Friday, July 26, 2019

CASE STUDY: Tooling up for Success

Mike Hancock began his fabrication career in his parent’s two-car garage at the age of just 16, armed with nothing but a Lincoln arc welder and a handheld hacksaw. He had one goal at the time: to turn his passion for fabrication into a million-dollar business. What he didn’t anticipate was how much he would need to invest to get there.

 “I was sure I was going to make a million dollars with just those two tools. Little did I know how much more I would have to invest to make that.”

Fast-forward 34 years, Mike now runs two companies, Mike’s Metal Works and MMW Products, Inc., alongside his wife and children. Together the companies gross over $8 million annually and continue to grow both in terms of revenue and the scope of their projects. To keep pace with the constant growth and offer more services, Mike often finds himself expanding both his knowledge and his machine inventory. His most recent leap was into the world of sheet metal fabrication.

[For more on how Mike Hancock turned his two-car garage operation into a multi-million-dollar business, read his full story in The Fabricator.]

Charting new territory: sheet metal

When Mike was approached by a retirement home to construct a walkway remodel, he knew he didn’t have the tools he would need to get the job done. He would need to invest in a shear and a press brake. And at that time, Mike didn’t have any experience in the sheet metal business.

After consulting with his machine sales rep at North South Machinery, Mike decided to purchase a 12-ft., 250-ton Accurpress press brake. As a private business owner, this was a big investment, and having little to no experience in sheet metal operations, Mike had to rely on finding someone he could trust when placing his initial tooling order. After speaking with sales reps from various tooling suppliers, Mike eventually put his trust in Dave Bishop of WILA USA.

 “When I started designing this aluminum product, I really didn’t know too much about sheet metal. And that’s where Dave helped us so much. That guy is so smart at his job and so easy to talk to, and he walked us through. He’s the reason why we chose WILA over all the others for the tooling.”

Sometimes less is more

Mike knew what he needed to build, but he also knew that he didn’t want to purchase anything more than was necessary to get it done. Using WILA’s "spend less, bend more" tool selection strategy, Dave worked one-on-one with Mike to come up with a tool package that provided Mike with only the tools he needed and none of the tools he didn’t.

“He worked with me to understand my needs and get me the tooling that I needed. He came in and showed me how to perform the bending operations I needed with less tooling and save me money in the process.”

For Dave, the "spend less, bend more" strategy is all about maximizing value for his customers.

“Our industry focuses a lot on maximizing productivity, but I also want to place more emphasis on showing our customers how to obtain the maximum value for their investment.”

This is why Dave started employing the "spend less, bend more" tool selection strategy. The concept involves selecting tools that allow customers to bend the widest range of materials, rather than selecting tools that can form specific parts. In the end, it saves the customer money on tools, reduces their tooling inventory, and allows for fewer setups between jobs.

For Mike, the investment in a new press brake and high precision tooling has opened even more doors for continuing to expand his business.

“The talented team of press brake employees and the creative metal fabricators at our facility has allowed us to expand into areas that we never had the ability to perform in previously.”

To learn more about how to apply the "spend less, bend more" tool selection strategy, click here.

CASE STUDY: Tooling up for Success

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