Spika Receives Montana State Family Business Award

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Spika Design & Manufacturing received the Montana State Family Business Award for 2013 in the Medium Sized Business Category (30-50 employees).

“We’re honored to be recognized among many other outstanding businesses in the state,” stated Katie Spika.

The Family Business Program and Awards were established in 1994 as an outreach program through Montana State University College of Business. It offers education and information to the backbone of many Montana businesses, those that are owned and managed by families of Montana. This program allows small businesses to share ideas and concerns common to most small businesses.

Judging criteria included business growth and success, innovative business strategies and practices, contributions to community and industry, longevity, family-business linkage, succession preparedness, and multi-generation family business involvement.



Spika President to Lead Montana Manufacturing Council

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At the Montana Chamber of Commerce fall meeting in Kalispell, Tom Spika, President of Spika Welding and Manufacturing, was installed as Chairman of the Montana Manufacturing Council, a subsidiary of the MT Chamber of Commerce. This position also holds a seat on the MT Chamber board.

“I’m excited to be heading this manufacturing organization,” said Spika, “particularly now that we have formed an alliance with the Montanan Manufacturing Extension Center to bring broader-based support and advocacy to the state’s manufacturers.”

Tom envisions the MMC focusing on five key areas:

  • Legislative advocacy on behalf of Montana’s manufacturing sector
  • Promoting awareness of the contributions of manufacturing to the state’s economy and employment
  • Facilitating training and technology development to the state’s manufacturers
  • Encouraging and facilitating networking and interaction opportunities within the manufacturing community
  • Actively promoting industrial, technical, and manufacturing career paths to students to facilitate development of our future workforce

“I’m a true believer in the benefits of growing our manufacturing sector, both in the state and particularly in Central Montana,” said Spika. “Every job created by those selling a new or value-added product to customers outside of our area makes a very significant impact to our local economy.”

Spika Welding Wins First Montana Manufacturer of the Year Award

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Tom Spika and Spika Welding received the first-ever “Manufacturer of the Year” award today in Helena. The award was presented by the Montana Manufacturing Council, a subsidiary of the Montana Chamber of Commerce, at the biennial Trade & Manufacturing Day at the Capitol. Governor Steve Bullock attended the presentation.

“Spika Welding and Manufacturing is doing amazing work in the Heart of Montana,” said Webb Brown, President/CEO of the State Chamber. “Their maintenance stands for aerospace and military applications are a great example of new manufacturing in Montana.”

Spika Welding was also noted for their export business, selling in eight countries last year. Plus, their small, forty-plus employee company is a family enterprise, with Tom, wife Carol and daughter Katie involved in the business.

“It’s a humbling experience to get something like this (award) for a small company in the middle of Montana,” said Spika. “This recognizes that small companies can create and offer new employment opportunities to keep young people in our state and grow our communities and families.”

About Montana Manufacturing Council

The Montana Manufacturing Council (MMC) is the statewide association for manufacturers and their supporters. The MMC helps build manufacturing in Montana in several ways: connecting manufacturers and supporters to build business; advocating for legislation and rules that benefit manufacturing; supporting and promoting international trade; educating Montanans about the importance of manufacturing. Go to: www.MontanaManufacturingCouncil.com for details and photo.


Case Study: Custom Design Maintenance Stand for B-2 Bomber Windshield

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Spika won a solicitation to provide a maintenance stand to access the windshield of the B-2 Bomber. Following the success of the first platform, the remainder of the required platforms were sole-sourced to Spika.

The Problem

The United States Air Force needed a work platform to access the B-2 Spirit Bomber windshield for inspection, maintenance, and replacement. The platform had to meet several requirements:

  • It had to conform very precisely to the perimeter of the windshield as well as the angular slope of the nose of the aircraft.
  • Because of the LO (low observable) features of the aircraft, it was extremely important that the stand not make contact with the aircraft.
  • It had to have a C-frame design to allow the deck to cantilever over the nose of the aircraft and access the windshield.
  • It needed to have 24” (61 cm) of hydraulic height adjustability.
  • It needed to accommodate four workers at 200 lbs. (91 kg) each, plus 200 lbs. for tooling, for a 1000 lb. (454 kg) load rating.
  • It had to be able to be safely towed at five miles per hour.

The Air Force released a solicitation for the first unit and invited interested companies to send engineers to evaluate the requirements.

Due to the classified nature of the aircraft, no CAD drawings were available to facilitate design of the work platforms. In addition, there were very few areas that were easy to dimension from a baseline because of the complexity of the shape. Therefore, all measurements had to be taken manually, and with incredible precision.

The Solution

Spika proposed an aluminum work platform utilizing proprietary design features for safety, access, and efficiency. The design featured:

  • Lightweight, corrosion-resistant aluminum construction,
  • A work deck that conformed precisely to the nose of the aircraft without sliders,
  • Rubber bumpers around the front of the work platform to protect the aircraft from damage,
  • A hydraulic jack system that vertically adjusted the deck and stair by 24” (61 cm),
  • A height adjustable staircase that could be attached to either side of the stand using quick-release pins for tool- and FOD-free reconfiguration,
  • Safety yellow powder coated railings attached with camlocks for easy removal, reconfiguration, and reinstallation, and
  • Industrial-duty 12” casters with brakes and index locks for ease of movement.


The Results

The work platform worked so well that the Air Force decided to purchase the remainder of the platforms through a sole-source contract. In addition, Spika’s B-2 Windshield Maintenance Stand has proven to be one of the most highly used work stands in the program at Whiteman.

That stand of yours is the number one requested item here – still. – Equipment User

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