Another 'Opening a shop' thread
Close
Login to Your Account
Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 41
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2020
    Country
    UNITED STATES
    State/Province
    California
    Posts
    3
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    1
    Likes (Received)
    0

    Default Another 'Opening a shop' thread

    (Background story, skip down if you want the short story.)

    In the recent years, I have thought of millions of possibilities to make my dream come true, which is owning and operating my own business. Many ideas came, but most of them required knowledge and skills which honestly I didn't have, and didn't have any interest in acquiring them. In addition, many business ideas were way out of my financial power to fund. About two years ago, a friend mentioned how most of the machine shops around the area weren't able to make a die for him (he is in the label printing business.) because they were very busy. This caught my attention and started looking into machining, specifically CNC manufacturing.
    I eventually signed up for some classes for CAD/CAM which I took, and found them honestly quite easy. We mainly focused on modeling parts using 3D wire, surfaces, etc.. and also created basic tool paths. After I took the classes I found a job as a CNC Operator, mainly working on HAAS VF mills and lathes, and had a ton of fun while working there and gained lots of valuable knowledge. My supervisor at the time, (and I really hate to brag) mentioned many times how I was the fastest trainee he has had in all of his 20 something year career, which brings me to the meat of my post.

    I want to start a job shop in the San Diego, CA area and would like any suggestions from current business owners, any problems with my plan, or anything that could help me go forward with this.

    I have about a year worth of experience between programming and cnc operation, and have about 200k to spend on the following;

    a Haas VF2, or VF3 mill, and a Haas st-20 to start off with.
    A hexagon bridge CMM.
    All the supporting tooling for both the mill and the lathe, and metrology tools such as calipers, micrometers, etc..
    I'll probably be working with mastercam, or solid works and the mastercam plug in since is what I'm familiar with.
    Lease a location with about 2,000 sq warehouse.

    At first it will be just me, but will be hiring an operator within the first few months of opening the business.

    It is worth mentioning that I currently manage a business my wife and I own (childcare.) I do all the of the accounting, taxes, payroll, etc.. so I have some experience running a business. Also, my wife and I clear more than enough money every month to pay for the lease, an employee and utilities I will have to cover to operate the business.

    I don't have any customers, but my main marketing strategy will be through the internet (google, yelp, etc..), calling machine shops around the area to see if they have jobs they don't want, and contacting my previous employer (where I worked as an operator) to see if they might have anything for me. I will also try to get government contracts, as I am a disable veteran, and it is my understanding that the government does set aside contracts specifically for small businesses owned by disable veterans.

    any suggestions, problems with my plan, or way to improve my chances surviving please let me know. Thank you in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Country
    PHILIPPINES
    Posts
    2,636
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    659
    Likes (Received)
    1008

    Default

    My suggestion would put that 200K in the bank and go get more experience. 1 year as an operator is just enough to get you in trouble. Maybe 5-10 years down the road when you've made a dumpster full of mistakes and made some good contacts, then consider a shop. San Diego is overpopulated with machine shops, Most filled with Mexican and Filipino machinist working for $8 an hour and no benefits. Just take a ride down Chula Vista and every other building is full of equipment. Go to some place like Alt Machine in Santee or Doncaster in El Cajon and settle in making about $30 an hour and give the headache of trying to start a shop to someone else.

    Your business plan consist of using google and calling shops asking for work? You and a hundred other guys. I outsourced well over $10M last year and if someone called me up looking for work their going in the blacklist, no matter how good they are. I want someone face to face making a deal over a handshake, not some guy sitting in an office with a computer. You never know when some shop owner may be editing a program and he has to drop everything to get the phone then try to find his train of thought again. Heaven forbid you make him scap a part, or worse, Crash a machine. That will ruin your name overnight, Shop owners talk to one another about things like that.

    Your status as a disabled veteran may get you some favoritism but there is thousands of other Vets with the same idea. And in San Diego you will be competing against dual status minorities and that's tough to do. The US government has to set aside 5% of all contracts for minority owned businesses and they qualify for Minority Grants/Loans. It's difficult to compete with shops with free or near free funding.

    In my case I sent my Filipina immigrant wife to a 2 week SBA program. They cut her a check and gave her a tier 2 contract agreement supplying L-3 and she had barely been in the country three months. That's hard for any shop to compete with.....

    You referenced that a friend needed a die made and the usual supplier didn't have time. That shop that didn't have time yesterday may be starving for work tomorrow and cut your throat on pricing. Let's say you had a shop and the guy came in and needed a simple die, Say, he want to stamp out 1/8 X 2 X 2 1018 CRS. What material would you make that die from? How much clearance is needed for that particular punch? Does it need to be a 2 post or 4 post die? How much tonnage will it take to punch the part so you can figure the springs?

    These are things you need to know to be a good machinist and have a reputable company. Customers like when their supplier calls them up and lets them know there's a mistake with a drawing or model before the customer sinks $$$ into a project. One year of experience has not even scratched the surface of machinist knowledge yet.

    I'm not trying to put you off on following your dream of owning a shop, but rather encourage you to wait.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Country
    UNITED STATES MINOR OUTLYING ISLANDS
    Posts
    3,973
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    0
    Likes (Received)
    1794

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by g-coder05 View Post
    I'm not trying to put you off on following your dream of owning a shop, but rather encourage you to wait.
    And maybe pick a different area .... or look into something very specialized that few people do, and the parts are small enough to ship easily.

    You don't want to be a job shop in a place that already has fifty of those.

    One other thing ... if you can develop your own product ? Then you get retail pricing for it. Otherwise, the guys who pay you $5 apiece are selling the item for $17.50 and they make all the money.

    There's ideas right here - there was a guy who wanted heads made for old Rollses. The money sounded okay. If'n I wuz twenty-five I'd be on that like stink on poo.

  4. Likes yardbird, Steven-Canada liked this post
  5. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Toronto
    Posts
    5,085
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    3428
    Likes (Received)
    3961

    Default

    you looked at a million possibilities and the best was a machine shop? How bad were the other 999,999?

    I would say you cannot go into this business without a lot of machining knowledge. Margins are skinny and depend on knowing how to make stuff int the shortest time without errors.

    I think you need to learn something about business strategy before heading into business. A machine shop is so difficult because its the race to the bottom (so easy to email drawings around for quotes) and there are limited ways to differentiate yourself. What you want in some business is IP of some sort, something that produce higher margin and makes the business less dependent on your personal effort turning a hand wheel (or pressing a button).

    $200M is not insignificant, your goal has to be how can you stretch that investment. Somehow use it to buy IP or create IP and outsource to some who's put their money into machinery and knows how to use it. By a business with a product or brand and grow or develop your own product or brand.

    If you really really want to have a machine shop, go work for some old boy with the plan of taking it over in 5 years once you start get how it works. Pay him off over time (ideally from profit)(old corp finance maximum - its not what you pay but how you pay).....and keep the 200M aside.....working capital.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Beaverdam, Virginia
    Posts
    8,126
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    914
    Likes (Received)
    3909

    Default

    Somebody with an ego the size of Texas and a year of experience wants to open a machine shop, is this real? Hit the search function for a clown called Generic Default, this could be part 2 of his story.

  7. Likes g-coder05 liked this post
  8. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Toronto
    Posts
    5,085
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    3428
    Likes (Received)
    3961

    Default

    Thinking about it more.....wtf, you've got a business that you claim is making lots of money and in a domain you know. Hello? Run with it. grow it to 50 locations, make it tight, franchise it......and send us a picture from the yacht, tommy vu like.

  9. Likes wheelieking71, Steven-Canada liked this post
  10. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Mebane North Carolina USA
    Posts
    6,775
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    53
    Likes (Received)
    1977

    Default

    Dozens of identical threads on the board, search for them.

    Machine shop, $60 an hour. Huge startup and operating costs.

    House painter. Quoted me $100 an hour
    Drywaller, $150 an hour.
    Mason $100-200 depending on job,

    All wanted me to buy materials upfront. 2 out of 3 wanted cash payment no receipts. All are 2-3 day jobs. And how much equipment did they own........

  11. Likes Jashley73, chet liked this post
  12. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,355
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    3324
    Likes (Received)
    1807

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dualkit View Post
    Somebody with an ego the size of Texas and a year of experience wants to open a machine shop, is this real? Hit the search function for a clown called Generic Default, this could be part 2 of his story.
    VWFullcup comes to mind too.

  13. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    523
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    246
    Likes (Received)
    403

    Default

    Not a chance I would step into an ownership position in this industry with 1 year as an operator. I can promise you this, owning and running a shop is not just an extension of a CAD/CAM class and some time in front of a machine. Your previous business experience would help but the fact is you need to understand the industry. I have way more experience in this field than you and I'm not convinced I understand it.

    Everyone who is capable is busy as a bee right now. If the economy tanks that is going to change in a hurry.

    The following advice is what I would give to the guy who couldn't be talked out of it.

    You probably don't need a CMM just starting out. If you were jumping right into higher end work you would, but not without a client list.

    You probably don't want to focus too much on taking over slow work from other shops. If someone showed up at my door with no verifiable work history the only work I would be sending out is low skill busy work that won't pay very well or allow you to gain the valuable experience.

    Everyone and his brother has a website with a picture of a Haas in the corner and a butcher block work station with "precision, high tech, aerospace quality ,CNC" plastered all over. Don't count on work lining up to wait for you to get to it.

    The last thing I would recommend is at the very least go back to work for a good shop in the area. Take a paycheck while you learn, and if they are really busy and you have the skills to do the work, offer to make them in your shop. This way you at least have a foot in the door and they know you are accountable. If you put that money aside and work your way up over the next 5 years before you take the jump you'll be much more prepared for what is waiting for you.

  14. Likes Mcgyver, empwoer, Steven-Canada liked this post
  15. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Temecula, Ca
    Posts
    3,195
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    1381
    Likes (Received)
    4170

    Default

    Nobody mentioned "Hot Dog Cart" yet?

    +1 to what's been said above. You need more experience, without question. Also, San Diego is about the shittiest place you could open a job shop.

  16. Likes Mcgyver, Dualkit liked this post
  17. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Beaverdam, Virginia
    Posts
    8,126
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    914
    Likes (Received)
    3909

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by g-coder05 View Post
    San Diego is overpopulated with machine shops, Most filled with Mexican and Filipino machinist working for $8 an hour and no benefits. Just take a ride down Chula Vista and every other building is full of equipment. Go to some place like Alt Machine in Santee or Doncaster in El Cajon and settle in making about $30 an hour and give the headache of trying to start a shop to someone else.
    If there are $30 an hour jobs in San Diego something sure has changed since I was working for the man a couple decades ago in SoCal. That area used to be a bad combination of a high cost of living combined with low wages for blue collar jobs. Wages were Inland Empire like or worse, but housing costs were more like Orange County.

  18. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Pacific NW
    Posts
    5,158
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    8
    Likes (Received)
    862

    Default

    Silva, go for it. And don't be dragged down by the naysayers.

    One year of experience is plenty. I started never having worked in a machine shop at all. I was an engineer in the front office of a business with a small shop located in an industrial area. My machining experience consisted of owning a small bench lathe and mill at home.

    What got me interested in owning a machine shop was the number of people off the street who came into the front office asking if we would do machining jobs for them. The company owner was hard nosed about that type work, NO. I thought about using the business's shop to do the work in after hours, but the boss said no.

    My business goal was to get into product development/prototyping work (that doesn't take the latest and greatest in high dollar equipment). I got my first piddly jobs through small local machine shops. It took a few years to make contacts for product development work (I was lucky in the sense that Seattle was booming with spin-off startups from Microsoft).

    My advise is to try and establish working relationships with small high tech startups.

  19. Likes DavidScott, neilho liked this post
  20. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    north of Bean town
    Posts
    478
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    77
    Likes (Received)
    159

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug View Post
    One year of experience is plenty.
    add a zero after the 1 and he might be close...thats if his goal is to make money.

  21. Likes tdmidget liked this post
  22. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    north of Bean town
    Posts
    478
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    77
    Likes (Received)
    159

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Silva View Post
    My supervisor at the time, (and I really hate to brag) mentioned many times how I was the fastest trainee he has had in all of his 20 something year career, which brings me to the meat of my post.


    I have about a year worth of experience between programming and cnc operation,
    you can be fast as lightning...does you 2 poops worth of good if your parts are not correct

    you say 1 year between programming and operating...what about setting up, planing out a manufacturing method, thinking of all the things that can go wrong before you even load up your NC file.

    Im firmly in the camp of save your money and get REAL experience...anybody can draw CAD, anybody can push the GO button

  23. Likes empwoer liked this post
  24. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Beaverdam, Virginia
    Posts
    8,126
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    914
    Likes (Received)
    3909

    Default

    In my days working for the man training people I have seen many a fast learner turn around and slam right into a wall they cannot pass. Early success often can be no indication of long term success. I could not think of very many trades where striking out on your own would be a wise move after a year's experience.

  25. Likes Bobw, Jashley73 liked this post
  26. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Gilbert, AZ
    Posts
    6,191
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    7876
    Likes (Received)
    7963

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Big B View Post
    VWFullcup comes to mind too.
    At least this guy would be squandering his own money.

  27. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Beaverdam, Virginia
    Posts
    8,126
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    914
    Likes (Received)
    3909

    Default

    Looks like Generic Default hasn't even updated his Kick Starter page in 3 months. I was waiting for him to come back saying the Corona Virus killed off all his backers.

  28. Likes Garwood, g-coder05 liked this post
  29. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    4,771
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    5156
    Likes (Received)
    2463

    Default

    I started my shop without much prior experience. I never worked in a machine shop before owning one, but I bought a 10" SB, Bridgeport and 250 MIG welder at 15 with money that I earned building pallets 30 hours a week.

    I think a passion for running your business is the biggest factor in your success.

    You can make up for a lot of deficiencies by trying really hard, but sometimes you can't.

    In my opinion, a job shop is probably in the can't category without way more experience than you have. Unless you can find some unique niche. A few Haas machines is not a niche unless you plan to do something unconventional with them.

    I don't have a job shop. I make products and do a bit of repair work. Maybe 5% is repair work and that cash covers groceries and stuff.

    Knowing what I know, the last thing I would do with $200k is start a job job with the same or worse equipment everyone else has.

    It's also worth mentioning that you have not been in manufacturing when times are bad. Boy, you start a business thinking this is the norm you'll be fucked sideways when the economy goes south again.

  30. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Country
    CANADA
    State/Province
    Ontario
    Posts
    65
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    9
    Likes (Received)
    6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Garwood View Post
    I started my shop without much prior experience. I never worked in a machine shop before owning one, but I bought a 10" SB, Bridgeport and 250 MIG welder at 15 with money that I earned building pallets 30 hours a week.

    I think a passion for running your business is the biggest factor in your success.

    You can make up for a lot of deficiencies by trying really hard, but sometimes you can't.

    In my opinion, a job shop is probably in the can't category without way more experience than you have. Unless you can find some unique niche. A few Haas machines is not a niche unless you plan to do something unconventional with them.

    I don't have a job shop. I make products and do a bit of repair work. Maybe 5% is repair work and that cash covers groceries and stuff.

    Knowing what I know, the last thing I would do with $200k is start a job job with the same or worse equipment everyone else has.

    It's also worth mentioning that you have not been in manufacturing when times are bad. Boy, you start a business thinking this is the norm you'll be fucked sideways when the economy goes south again.
    Yep ain't that the truth, those are the businesses that no longer exist after that downturn.
    Can't make money from a pile of sand in a sandstorm.

  31. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Beaverdam, Virginia
    Posts
    8,126
    Post Thanks / Like
    Likes (Given)
    914
    Likes (Received)
    3909

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Garwood View Post
    It's also worth mentioning that you have not been in manufacturing when times are bad. Boy, you start a business thinking this is the norm you'll be fucked sideways when the economy goes south again.
    Machining is probably one of the few trades where someone will start a shop during a downturn in the economy. More than one guy started doing side work from his garage when he got his overtime cut or worse yet was laid off. Most all the jobs I worked for others overtime was the norm. The only time I didn't work OT was when I was on a graveyard shift.


Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •