Our founder, Stephan Wagner was an accomplished engineer and machinist. After immigrating from Poland to the United States, Stephan moved his family from Wisconsin to California where in 1922, along with a partner, opened Santa Fe Machine Works. Our company name originates from our first machine shop on Santa Fe Avenue in the heart of Los Angeles.
The Great Depression of 1929 through 1939 could have brought a swift end to a family owned business, but Santa Fe Machine Works survived, as always by putting their employees first. Rather than letting go of his workers during difficult times, Stephan created a contract-to-contract system to keep his staff working. Employees could wait in the parking lot until an order came through and clocked out when work was completed. This eliminated costly downtime, however, Stephan Wagner never took a pay check to ensure his employees were paid first.
Being both a machinist and an engineer, Stephan persisted in furthering Santa Fe Machine Works capacities. He designed and built state-of-the-art planing, wood working and boring machines that were used until they were sold after the Great Depression to make room for continued expansion. After World War-2, both of Stephan and Anna Wagner’s son-in-laws joined the family business. Vincent Lazicki, an egg salesman and Tony Brodnick, a Machinist’s Mate on the USS Arizona joined the family business to become expert machinists for the company.
Stephan Wagner passed away the year before Santa Fe Machine Works was forced to move in 1955 due to construction of the Santa Monica (10) freeway. The new location was in the city of Vernon, a small industrial town east of Los Angeles. This expanded their space to 5,000 square feet to accommodate additional equipment and a staff of skilled workers, trained to handle the demands of a busy repair shop with a stellar reputation.
By 1968, Tony Brodnick’s son-in-law, Dennis Kelly joined the team. When Vincent retired, Tony bought his portion of the business and turned the operations of Santa Fe Machine Works over to Dennis. Under his careful eye, the company grew to 30,000 square feet with 80 employees turning parts.
Dennis and Patye Kelly bought the company when Tony retired in 1982. Until then, Santa Fe Machine Works had enjoyed a reputation as a respected repair shop for manufacturers. But Dennis was ready to move the company forward and began creating injection molding screws for the plastics industry as a compliment to the existing repair business. Our venture into the plastics manufacturing industry proved to be a boon for Santa Fe Machine Works and our customers. Manufacturing has always been our company’s blood. Producing injection and extrusion screws, repairing parts, and supplying tips and barrels became our excellence and it paved the way for a fourth generation to further our family business.
In 1982, Dennis and Patye’s oldest son, Todd began working part-time at Santa Fe Machine Works. He was only 13 years old at the time, but Todd loved working at the shop and soon became our most valued machinist. Todd eventually took over our plastic injection and extrusion screw production.By 1993, Dennis and Patye’s younger son, Scott was brought into the family business as Dennis knew Scott’s excellence was in sales.
In 2006, Santa Fe Machine Works moved to Fontana in order to better serve our focus in the plastics industry.
In 2015, Dennis and Patye turned the company over to their two sons, Todd and Scott who have proven to be an integral part of continuing and expanding our capabilities.
We are proud that Santa Fe Machine Works has maintained a first-class reputation for nearly a century. We’ve survived the Great Depression, three economic recessions and the transfer of ownership over four generations.
And with each decade, we’ve only grown stronger while we’ve continued to discover the most efficient methods of supplying our customers with superior service and parts.