Frederick, Colorado

After four decades, Frontier Metal Stamping continues to commit to its mission: to continuously improve products to better satisfy customer needs and deliver them on time, free of defects, every time.

Every successful manufacturer needs a reliable source for parts. To keep the production line rolling, parts need to be delivered on time, and they need to be manufacturable, designed to fit into production in a way that promotes efficiency and product performance. Frontier Metal Stamping fills that role, developing and producing quality parts that help customers manufacture better products.

Metal stamping services have been around since people started stamping coins for currency. What has changed is the sophistication of the design process and the tools used to create precision dies to make parts. After 40 years in the business, the O’Donnell family understands metal stamping and, more importantly, how to work with customers to deliver quality parts when they need them.

Frontier Metal Stamping was started in 1984 by Jerry O’Donnell, drawing from a long history in tool and die work. When his son, Steve, graduated from the University of Denver, the two of them started Frontier, and Steve’s brother, Mike, came on board a few years later. Steve oversees operations today, and Mike leads engineering.

Frontier has built a loyal customer base by delivering superior customer service. They work closely with customers to understand their needs and deliver manufacturable, cost-effective parts.

Building a Reputation for Reliability

Over the years, Frontier has built a loyal customer base and a reputation for stamping and delivering quality parts. Most of their business is from regional manufacturers along the front range, although many customers ship parts to factories in other states and Mexico. The O’Donnells estimate that about 40% of their business is out of state. In recent years, the company has expanded its market reach, focusing on various vertical markets such as electronics and Defense contracts.

“Prospects don’t often know what they really need,” said Jonathan Hall, head of business development. “They don’t develop a relationship with us until they are designing and figuring out how to build high-volume parts. That’s when we get involved. One of the things we bring to the table is design for manufacturability reviews. When we sit down and roll up our sleeves, customers really start feeling the benefits of those complementary reviews.”

Frontier specializes in high-volume parts production. Inventors and those seeking a small number of parts for prototypes are not targeted by Frontier. They also avoid production contracts that require extensive paperwork and overhead hours. Many of their customers are looking for 5,000 to 10,000 parts at the low end, and they have customers who need 100,000 or more pieces per month as well.

“Our relationship with Frontier Metal Stamping highlights one of the essential benefits of local supply chain, and that’s velocity,” said Paul Harter, then CEO of Aqua-Hot Heating Systems, one of Frontier’s long-time customers. “Whether it’s inventory turns, the response time on prototypes, response time when we screw up our scheduling, they’re there with that immediate diving catch.”

Designing for Manufacturability

Frontier’s ability to design for manufacturability differentiates them from other stamping businesses. They can work from a photograph or schematic, although they prefer electronic files to load into their SolidWorks CAD/CAM design software and work with customers to develop parts that are ideally suited for the production line. Unlike many tool and die companies, Frontier also maintains its own dedicated tool room where the engineering team builds custom dies.  

Frontier often works with customers to help them get into production using metal-stamped parts, creating prototype parts to help set up production. They work with customers’ assembly experts to design parts that work well in assembly, whether that means cutting tools for new part designs or replicating existing parts. For example, some defense contracts require parts that have not changed in 50 years, and Frontier must produce them to exact specifications. 

“When you get to volume production, you better be designed for metal stamping and spitting out lots of parts,” said Mike O’Donnell. “We made 34 million parts one year for a customer and 16 million of another part for that same customer. We helped them design them and get to where we can manufacture and spool up to meet their demands. But they also ask us what we can do to help production and help them with their business.”

Training the Next Generation

Frontier Metal Stamping also attracts loyal employees. Most of the current workers have been with the company for nearly 30 years. That is the advantage of being a family-owned business; they tend to retain employees since everyone feels they have a personal stake in the company’s success. Still, the company needs to bring in new people, and finding skilled workers has been more difficult over the last few years.

To help address the staffing problem, Frontier has a state-sanctioned apprenticeship program. Students from high schools and community colleges in the area are recruited to learn more about manufacturing and see that it is a more sophisticated trade. Nowadays, it’s less about working with greasy machines and more about learning to use computers for fabrication.

Although the basics of metal stamping haven’t changed for 50 years, innovations keep companies like Frontier Metal Stamping competitive. There are new automation techniques to make production more efficient to increase output and new techniques for designing and prototyping parts. However, you can’t discount experience, which Frontier has in abundance.

“Many design engineers don’t understand fabrication,” said Hall. “I have been in countless meetings where a customer is looking to Mike to build something and how to form it, bending metal to the same perfect shape every time you do it. It’s not trivial.”

Companies that don’t have experience with metal stamping for parts production come to Frontier Metal Stamping for their expertise and the quality of the parts they produce. Access to quality, manufacturable stamped parts in volume is what helps make Frontier’s customers successful.