Site Visit: EME Inc. in “Hub City,” California
By Marina DeWit, Region 9 Advocate
The city of Compton is one of the oldest cities in Los Angeles County. There are less than ninety-seven thousand residents that make up a relatively young population with an average age of 25 years. Known as the “Hub City,” Compton made the national list for places to start and grow a business, which was a perfect fit for EME Inc.
EME Inc. is a family-owned business established in 1962 that offers a wide range of services that include non-destructive testing, metal finishing, masking and painting. It is a recognized leader in the Aerospace Metal Finishing Industry that provides high-quality finishing services to the aerospace, military and commercial industries. While providing a tour of the factory, Wesley Turnbow, CEO, proudly explained every process of the factory’s functions. He showed me where the original building stood when his father acquired the property and how each new work room was added on. The story behind the growth of the facility and the people who work there, live in the neighborhood and depend on the success of this business was inspiring. Everyone we met was proud to be a part of the EME team and valued for their talent and expertise.
As we discussed many issues that are affecting the success of this small business, the biggest concern to EME Inc. was the minimum wage increase to $15 per hour going into effect in 2019. It is going to make a huge dent on EME Inc. financially since they have 115 employees. Mr. Turnbow hopes that securing contracts for one or two years in advance as well as the rising rate of inflation will help their company stay in business. Twenty-five percent of the 27 comparable shops in the area may be lost in the next two years. Machine shops, like EME Inc., could move to other states, but the price for the products’ shipping will increase significantly, proving that operating next to seaports, airports and railroads becomes most efficient for the business and the service price.
Marina DeWit serves as the Region 9 Advocate for the SBA Office of Advocacy, representing small businesses in Arizona, California, Nevada, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. DeWit works with small business owners, state and local governments, and small business associations to bring the voice of Region 9 to Washington DC. She can be reached at Marina.DeWit@sba.gov.