group tour of plant

NM’s Theta Plate Gets Visit from Under Secretary of Commerce

Dr. Laurie Locascio, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director, visited New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) client Theta Plate in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Theta Plate, a third-generation family-owned metal-plating business started in 1976, performs military standard and decorative electroplating of metals ranging from platinum to tin. The company is active in several niche markets, including jewelry and trumpet mouthpieces.

Laurie LocascioLaurie LocascioSeveral years ago, Theta Plate co-owner Aaron Velasquez saw an opportunity in working more with nearby Sandia National Laboratories. Theta Plate was already an approved vendor, but Sandia categorizes vendors into tiers based on capability and quality control – and there was room for Theta Plate to grow their capabilities.

Velasquez turned to New Mexico MEP, part of the MEP National Network, to help him and his team of eight employees forge a path toward registration with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and achieve a higher vendor tier at the national laboratory.

New Mexico MEP Innovation Director Jeff Abrams helped the team analyze processes and make changes that standardized and streamlined their procedures to meet ISO regulations.

“He’s experienced in ISO auditing, and he knows it inside and out,” says Velasquez.

That knowledge and experience helped Theta Plate build a system that incorporates existing procedures, meets ISO standards, and does not require additional staffing. 

theta3With New Mexico MEP assistance, Theta Plate achieved ISO 9001:2015 registration in early 2022, and Sandia National Laboratories approved Theta Plate as a tier three vendor, enabling it to work on nuclear-related jobs at all U.S. national labs. In addition, while working toward ISO registration, Theta Plate developed new proprietary processes to plate precious metals on strategic material substrates for the aerospace and defense industries.

“We are proud to host Dr. Laurie Locascio on her visit to Albuquerque and show her firsthand the kinds of impacts that the New Mexico MEP has with our small and medium-sized manufacturing clients,” says New Mexico MEP CEO Jennifer Sinsabaugh. “Our assistance is helping Theta Plate grow and expand its service offerings while meeting extremely high quality expectations. The company is focusing on growth and diversification, and we are helping them meet their goals while assuring quality and security.”

The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The MEP National Network is a unique public-private partnership that delivers comprehensive, proven solutions to U.S. manufacturers, fueling growth and advancing U.S. manufacturing. The MEP National Network comprises the program office (NIST MEP), the 51 MEP Centers located in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, the MEP Advisory Board, MEP Center boards, and the Foundation for Manufacturing Excellence, as well as over 1,440 trusted advisors and experts at approximately 460 MEP service locations, providing any U.S. manufacturer with access to resources they need to succeed.