Eric's Tool Room does jobs such as nitrous oxide valves for the medical industry.
Eric's Tool Room Inc. of Celina, Ohio, does all sorts of work, from maintenance and repair of die cavities to machining castings weighing up to 3,000 lb. But the shop's primary focus is on prototyping jobs. Finding this type of work is not always easy.
"Typically, if you're doing prototype work, it's one or two of something, with no follow-up volume production of the part," says Eric Roy, owner of Eric's Tool Room. "I might be doing a very small, complicated, close-tolerance valve for the medical industry that takes a lot of time and cost, and when I'm through with it, that's that. I know there are not going to be another 5,000 in the pipeline, so I am constantly rolling through different customers and looking for work."
Because cold calling for jobs often proves ineffective and there simply is not enough specialty work in his surrounding area to support his business, Roy relies on (www.Mfg.com), an on-line production-level solution for OEMs and suppliers of engineered-to-order components. The site instantly and "intelligently" matches buyer requirements with potential suppliers possessing the right expertise, credentials, and capacity for the job being sourced.
Once on the system, Roy says he saw thousands of people to evaluate, and they all had jobs needing to be done. "There is enough of the specialty and prototype work on the site to keep me more than busy," he says.
In its first year with Mfg.com, the shop took in almost $40,000 in revenue, $65,000 in the second year, and will probably hit $120,000 this year, with revenues of over $250,000 projected for next year.
"Not bad for a guy that started out three years ago in his attached two-car garage," says Roy.
According to Roy, he uses the site weekly and tries to keep open the request-for-quotes he is interested in to about 50 to 60. These are jobs that he can bid on at any time.
Roy now devotes all his time and effort to productive work, instead of being on the road, calling, faxing prints back and forth and so on. Also, he can quote globally, and while he has yet to penetrate the European market, he has won jobs from Canada. More than 80 percent of the jobs the shop wins come from outside its local area.
Roy says he is particularly pleased with a number of Mfg.com's attributes, including profiling, buyer ratings and the control it provides. The site created a profile for Roy that he says gets him to the top of many search engines.
Customers looking for prototypers can check out Roy's profile on the site and see how he rates with past and current customers. Plus, he can view those who have looked at his profile — who they work for, their contact information, and a good idea of what they need.
Mfg.com recently began rating its previously unrated buyers. Prior to this, buyers had to actually issue a request-for-quote, begin buying, then receive supplier ratings. By rating buyers before they buy anything, Mfg.com provides enough information for shops such as Roy's to decide whether or not they want to work with a particular company. Mfg.com also gives shops the control to pursue the kind of work they want to. Roy says it gives him full control of his company's direction. He can turn up or down the work volume as he sees fit.