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Shop Thread - Covenant Manufacturing

Covenant MFG

Plastic
Joined
May 26, 2021
Location
Greater Sacramento
Hi all! Introduction time.

I've been lurking for a few months, mostly reading with some posts here and there. I'm 22, live in the Sacramento area, and started a job shop in September of last year.

So, little background:

Through my teens I was into the knifemaking stuff, and when I moved out I got a job with a small company that did specialty knives in the Bay Area of CA, got my intro to machining as an operator on a couple Haas vmc's and a wire edm.

After a year or so an older friend who owns an engineering firm recommended I get more into the programming side of things, and encouraged the fledgling dream of buying a machine and starting a shop of my own.
I figured print to part was where better money (and skills) was for a guy who loves messing with metal, so I started looking for a low volume job shop to learn more.

I got a job at one of the mid-sized older shops in Sacramento about two years ago, started off mopping floors and scrubbing insides of machines, and after a LOT of learning and mistakes I was consistently making good parts in good time, gradually more and more complex as the boss saw me improve. Grateful to the guys there who were super willing to help and teach and put up with my crap.

Meanwhile I was saving up as best I could. The aforementioned friend offered me an empty corner in the warehouse of his firm in Rocklin, and last summer started seriously looking for something small to get me started.

Through this time I read as much as I could here and on other forums, and Instagram. I'm pretty conservative anyway, and it seemed to me like the biggest warning everyone gave was not to overleverage and to watch the cashflow, so I'm going bootstrapping only, probably until at least the 3rd or 4th machine. I figured if I was gonna goof and lose it all it would be easier if that was a small amount. Basic idea was if I can make money on a small slow machine, the business startup at least wasn't completely stupid. And if it crashes and burns, then I learned it cheaply.

In September 2021 I got a great condition 2002 Haas TM-1 for $10k off of craigslist, little machine with no toolchanger. Borrowed a friend's truck and tilt trailer and to save money a bunch of friends helped unload it with ratchet straps and a come-along.

That pretty much took out everything I had except for emergency fund, so I paid for wiring and some basic tools over the next month or two as I got my paychecks from the day job.

My very first job was making a plastic dashboard for my uncle's houseboat. $100 was something but not much. A lot of cold reaching out and talking to guys.
Then the big RFQ came in- a friend of a friend ran a dirtbike dealership in town, and couldn't get the usual replacement bushings from China (yay supply chain issues!) for one of his bikes. $2,000 and he paid up front so I could get the material. Instead of way undersized black oxide 1018 parts, I did nice stainless ones barely over what he was paying before, and in time to meet with the post-stimulus check demand he was getting overwhelmed by. He actually came back and ordered double that amount just yesterday.

Anyway, some of the early cold outreach started to turn into RFQ's and then orders, and I got small jobs here and there. Early this year customers started coming back for more. The fact that I could do low quantities and turn parts around in a few days made it easy to get more work without having to race to the bottom. A lot of stuff has been overflow from other job shops.

About a month ago, the day job and 45 minute commute were taking a toll physically, and I couldn't get enough time to keep up with the work.
I got an offer for a job as a CAD drafter at the aforementioned engineering firm, and said goodbye to all the guys at the job shop.

Completely depending how fast this thing goes, I don't expect to try going full time until at least a year from now. I'm single and no debt, so I can afford to be risky but I'm in no hurry.

So that's where I'm at right now. I'll see if I can scrounge up some pictures of my setup and work so far. Looking forward to some good discussion and tips!



I don't post too often, but when I do here's where most of it goes: Login • Instagram
 

michiganbuck

Diamond
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Location
Mt Clemens, Michigan 48035
Sounds like you have a good start in building a business.
Qt; a friend ran a dirtbike dealership in town, and couldn't get the usual replacement bushings from China

*likely the other bike shops are also in need of the same. You might even post them on eBay.
 

mattthemuppet

Hot Rolled
Joined
Apr 22, 2016
Location
San Antonio
great story and fantastic attitude! Even if this venture doesn't take off the way you want I've no doubt you'll be successful in the future. However, without pics = didn't happen :)
 








 
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