Not too long ago, Techmetals Inc. was asked to help build some boxes.

So what's the big deal? These customized metal cases were contracted by no less than the United States of America, with the mission to store and protect the original Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

In other words, Techmetals found itself involved in a project to preserve nothing less than the core of American history.

The folks at Techmetals often find themselves turning on a dime, as clients from around the world approach the engineering and metals finisher. The Dayton firm was founded in the late 1960s by Dan Brockman, and now has grown to include customers in such industries as automotive, aviation, hydraulics, plastics, printing, pulp, paper, tool, and steel.

It was the National Institute of Standards & Technology that contracted with the firm to construct the rare document cases, because the half-century boxes holding the precious documents were losing their airtight seal. Techmetals offered some high-tech solutions to make sure the new cases would last next to forever.

The complete Techmetals story involves more than tales of glossy chrome and nickel, however. More recently, the firm has partnered with the Raj Soin College of Business at Wright State University to offer unique, real-world experiences to students on campus.

Human resources administrator Pamela Conner was relatively new in her position at Techmetals when students offered to audit the company's HR practices. "They came back with a very detailed, almost one-inch-thick booklet of their findings and recommendations," Conner says. The students analyzed the company's job descriptions, application process, pre-employment testing, compensation, record keeping, and more.

"The bottom line," says Michael Bodey, director of the Small Business Development Center at the college, "is that Wright State contributed over 800 hours of student and faculty time in collaboration with Techmetals. The result is that the Raj Soin College of Business has saved the company at least $50,000."

"We serve area businesses with an average of 50 student projects a year," adds Monica Snow, director of business and international relations at the university. "If any businesses want help, they can contact Berkwood Farmer, dean of the business school, at (937) 775-4859."

The original program has led students to even more creative partnerships in other Techmetals departments. This past winter, students joined with the company to create a new customer service database and new order forms that can be sorted in a variety of ways.

The relationship is one example of how Techmetals strives to improve using available resources in a competitive climate, while providing students with practical experience.

The firm's goal? To offer turnkey services that encompass plating, grinding, and polishing as well as coating, brush plating, welding, blasting, vapor degreasing and heat treatment.

Portions of this story originally appeared in Wright State University's College of Business alumni publication, Connections Magazine, and are reprinted by permission.