making opening a new business a tough chore to find skilled labor to help run the operation.
But Young had found an ally in a friend of her husband’s, Mike Young, a military veteran who was getting ready to retire from the service and was looking for employment opportunities once he left the military at the end of 2022.
Not only did he come to work at Vegas Metal Finishing as part of an official internship program sponsored by the military to help veterans transition to the private sector, but they also became very close to each other and eventually married in 2021.
Becoming Immersed in the Anodizing Business
“I did a lot of training with firearms but never thought I would be on the other side of the spectrum when I get out,” he says. “Until I met Jessica — and even after we married — I never thought these businesses would be something I would be so immersed in.”
Mike has been a quick learner in the art and science of anodizing and metal finishing and just recently completed intensive training at Chemeon Surface Technology’s Nevada headquarters on proper anodizing techniques and practices.
“Jessica and I are very like-minded in that we enjoy a problem set, and we are both solution-oriented,” Mike says. “I have really enjoyed taking this on and learning as much as possible. This is an interesting business, and you never know what each day will present to you to solve. It’s actually been a fun challenge this far.”
Through all of the last three years, Jessica says she has grown to have more respect for the finishing process than she initially had when New Frontier Armory would send work out to be finished. Doing the process herself — and seeing what variables needed to be overcome to deliver a quality finish — has opened her eyes to the difficulties of the anodizing process.
“We see a lot of customers who come in and just want us to throw the parts in the tank,” Jessica says. “But when you see first-hand that it is an extensive process — and knowing the density of the material and the type of metal you are finishing — then you realize that each run is unique.”
Training Proves Instantly Valuable
“When we got back from the training, we were immediately able to cut our run times down,” he says. “We are more efficient just off the things we learned in two days. We also learned that we have to continue to invest in self-improvement and getting better at everything we do.”
The Chemeon training was so impactful that Jessica says she is signing up for the two-day course taught by Dr. Sjon Westre, Chemeon’s Senior Vice President of Technology.
“One thing I heard when we started the anodizing line was the hardest part of the job is to produce high-quality parts consistently, and that is what we are striving for,” Jessica says. “We have figured that part out, and I’m happy that our team is so good at cranking out good parts.”
The next phase is growing Vegas Metal Finishing and fulfilling her late husband’s prophecy that adding an anodizing business was a good strategy. Jessica says as she grows into the business, she is starting to see more of what Dave’s vision was from the beginning.
“I’m not going to say I totally saw what he was trying to do when he talked about starting Vegas Metal Finishing a few years back, but it has become more clear where he saw where this was headed,” she says. “It’s like he has left me these little crumbs along the way to show me what he had in mind, and it is all coming together.”