Profiles of great machine shops

Profiles of great machine shops

Bruce Vernyi

We present in this issue our 10 Best Machine Shops for 2008.

This annual job is always a great one for us, the editors at American Machinist, because we get to see some of the best work being done in shops across the country.

This is our third annual look at the shops that are performing, competing and profiting better than most, and this year’s cream-of-the-crop shops once again present a broad cross-section of U.S. manufacturing.

Although this year’s best-in-class lean heavily toward the aerospace market, collectively they provide work, products and services to a wide variety of industries from the automotive industry (which may surprise some) to consumer goods and electrical products.

As in previous years, the shops are spread geographically over a wide range. It may be no surprise that the Midwest is strongly represented by six shops — two in Ohio, one each in Indiana and western Pennsylvania (which is close enough to the Midwest), and one each in Oklahoma and Kansas. But there also are two shops from California — one central, one southern; a shop from central Massachusetts and a shop from New York’s Long Island.

And, this year’s 10 Best Machine Shops includes two that are owned and operated by women – proving that machining isn’t just a man’s world any longer. As we have in previous years, we selected the winners based on hard data provided in our annual Survey of American Machine Shops. Their status was confirmed by site-visits to each shop by American Machinist editors.

They are self-defined as shops that have developed detailed plans that lead to success; that passionately follow those plans; and that confirm their progress by measuring where they were, where they are and where they intend to be.

We started to look for such world-class performers for two reasons:

First, to recognize the efforts of the shop owners and managers and the people who work for them.

They all are true American Machinists, and they are surviving, competing and prospering in a business that faces some of the toughest competition anywhere in the world.

And, for the most part, they are competing with a “Bring It On” attitude, ready to stand tough in their knowledge that they can meet any challenge put in front of them and that they can match any competitor against them.

Second, we hold these shops up as models to others.

Sometimes – when the markets are down, or you’ve just lost a customer, or you’ve been underbid by an anonymous outfit in another country – it can be hard to maintain that no-whining attitude that seems to define winners in even the toughest environment.

By providing examples of shops that succeed at the highest level, we hope we’re helping others to seek and find solutions to whatever problems they face. We hope the stories about these best shops – how they learned about technologies and techniques and put them to strategic use to really make a difference – will encourage others to learn more easily and advance more quickly.

With this issue we will have presented 30 shops
— 10 this year and 20 others in the past two years
— for which we have empirical data that allows us to say “These shops represent the best in American manufacturing.”

We are thankful to the owners and managers of these shops – and all of the fine people who work with and for them. They have shown us that American manufacturing is alive and well. And every day, they show us why.

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