10 Best Machine Shops

Sept. 19, 2006
Here are the American Machinist 10 Best Machine Shops

THE AMERICAN MACHINIST 2006 benchmark survey of the U.S. machine shop industry helped to uncover and determine shops that are using the ideas of systematic measurement and business improvement methods based on carefully measuring the factors that lead to success.

Finding who these shops are was just one step in the development of a tool that can help to make all metalworking shops more efficient and profitable. With this report, we are providing very strong examples of the shops that are doing so.

These shops are not giants in terms of sales. They are, for the most part, small-to mid-sized machine shops that are working hard to please their customers.

However, they are giants in their field. They are taking the business of owning and operating a machine shop to a new level, using advanced management techniques.

The shops range from a one-year old operation with sales of $150,000 that is expanding with new equipment to a $15 million operation with 75 employees. They are based across the United States, from Massachusetts to California and from Georgia to the State of Washington.

These shops use a variety of equipment, from the latest multi-axis, multifunctional CNC machine tools to a manual jeweler's lathe, and they serve an equally wide variety of markets, from the auto and aerospace industries to the medical and electronics industries, and their production runs range from one-piece to thousands. While these shops serve many domestic markets, they say orders from their customers come from all over the world.

Some common traits emerged from interviews with the management of each of these shops. American Machinist editors visited each of these shops since August 1, to talk about and to see their operations first hand. Each profile that follows is based on an editor's visit to the individual shop.

The most common feature that these shops share is the commitment that their management makes to their people and the commitment that is returned to the shop from the personnel at the plants. Each of these shops - as the leading shops in the overall survey proved - have developed the ability to attract and retain good employees, and to motivate their employees to take ownership of the work they do.

American Machinist identified several factors in its benchmarking survey as best practices, and we found that these shops excel in each of those practices. But they do so as a matter of course, as a part of the business culture on which these shops were established. The 12 leading indicators that arose from the American Machinist benchmarking survey can be found in the June issue of American Machinist or on-line at (www.americanmachinist.com)

The business philosophy for these Best Shops can be distilled as the idea that running a systematic, metric-based operation is better than running an operation with a haphazard business plan, and that such an organized method—no matter how much work it requires—is the first requirement for success. This report is merely recognition of their success in putting that business philosophy to work.

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