Exterior of the company’s factory in Hawthorne, California.
Machine-parts start-up Hadrian has raised $ 90 million from a new round of funding led by automation venture firm Lux Capital and Andresen Horowitz as the company works to build a large automation plant to transform the space supply chain.
Chris Power, founder and CEO of Hadrian, told CNBC, “We’ve launched Factory # 1 and proven that we can build space and defense parts 10 times faster and more efficient than anyone else.”
The fundraising marks the second round of Hadrian’s capital Other investors in the round include Lachi Groom, Caffeinated Capital, Founders Fund, Construction Capital and 137 Ventures. Hadrian refused to determine the exact price after the power increase, but said it was between $ 200 million and $ 1 billion.
Los Angeles-based Hadrian is also adding Lux Capital partner Brandon Reeves and Andresen Horowitz partner Catherine Boyle to the board. Boyle said Hadrian’s ability to scale his approach was a key factor behind Andresen Horowitz’s investment.
“The speed at which they were able to build the factory was remarkable,” Boyle told CNBC.
Some of Hadrian’s new funding will go to the construction of Factory # 2, which is planned to be about 100,000 square feet in Torrance, California, near his current factory in Hawthorne, Power said, CEO. The company aims to open the Torrance factory by August, and continue to lease quickly. Hadrian, who had six employees less than a year ago and now has 40, expects to have about 120 employees by the end of this year, Power added.
Hadrian has three customers. The power companies did not disclose but specified that current customers all build rockets and satellites, for which Hadrian is making aluminum components. The company aims to soon expand its material offering to steel and other hard metals.
“We are not setting up a factory that is like a production line – we are building an abstract factory so that you can throw away any part and it comes out the other way. I can do any of these, “said Power.
Machine supply chain problems
A look inside the company’s factory in Hawthorne, California.
Hadrian seeks to centralize a supply chain that is divided between suppliers spread across the country. Citing his firm’s experience investing in space and defense companies, Boyle added that the current supply chain relies on “thousands of ma-and-pop machine shops” across the country. Hardware and aerospace companies often complain about this, he said.
Power estimates that there are about 3,000 of these small machine shops, which generate about $ 40 billion a year in high-precision components for space and defense agencies.
Josh Wolf, a partner at Lux Capital, further emphasized that these components vary greatly in demand, from “huge company” to “large custom” parts, not “owned by the company”.
According to a survey published last year by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, 2.1 million manufacturing jobs are expected to be incomplete by 2030. Additionally, the average age of machinists is increasing, Boyle says, a key stressor of labor shortages.
“The average age of many mechanics is now in the mid-50s, and many have reached the stage where they are retiring or passing on the shops to the next generation,” Boyle said. “The question is: who will occupy those stores and who will be able to continue supplying the defense industry base?”
Boyle added that a secondary theme in the machining labor market is that Hadrian’s automation system “creates jobs for a new generation of mechanics.”
“There is a shortage of workers across high-skilled trades,” Boyle said.
Hadrian is tackling this with a method that allows the company to hire employees as machinists “who have never participated before,” Power said. He cites examples of rentals made from Hadrian’s Chick-fil-A or Walmart, with no prior experience in parts manufacturing.
“We’ve reached a point where they’re building spaceflight hardware within 30 days of joining Hadrian,” Power said.
Hadrian is teaming up with newly minted machinists who employ talent from a selection of meta, stripe, spacex, and others, with extensive experience in the field or software.