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Wednesday, Jun 7, 2023

Women Entrepreneurs: #18 Kim Frankel

Kim Frankel does not think of her employees as employees. Instead, she sees them as team members working toward a common goal of producing the best parts and components that her business, Abacorp CNC Machined Parts, can. “If we are run really well like a great basketball team, everybody wins,” she said. Started in 1997 by Frankel and her husband Rob Frankel, Abacorp specializes in taking round or square chunks of steel, aluminum, brass or plastic and turning them into brackets for commercial airlines as well as parts for steam baths, medical lights, race cars and even Glock handguns. The company employs 33 workers and will have revenue of about $3.1 million for the fiscal year ending June 30. Both Kim Frankel and her husband have backgrounds in manufacturing. He has worked in machine shops for four decades, since a teenager growing up in the San Fernando Valley. The couple was working for Haas Automation Inc. when that company relocated from Chatsworth to Oxnard. That is when they decided to strike out on their own. “We were very successful at what we did and got a great deal of status with Haas, but working for a big company didn’t line up with my vision of life,” she said. That vision centered around helping people, particularly young people. Today, Abacorp has become the method by which she does that. Earlier this month, for instance, she hosted a group of young people from Tierra del Sol, a Sunland nonprofit that works with people with developmental disabilities, including autism. Rob Frankel said the question of how spouses work together is a valid one and admits there are times when it is difficult. “But we try not to hold each other’s work decisions against our personal life,” he said. “I think that is the main goal. We are on the same team trying to get the same job done.” In addition, to working with her husband, Kim Frankel’s payroll at Abacorp includes two of their sons, Conner, a California State University – Northridge student who handles quality control duties; and Taylor, an administrative assistant. Youth emphasis Working with young people allows Kim Frankel to show them opportunities they might not know about otherwise. Not every high school graduate will go on to college, she said, and so learning a trade is a viable alternative. But she wants these young people to understand more than just putting a piece of metal into a machine and pressing a button to make a part that goes onto an airplane. She wants her young workers to understand what it means to run a business, to be part of a team and to develop your community, she said. “The future of manufacturing lies in the hands of our youth, it is not in my hands,” she added. In her career, she had a mentor in the late Moshe Litman, her accountant who passed away last summer. She had met Litman in her early 20s and he helped in getting her a job with a Simi Valley manufacturer of racing components. “He had so much faith and desire for me to succeed,” she said. The two stayed in touch over the years and Litman was excited when she and her husband started Abacorp, she added. Kim Frankel also reaches out to her management team when there is a business problem to be solved. Together, they look at every aspect of a problem and figure out how to address it as a team rather than how management could address it. “The best method in reaching a good decision is unity,” she said. As a woman in the traditionally male-dominated manufacturing field, she admits that she does not meet a lot of other women in her position. For instance, she is the only female business owner on the California Manufacturing Technology Consulting peer council. While she does have two female friends who operate manufacting companies, those were started by other family members. “There are not a lot of businesses that are started up in manufacturing now that are driven by women,” she said. As for how her gender affects her management style, she said that it brings out her mothering side. “It makes me very more compassionate,” she added. That ties in with her wanting to help the younger generation find a place to work that exhibits respect and integrity. It is something that she believes needs to be taught as it is a quality that is not naturally in young people in these days of ubiquitous social media and lackadaisical ways of pushing kids through the school system, she said. – Mark R. Madler

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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