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Lesleh Precision grows in new Rostraver home

| Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Ron Helsel found himself in an enviable position for a small businessman.

Despite expanding his plant in Lower Speers, the 17,000-square-foot facility was simply too small.

“We couldn't move in there,” recalled the president of Lesleh Precision Inc., speaking while seated in his new expansive facility in the Rostraver Airport Industrial Park.

“We had so many people in there, we couldn't move,” he explained.

“We basically outgrew it.”

Helsel actually was looking at another site when he learned that the former Ebara Solar building in Rostraver Township was available.

Utilizing a Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority low-interest loan, which funded about 40 percent of the purchase price, Lesleh Precision purchased the building from Val Vista, a division of General Industries.

In the final three months of 2013, Lesleh Precision prepared to make the move, which

took place in stages to ensure production did not slow down.

Helsel's company produces components for Henry Rifles.

“Henry said, ‘It's great that you're expanding, we need the product. But please don't slow down (production),'” said Helsel, who co-owns the company with his wife, Denise.

Ron Helsel got his start in the machining business shortly after graduating from Elizabeth Forward High School in 1978.

He first went into business in 1989, operating California Precision. That company was located near the former Intermediate Unit One offices in California, Pa.

California Precision did general machining and military contracts as well as producing components for firms such as General Industries and Alstom.

“If you wanted 100 of a certain component, we made it,” Helsel said.

In 1999, Helsel went out on his own, forming Lesleh Precision Inc.

The company's name is his surname spelled backward.

The biggest break for Lesleh Precision came in 2006, when the company was approached by Henry Rifles about producing components for certain rifles.

“It grew from 5 percent of our business to 95 percent of our business,” Helsel said.

His firm produces receiver and trigger plates used in various Henry rifles.

In 2011, Lesleh Precision began production on components for a replica of the 1860 Henry repeater.

The original Henry repeater was infamously cursed by Confederates as the rifle that permitted Union soldiers to “load on Sunday and fire all week.”

Lesleh produces all of the components except the wood for the rifle.

“After three years of hard work, we're in the Henry catalog,” Helsel said.

Currently, the company produces roughly 1,300 receivers annually with a goal of 2,000.

There are 38 employees working at the Rostraver Township facility and the company is growing and still hiring, Helsel said.

“We're the only one who produces this for Henry,” Helsel said.

“Their sales are increasing and we have had to grow, too.

“We're working to put out as many as possible.”

Helsel credited his work crew for the company's growth and success.

“These guys make it happen,” Helsel said. “I just steer the ship.”

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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