In 1968 Bernard Epps re-established his former namesake company with a couple industry legends as partners and The Bernard Epps Company was once again a player in the Southern California steel tubing industry serving a wide variety of manufacturers making lawn and garden equipment, household furnishings, toys and sporting goods, construction components and automotive aftermarket products. With a product line geared exclusively to small diameter mechanical tubing the Epps Company began to expand into flat-rolled processing and distribution and later custom roll-forming. To finance that expansion Epps and his two partners took on a key investor, Kawasho Corp. Kawasho was the trading arm of Kawasaki Steel Corp, an important supplier to the Epps Company. At the time Epps was operating out of six different locations and eventually combined all six facilities into our current location in 1984. Our current location was previously the western headquarters of Bethlehem Steel.
Gradually, as Epps’ working partners retired, Epps graciously acquired their interests in the company. In 1987 Epps, too, retired and Kawasho acquired 100% of the company which they continued to operate as The Bernard Epps Company until some fundamental changes were implemented in 1989. Those changes included an abandonment of our flat-rolled operations and the investment in the largest ERW tube mill on the West Coast at the time. The christening of that new mill, producing up to 6” x 6” x 3/8” walled structural tubing (Hollow Structural Sections or HSS), was a defining moment for our company and prompted us to seriously consider changing the name of our company. An employee contest was held and a hybrid name was chosen combining where we were, who we were, and what we did; Vernon, Epps, Steel and Tube…..VEST.
As VEST continued to expand a decision was made to increase the size and range with the addition of another new, state of the art, mill with the capacity to roll tubes up to 10” x 10” x 5/8” walls. To make room for this massive machine it was decided to divest the Roll-Form division and focus the efforts of the company solely on tube making. With the extensive investment in tooling a wide range of equivalent rectangles VEST once again boasts the largest range of HSS produced in the Western United States.
Today, VEST continues to operate as a California corporation with its parent now JFE Shoji Trade America Inc., the culmination of a merger between Kawasho Corp and NKK Trade in 2008.
We continue to invest in our capabilities to produce round HSS, upgrade our in-line cutting capabilities, improve our packaging efficiencies and enhance our operational software to ensure our customers that we are committed to being their long term solution for their growing tubing requirements.