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Small Company, Big Results
Welch Mechanical Designs

October 2012

One of a kind. When we’re talking Welch Mechanical Designs in Belcamp, that could mean what the company does, the man who founded it, or the motley crew Wayne Welch hand-picked and molded into a multi-disciplinary, highly-experienced engineering and manufacturing team dedicated to producing perfection.

Crew members (from left) Marco Lourenco, Wayne Welch, Bryan Shank, Ralph Coyle, Chris Nonack, Dave Custer and Adam Kosmer.

Welch Mechanical Designs occupies two units in a non-descript strip mall style office complex at 1371 Brass Mill Road. Don’t look for a sign. There isn’t one. When you figure out which door to go into, don’t look for a receptionist. There isn’t one.

But do look around. WMD is a place where a lot of thinking is going on. White boards filled with designs and formulae. Desks with sturdy, portable, extremely powerful computers WMD’s machinists custom-built. One mechanical engineer’s workspace resembles starship command, a standing area with three widescreen monitors and, behind this, a desk with two more.

WMD designs, builds and integrates one-of-a-kind, highly technical, microscopically precise parts and systems. The small business specializes in optical systems, primarily those using single-point diamond turning. WMD also excels in electronic packaging, offering turnkey services to integrate specialized instruments with existing manned and unmanned aircraft.

“We try to give our clients high-end, spacescraft-grade equipment for the research-type budgets they’ve got,” Welch says. “We come up with cool technologies for companies that are used to having stuff cobbled together and thrown at them.”

And WMD does it for less.

“We’re relatively inexpensive. Because we are small, we respond faster and produce for a lower cost. We have delivered a finished product before a customer’s in-house shop submitted a quote, a quote that was for five times more money than we charged. Why? Because they would need to make the product three times to get it right. We make things right the first time. We look at a customer’s starting specs and offer them better solutions or ways to accomplish or exceed what they need for less,” Welch says.

WMD is the go-to company for our nation’s research labs, including the Naval and Army research labs, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and NASA Langley Research Center, and for researchers in Norway and India.
Don’t ask for a complete client list. He won’t give it to you. And don’t expect to join that mysterious client list just because you want WMD to take a turn at a demanding project.

“We are selective and have turned down clients. We don’t do secure work, and we require our customers to be good communicators,” Welch says.
Doing things his own way helped Welch assemble a team that works well together. He has employees who work remotely from other states, and even hired a CAD designer he gamed for with more than a year over the Internet.

“My human resources consultant balked and I told her, ‘If someone is a jerk, he’ll be 10 times worse online,’” Welch says.

He also employs mechanical engineers right out of college. He likes giving young people opportunities, like he was given.

In the early 1990s, Welch parlayed a high school summer internship at NASA Goddard into a college job with a NASA contractor, which became full-time his senior year in college. In May 2001, he launched his own company, Welch Mechanical Designs, LLC.

David Custer (yes, he is a direct descendent) has worked for Welch for almost three years. Coming from vineyard maintenance, Custer is a prime example of Welch’s penchant for incorporating seemingly disparate skills into his motley crew.

“We do cutting edge work here. Every day it’s something different,” Custer says, noting he does everything but the engineering and machining. “Wayne’s a true entrepreneur. The young guys are learning to think outside the box and that’s a valuable tool.” I95