What's new
What's new

Own a few machines; wondering if a business partnership is best (I am w/o exp.)

shickok

Plastic
Joined
Jan 19, 2022
Hi, first time to post.

Wondering about the best way to start a shop in Southern California; I am new to the business.

I currently own a Bridgeport/Hardinge Series 1 milling machine and a Eisen lathe, among other equipment recently acquired. My previous company folded and they gave me the machine shop, as payment. Unfortunately, I have no experience with the equipment.

General guidance about creating a machine shop would be appreciated. My focus is more on robotics usage/design so I continue to have a need for machine shop capability. My first thought is establishing a business partnership with someone who has a focus on machining; perhaps they have machines too.

Is there a known registry of business advisors for this kind of business venture.

Any advice will be appreciated. I will check the board or can be reached at [email protected]

With Kind Regards,
Shawn
 

DouglasJRizzo

Titanium
Joined
Jun 7, 2011
Location
Ramsey, NJ.
Welcome

A few questions -
1) Do you WANT to be in this business?
2) Are you employed now?

Depending on how you answer these will determine the next steps going forward.
 

michiganbuck

Diamond
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Location
Mt Clemens, Michigan 48035
QT: and they gave me the machine shop, as payment. Unfortunately, I have no experience with the equipment.

Running a job shop is near impossible with no experience is near impossible. Perhaps you might hire a retired toolmaker to show you some of the ropes. Likely you will need to start knocking on doors to get some work/jobs.

Perhaps the closed shop had a few customers that you have the tooling/programming for.
 

Ox

Diamond
Joined
Aug 27, 2002
Location
West Unity, Ohio
If you will be needing some light machine work to support robotic installs, then you may have something that you can use.
But to start a shop - even with 30 yrs experience, you likely don't have the right equipment.
That would have gotten you started 30+ yrs ago, but not anymore.
Used VMC's are too cheap to use a knee mill for anything other than support equipment.


---------------------

Think Snow Eh!
Ox
 

Conrad Hoffman

Titanium
Joined
May 10, 2009
Location
Canandaigua, NY, USA
Rule #1, never take on a partner. Rule #2, see rule #1. Sure, there are some that work, but it's a commitment that can be way more than marriage and way harder to extricate yourself from. Lawyers are expensive. Most likely you'll come to see your partner as a minion from hell, or worse, no matter how well you get along now. If you need help, hire it!

If you haven't already gravitated into shop work, you probably won't. IMO, see if you can sell the shop, then become a customer to support your robotics efforts.
 

camscan

Titanium
Joined
Sep 5, 2011
Location
Norfolk
Rule #1, never take on a partner. Rule #2, see rule #1. Sure, there are some that work, but it's a commitment that can be way more than marriage and way harder to extricate yourself from. Lawyers are expensive. Most likely you'll come to see your partner as a minion from hell, or worse, no matter how well you get along now. If you need help, hire it!

If you haven't already gravitated into shop work, you probably won't. IMO, see if you can sell the shop, then become a customer to support your robotics efforts.


I think somebody is trying to tell you something, LISTEN.
 

Big B

Diamond
Joined
Jun 26, 2009
Location
Michigan, USA
Your former employer folded and you are planning on starting a machine shop with the machines that they had? If seems like if they couldn't make a go of it you probably don't have much of a chance of making it work either.

My recommendation is that you keep your day job and try to find some work for the machines that you already have. Maybe in a few years of part time work you can morph into a full time gig.

Do you have a shop to put the machines in already? I've heard that southern California isn't exactly cheap for renting industrial space.
 

mhajicek

Titanium
Joined
May 11, 2017
Location
Minneapolis, MN, USA
So what I'm getting is you have an old manual mill and lathe that you don't know how to use. Trying to launch a business with that is like pulling someone off the street, handing them a worn out rifle, no gear, no training, and expecting them to be a soldier, or putting them on a ratbike and expecting them to win superbike races.

The machining industry is highly competitive and cut-throat. Shops with decades of experience and much more modern equipment will run circles around you. If that's really the direction you want to go, you should get/keep a day job that covers all of your expenses, and start learning machining as a side-gig / hobby. Or focus on your robotics; maybe you can get jobs doing that, and support your own projects with a little manual machining while you learn. But be prepared to job out most of your machining to start; you can't let that impact your deliveries. If you take machining jobs, no one will want to pay for your learning experiences; they'll expect you to get the job done quickly, and get it right the first time.
 

IninefingersI

Aluminum
Joined
Mar 9, 2022
Location
Doo Dah, Kansas
Sounds like you aren't planning to open a job shop, but have the machines support your robotics endeavors?

I run an OEM machine shop to strictly to support the company's products. None of the people I work for would even know how to turn their machines on. That is why they pay me. You don't need a partner, you just need to hire a guy.
 

shickok

Plastic
Joined
Jan 19, 2022
Thank you for your thoughts. I respect and appreciate the years of experience that have initially responded.

To answer a few questions to my situation
- Definitely am on the fence about being in the machining business; based on the far reaching comments, so far, I am less inclined to be in it.
- I currently have another business, BOTpharma.com, that generates "part time" income, which is growing. My thought was to add the machining business to support BOT and have a cash cow for outside projects.
- the vertical mill and lathe have extensive tooling; I am a little overwhelmed at the amount of accessories that support the equipment processes.
- We are currently looking for a new space for the robotic business and potentially a machine shop business. This forum post is to help me decide which way to go on the machining.

I truly respect experience so I defer to people with more than I.
So it looks like I divest the machine assets and find a shop to support the robotics, or hire someone to manage the machines, which is quite costly and expensive. The partnership does not look feasible according to a few of the responses.

Thank you for all of your thoughts and opinions, thus far. I am learning.
Shawn
 

vincent eggleton

Aluminum
Joined
Jun 28, 2016
I agree with bobw you should keep the machines and use them for your simple prototype stuff. Making a few of the prototypes yourself will give you an idea of how you want the quantity parts to be made and/or you know a rough idea of time per part if some one made to make them manually. I have had a customer this year who uses a 3d printer for prototypes and he told me he was worried about designing a part that would not be possible or would be more expensive to make just because he did not understand how some one may make them.

I try not to ask to many questions but if the customer is willing to be open about what the part is for and how it gets used I am always willing to throw in my 2 cents. (for what little that is worth)

If the equipment starts to cost you money in order to keep it like higher rent then your able to make off of them then I would look into liquidating.
 

Ox

Diamond
Joined
Aug 27, 2002
Location
West Unity, Ohio
The nice thing about the machines that you have there (I really have no clue what the lathe is) is that they doo not:

A) have a hard drive
B) Run Microsoft anything
C) Will not be worth less in 5 yrs, even if you never use them
D) Lightening can't doo much damage to them
E) Don't have capacitors drying out even if you don't use them.
F) Don't have batteries to go dead
G) Don't have parameters to try to save somewhere. (OH Schidt! Where'd those git to? I bet those are on that tower with the burnt hard drive!)

But you will learn quickly the terms "climb" and "conventional".
But only at a cost...


But the mill that you have there is going to be one of the tightest that you will find as it is reasonably new.
It could be 15 yrs old, but it never lived in the day that a knee mill was used all day / every day, so it's likely almost as new.
And with that said - the terms above may not cost as much to learn with that new of a mill.



------------

Think Snow Eh!
Ox
 

john.k

Diamond
Joined
Dec 21, 2012
Location
Brisbane Qld Australia
Ive seen sucessful partnerships,plenty......but I cant tell you what makes one.......however,a few simple machines?......take maybe a week to learn to use them ?.....lathes and mills aint rocket science....anyone can become proficient in the machines he has in a few weeks,and I mean able to turn out useful work.......When I was into apprentices,it was often said they were most skilled in the first three months,then rapidly went downhill as their interest waned,and the drudgery of working in a shop took over.
 

michiganbuck

Diamond
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Location
Mt Clemens, Michigan 48035
If you know of a robotic something that you could mass produce on the machines you have, and find a retired skilled guy that might run them you might have a go.
Paying a lease on the shop space likely eat up $2K+ a month.

One customer from the closed shop might make rent(?)

A cold turkey and no machining skills would be a hard start.
 

Mcgyver

Diamond
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Location
Toronto
My suggestion....

1) get a job so you are not economically sliding backward
2) set the machines up in your garage
3) spend evenings and weekends reading and doing, become competent. Between practical and written, you can teach yourself an amazing amount......and there is zero point in thinking of start up machining business if you don't know how to machine.
4) decide if you like it and have an aptitude for it
5) start to take in some jobs, side jobs to your day gig, grow that
6) learn business, sales, accounting, finance etc (maybe you have skills there already)
7) hang out here, learn and realize a job shop can be a lousy business

I see little chance of anyone wanting a partnership, what do you bring to the table? A few old machines? yeah ok, but I doubt that is compelling enough....but if was, quickly there is going be a strong sense of imbalance between what you bring to the table everyday and what they experienced partner does. Besides, partnerships are difficult. I've had good and bad, but overall would avoid them.

If you're looking for a career, take stock of what you are good, what you are skilled at, what markets and industries you have credibility in, what you like do and brings out the best in you, tolerance for risk etc etc.....don't just pick machining for no other reason, including skills, than some old machines landed in your lap,.
 

Big B

Diamond
Joined
Jun 26, 2009
Location
Michigan, USA
Thank you for your thoughts. I respect and appreciate the years of experience that have initially responded.

To answer a few questions to my situation
- Definitely am on the fence about being in the machining business; based on the far reaching comments, so far, I am less inclined to be in it.
- I currently have another business, BOTpharma.com, that generates "part time" income, which is growing. My thought was to add the machining business to support BOT and have a cash cow for outside projects.
- the vertical mill and lathe have extensive tooling; I am a little overwhelmed at the amount of accessories that support the equipment processes.
- We are currently looking for a new space for the robotic business and potentially a machine shop business. This forum post is to help me decide which way to go on the machining.

I truly respect experience so I defer to people with more than I.
So it looks like I divest the machine assets and find a shop to support the robotics, or hire someone to manage the machines, which is quite costly and expensive. The partnership does not look feasible according to a few of the responses.

Thank you for all of your thoughts and opinions, thus far. I am learning.
Shawn

If you can find room for the machines, keep them. Some will tell you that you need CNC's to make any money but that isn't always the case.

You can use manual machines to make money but just don't plan on making a living off of them right away. They can be great support equipment for your robotics endeavors.
 

michiganbuck

Diamond
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Location
Mt Clemens, Michigan 48035
Perhaps make special trays to hold pharm stuff. Holders for things to set more safely on a table. Chemical lab structure bases, special wall racks and Holders for pharm tools. a pharms thing/tool/whatever to sell on eBay or on your website.

I see some pharm stuff that is light-duty like racks, so easy to tip over, There could be a market for heavy-duty items or design improvement for some odd need.

Perhaps a stainless steel or aluminum test tube rack that sells for $60 might be an item. (agree I haven't priced SS lately)


It is a pretty high price marketplace if you can discover or invent something useful.
Labconco 7487600 8-Place SS Rack for 600 mL Tubes from Cole-Parmer
 

jccaclimber

Hot Rolled
Joined
Nov 22, 2015
Location
San Francisco
I'm an engineer that has a mill, and I often work in places that have a manual lathe, bandsaw, the usual accessory machines. A few thoughts:
1. No partners.
2. No partners.
3. Really, I mean it.
4. If you know robotics, and don't know machining, keep it that way. My last job left me with a couple bulk cases of chips, snacks, bottled drinks, and a rather nice collection of mini torque tools. I did not choose to start a convenience store or electronics contract manufacturer. I did use those things to make life a little easier for the mechanical engineering work that I do.
5. Internal machine shops only run cheaper than external machine shops when:
You need something that is simpler than the cost of writing and processing a PO.
You need something *NOW*.
You have something fairly specialized, or which requires a detail most places tend to overlook.

Even with a mill on hand, we've still found it to be cheaper to send most things in QTY > 1 to a nearby shop. They are better tooled, more experienced, and CNC really is just that much faster for anything repetitive. It costs less to overnight, pay for the expedite, and overnight back (or have someone pick up on the way in to work) than the lost opportunity of having our engineering staff, many of whom own their own machines, do the machining.

While your former employer may have done you a slight favor, the odds are that they know making you responsible for that machinery was more cost effective for their time/effort than any other way of quickly emptying their space. This doesn't mean you can't benefit, but it isn't such a great opportunity that you should switch careers.
 

CITIZEN F16

Titanium
Joined
May 2, 2021
If you will be needing some light machine work to support robotic installs, then you may have something that you can use.
But to start a shop - even with 30 yrs experience, you likely don't have the right equipment.
That would have gotten you started 30+ yrs ago, but not anymore.
Used VMC's are too cheap to use a knee mill for anything other than support equipment.


---------------------

Think Snow Eh!
Ox

I started as a handle cranking monkey about 30 years ago, even then I got lucky. I had a customer who was the only game in town, and another customer who was an inventor as a hobby that made a fortune selling coring tools. The inventor died and the only game in town guy got hit with knock offs. By then I had banked enough cash to buy CNC equipment.
 








 
Top