Van-Am Tool & Engineering Announces New Van-Am Defense Systems

Van-Am Tool & Engineering Acquires the Fabrication Division of GMT 

Van-Am Tool & Engineering, LLC announces new Van-Am Defense Systems, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Van-Am Tool & Engineering, LLC. 


St. Joseph, Missouri. On December 29th, 2023, Van-Am Tool & Engineering, a metal machining and fabricator, acquired the Fabrication Division of GMT Manufacturing in Waverly, Iowa. The move to acquire additional fabrication and machining capacity and capability was driven by increased production demand and large format fabrication and machining. This acquisition will add 75,000 sq ft of manufacturing space, and is focused on large, heavy fabrications for the defense and industrial sectors.   

“We are excited to add to the Vam-Am portfolio of companies,” said CEO, Keith Mills. “This acquisition allows us to add capacity, support larger products and broadens our customer base.” 

The acquisition of Van-Am Defense Systems, formerly known as the Fabrication Division of GMT Manufacturing , fits into Van-Am Tool & Engineering’s strategy to provide vertically integrated manufacturing services to a diverse customer market.  

Established in 1981, Van-Am has become a leading provider of high quality tooling, stamping, machining and fabrication services to a variety of industries and customers throughout the Midwest. The company also provides laser cutting, press braking, robotic welding, powder coat and wet paint solutions, and offers design and build services for projects of all sizes and complexities.  

Media Contact: 

Paula Anderson 

Marketing Executive 


How does powder coating work?

Powder coating is a type of finishing process used to coat a variety of metal surfaces. We recently added this to one of our many capabilities here at Van-Am. It is a popular, durable, and cost-effective method that provides a uniform, attractive finish. If you’re curious about how this process works, then you’ve come to the right place. In this blog post, we’ll explain the basics of powder coating and how it can benefit your projects.

Powder coating is a type of painting

Painting is a common method for protecting and decorating a wide range of materials. Generally, this involves applying a liquid coating to the surface of the material. However, there are other ways to paint, including powder coating. Powder coating is an electrostatic process that applies a dry paint powder to a surface. This provides a durable and long-lasting finish that can protect materials from damage and corrosion.

Powder coating is done using an electrostatic process

The electrostatic process is a method of applying a coating to a surface using an electric charge. This charge causes the powder particles to be attracted to the surface, providing an even and consistent coating.

The neat thing about the electrostatic process is that it is fast and efficient. It eliminates the need for spray guns and other painting equipment which can be messy and time consuming. The electrostatic process also allows for a more precise application of the powder coating. This helps ensure that there are no clumps or unevenness in the finish, resulting in a high quality, long lasting product.

Powder coating provides a durable and long-lasting finish

Powder coating is an incredibly durable and long-lasting form of paint application, making it an ideal choice for industrial applications or for anyone looking to protect their possessions for many years to come. Unlike traditional paint, powder coating does not contain solvents that can evaporate over time, leaving the coating thin and vulnerable to wear and tear. The powder also creates a much thicker coating than liquid paint, providing a strong protective layer that can last for decades. Additionally, powder coatings are highly resistant to extreme temperatures, ultraviolet light, and salt, ensuring that the coating won’t be damaged by exposure to the elements. This makes it an ideal choice for outdoor applications, such as metal patio furniture or metal siding on a home. With proper care and maintenance, powder coatings can provide a beautiful and lasting finish to any metal surface.

Powder coating is available in a variety of colors

From classic black and whites, to more complex shades of reds, blues, greens, yellows, oranges, browns, purples, and even metallics. There are thousands of different powder coating color options available, allowing you to find the perfect one to match your desired look. By using different color combinations, you can create unique and beautiful designs that will stand out.

Powder coating also offers specialty finishes such as texture, marble, or sparkle that can add depth and dimension to your surface. This type of finish is particularly popular on furniture or other items with complex shapes and curves. Whether you’re looking for a classic look or something unique and eye-catching, powder coating has you covered.

Discover the Amazing Power of Five-Axis Lasers

Five-axis lasers are the latest technological advancement in laser cutting, and they are revolutionizing the way things are made. With their advanced capabilities, five-axis lasers can cut more complex shapes, faster and more accurately than ever before. In this blog post, we will explore the amazing power of five-axis lasers and discover how they can make production easier and more efficient. Read on to learn more about the incredible capabilities of five-axis lasers!

What is a five-axis laser?

A five-axis laser is an advanced cutting machine that uses lasers to cut, engrave, and mark a variety of materials. This type of laser cutter is capable of performing 3D machining operations and can work on large workpieces. It is one of the most advanced and efficient laser machines available today, as it can handle a wide variety of materials, from metal to plastic and wood.

A five-axis laser consists of a cutting head, a control system, and an associated software package. The cutting head contains the laser source, optics, and beam delivery system, while the control system is responsible for the movement of the cutting head. The software allows the user to create and store programs for cutting tasks. The laser source generates light which is then focused into a narrow beam. This beam is directed through the optics and onto the workpiece. The resulting beam is so precise that it can create very intricate patterns and shapes on the material. This makes it ideal for high-precision cutting operations. Additionally, the five-axis laser has an advantage over traditional machines in that it can process both large and small objects with equal accuracy.

What can five-axis lasers do?

Five-axis lasers are incredibly powerful and capable machines. They can do a variety of tasks including cutting, engraving, drilling, welding, and marking. These lasers are much more precise than other tools such as CNC mills or plasma cutters, allowing them to work on very fine details with accuracy. Additionally, five-axis lasers have the ability to manipulate materials in three dimensions which gives them the capability to create complex parts and shapes.

These lasers are also highly efficient, able to quickly cut through thick metals and other materials with ease. This makes them ideal for industries that require fast production times, such as the automotive industry. With the right setup, these machines can even be automated to save time and resources.

When compared to other machines, five-axis lasers provide superior accuracy and speed, making them the perfect choice for projects requiring precision and quick turnaround times. Moreover, these lasers are safer than other machines as they are less likely to cause dangerous sparks when used. This makes them ideal for working with flammable materials or in areas with high safety risks.

How does a five-axis laser work?

A five-axis laser works by combining two or more axes of motion together to create a single laser beam. This enables it to move in multiple directions and provide greater flexibility than a traditional three-axis machine. The most common type of five-axis laser is the three-dimensional (3D) laser, which has five axes of motion: x-axis, y-axis, z-axis, theta axis, and phi axis.

The x-axis is responsible for moving the laser beam along the horizontal plane, while the y-axis moves the beam along the vertical plane. The z-axis moves the laser up and down in the vertical direction. The theta axis rotates the beam along its own axis, while the phi axis causes it to rotate around an external axis. By controlling these axes, users can create complex shapes that would not be possible with a standard three-axis laser.

Using a five-axis laser is relatively simple. First, a user will need to select the desired shape they want to cut out and load the file into the machine. Then, they will need to set the parameters of the five axes and how they will interact with each other. Finally, they can hit start and watch as the laser starts to cut the shape out of their material. With a five-axis laser, intricate shapes and details can be created quickly and with precision.

What are the benefits of using a five-axis laser?

The five-axis laser offers a range of advantages that make it an attractive choice for industrial applications. For starters, the five-axis laser allows for greater precision and accuracy in cutting, welding, and engraving. The use of multiple axes increases the possibilities for the types of shapes and cuts achievable with a single machine. Additionally, the five-axis laser is able to produce components that are up to three times faster than those created with traditional cutting or welding processes. The five-axis laser can also be used to create intricate components that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to make with traditional methods. The five-axis laser also offers greater flexibility and scalability, as it can be easily integrated into existing production lines and automated processes. Finally, the five-axis laser is relatively low maintenance, making it a cost-effective solution for industrial applications.

The Van-Am Journey

Ivan and the Van-Am story

After running St. Joseph, Missouri-based Van-Am Tool & Engineering for nearly 30 years, owner Ivan Russell slowly began handing off the daily responsibilities of running the business to his management team. At the beginning of 2012, market conditions for business sales were positive, and with the upcoming presidential election and the threat of changes in government fiscal policy, Russell knew that he could take advantage of potential tax savings if he sold Van-Am before 2013. For these reasons, Russell decided it was time to sell his business and retire.

Prior to Russell’s decision, Van-Am’s management team had identified several growth opportunities for the company and Russell hoped to find a buyer that possessed the leadership and financial resources needed to help the company expand its geographic reach outside of Kansas and Missouri. In addition, Russell wanted to ensure that the new owners would retain all of the company’s 55 employees.


Through extensive research, Allied Business Group developed a comprehensive list of 1,200 prospective strategic buyers and 4,500 initial contacts at private equity firms across the U.S. They then developed a confidential Offering Memorandum, summary prospectus, and marketing video that presented Van-Am in the most beneficial manner and highlighted the company’s growth potential and past performance. These materials were dispersed through a confidential marketing process that attracted more than 120 interested parties. The high level of interest produced a competitive bidding environment with eight buyer candidates submitting bids for the company. Eventually, Allied completed the sale of Van-Am to a private investment group comprised of Silver Sail Capital and 3P Equity Partners.


Van-Am sold to Silver Sail and 3P on December 6, 2012. The investment group, which decided to retain all of the company’s employees, immediately began planning how best to utilize its resources to pursue growth opportunities and expand the company. Russell, who received a significant premium over Van-Am’s appraised value, was able to retire immediately.

About Van-Am Tool & Engineering

Established in 1981, Van-Am has become a leading provider of high-quality tooling, stamping, machining, and manufacturing services to a variety of industries and customers throughout the Midwest. The company also provides laser cutting, press braking, and robotic welding services, and offers design and build services for projects of all sizes and complexities.

About 3P Equity Partners

Based in San Francisco, California, 3P invests in middle-market companies to help maximize value and drive growth. The firm works with management teams to structure operational improvements and strategic initiatives that help ensure long-term success of its portfolio companies.

About Silver Sail Capital

Silver Sail, based in Los Angeles, California, invests in middle-market companies in North America and is supported by a strategic advisory board of individuals with significant experience in capital markets. The firm partners with management teams to provide operational and financial support to aid in long-term growth.