Vendor List, What does it take? - Page 2
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  1. #21
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    Here is another way to look at things.

    Tier 1 Supplier (OEM. Auto, Honeywell, Lockeed, GE, etc)

    Tier 2 Supplier (Most ISO Shops, some certs, able to sell to Tier 1's)

    Tier 3 Supplier (Job Shop, General machining, does overflow work for Tier 2's that dont need special certs.)

    These are categories that we all fall under. I am Tier 2/3 Depending on the customer. No ISO or any certs. I do have a QMS and follow First Article Inspections for all jobs. Not much more documentation needed.

    I got a newer customer last year that needed Reach/Rohs certs. As well as material certs. Some paperwork involved but not too much. Pretty easy but a little time consuming. I got to charge $10-$15/hr more than shop rate and still got the jobs.

    It all depends on how professional you want to be and what type of work you want to go after. It sounds like you should be doing overflow work for me or other shops like mine in the area until you can handle more production. It wouldnt take much to keep you and grandpa busy.

    Keep at it. I was in kindergarten living above the garage when my dad started running screw machines. He had to open the garage door to load a 12' bar because he didnt have enough room. Mid winter. I have been around these machines my whole life. I can tell if something isnt right just by listening to them run. The type of stuff that takes years to understand but will always be with you.

    Good luck and get in touch soon. I am setting up new jobs for new customers for the next 2 weeks. You can see the process first hand.

    -Dan

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by LilMachinist View Post
    Currently I am investing alot of my money, which is tight, into tooling and metrology equipment. I do have a good arsenal of specialized tooling for engine rebuilding built up such as valve seat cutters and automotive hones.
    Small shops that do custom engine work are now few and far between in the area where I grew up in. It seemed like every other guy in my high school class wrenched on cars, large scale engine re builders weren't common and dealer crate motors cost an arm and a leg. The small town I lived in when I went to college had two speed shops, and the college town had two crank grinders in it.

    As mentioned above if you have a passion for cars, there is a place to make some of your own products, especially if you like classic cars. The great recession of 2008 gave the classic car market a big hit that it still hasn't recovered from, a lot of companies that served that market went under.

  3. #23
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    When I think of engine rebuilding (in my part of the world at least) a former ex neighbor who wound up doing better out of simple vehicle servicing [oil changes] than engine rebuilds. Now he was referring to newer vehicles (mainly taxis), as that became his mainstay. Guess sometimes some diversification, whatever brings the biccies in!]

    "But I'm a........" if it aint well represented in your area and makes the bucks without too much time commmitment or equipment purchase!!

    Got a couple of things we do here that arent exactly a favourite thing of mine, but given the $ it brings in without killing me time wise.......well I cant ignore it.

    Conclusion, you just dont know what will crop up. Being small provides you with a degree of flexibility many of the bigger players dont have. That at times can play to your advantage.

    We persevered with a couple of different types of job for a while, based on the fact we were being asked on a semi-regular basis. Few competitors within the state it seems. Worked out a way to do in an easier way for us than to merely follow the original mfr spec. Now they come in from all over the state. This has worked well for us in the past, but now it has been relegated to in between jobs that we can push out faster, resulting in a better return for a given time. Just the evolution of a business. Stuff changes, whatever pushes the show forward I suppose.

  4. #24
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    Here is my stab at the original question about vendor lists.

    1. Think back to past work and who rises to the top of the list regarding easy to work with, consistency of parts, expectations, volume of work, etc. The top rating in each category being what best fit you. Like if you had a job that paid really well, but the QC was a big problem, they are not top of the list.

    2. Make a list of those several customers and what attributes they have like industry, company size, quality program, etc.

    3. Go make friends with the folks you dealt with at those places. Be it engineer or purchaser or custodian. Not in a fake way, but genuine. And keep any eye out for things you are doing that you can ask for their input on. Be an open book. Next time you are fiddling with a job, think about that machinist you dealt with at another company and give him a friendly call and politely ask for his input (help). Any excuse to stay in touch with these folks. Next time you go to lunch with them, gather info about who their company competes with, where they worked last, what they like about the industry, what their comp struggles with, etc. Form a well rounded picture.

    4. (In parallel with 3) Take that list and go googling in your neighborhood and find other places that are similar in size and feel. And those places MUST be only "slightly" bigger than you are. "for now" If you are 1-2 guys machining, find the the company with 10 guys designing special machinery (But not 50). If you call them, its very likely the owner picks up the phone.

    It's the Baby step/long game approach.

    Don't go after big fish. The big conveyor place in town that you drive by everyday is not who you want as a customer. They have released 3 drawing pkgs this week, each with 100 dwgs and 4 weeks lead time that will bury you if you got that opportunity. Then they won't call you again. But those pkgs went to shops that can manage that load, but just barely and wouldn't mind help, if they know you on a personal level.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by LilMachinist View Post
    Hello,

    I help run a small general machine shop in Western Mass., we don't have any employees, just me and my grandfather. Our shop has been in business for many years and has been through the highs and lows but was ultimately undermined by a dishonest partner. I have been working here since my mid teens and I have been attempting to take us up a level. I have solicited many buyers, built a website but over the last years I have only managed to make the vendor list of one company that every once in a while will send us their "pain in the butt" jobs.

    Frankly I am just wondering, how do you go about contacting a company to make their vendor list? The most success I have had is in boring/honing cylinders and rebuilding small engine components but I really would like to continue growing the "parts production" side of things. We do have just a few serious customers that get us by but even to support 2 independent people, it would be a real stretch.

    Any thoughts? I would like to work towards some quality certs. but it would be a HUGE leap for us and that's never minding the financial investment, probably too early for us. Regardless I know the work is out there, it just seems very tough to get your foot in the door.

    Thank you all very much and if interested, check out our website millandturn.com
    I can't speak for more than my business I have never bought equipment or tooling hoping to find work to use it on.
    I read these post and I hear a lot of I want to xyz. As a machine shop you are providing a service to your customers. If you are not able to provide that service you are not a vendor.
    If you go out and buy some machine that has a specific size capability and the business next door needs work done that is 10" bigger than your machines capability you won't get the work. You have already spent your capital, filled sq ft in the shop etc.
    If you want to expand and grow, go find out what your customers need and wants and provide them with it. It doesn't matter if you don't like working with 4140 or whatever they are not paying you to like what you are doing, they are paying you to do what they need.
    Not many are paid to go hunting or sitting on the beach, but they pay pretty well to get a plant running on Saturday night at 2am.

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  7. #26
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    My original business plan was to rebuild and flow test gasoline fuel injectors. I built a test stand, ultrasonic cleaning machine and flow bench from scratch in my spare time while in the Navy.

    Just as I got out $20 injectors from China hit the market. I did whatever work I could with a Bridgeport, 10" SB lathe MIG and TIG welders and a 2 post vehicle lift in a 1200 sq/ft shop I rented for $300/mo

    I built a half dozen large driveway gates for a building contractor that did fancy mil+ homes. I got several gigs doing mobile frame repair- I straightened, shortened, lengthened and even replaced steel truck frame rails in situ.

    I bought a 185 compressor and built a pressure fed sand blasting system complete with supplied air and tear off lenses. I used it for about 20 hours and decided that was not the biz for me. Fuck that misery.

    One day a friend who owned a truck repair shop called me to ask how I was doing. He told me that he'd R&R'd the same transmission for the third time in 6 months from a big reputable builder. He said he remembered how good the TH400 worked I built when I was 17, how would I like to take a stab at truck transmissions?

    For 3 years I used my tools to make the tools I needed to repair and rebuild 3 to 5 stickshift transmissions per week. I paid for a bigger shop, 2 CNC mills, a CNC lathe, a better Bridgeport, a better manual lathe and funded the launch of 1/2 a dozen products from that transmission repair gig.

    I still do a few transmissions a year for myself and friends. That first guy who decided to pay me to rebuild his transmission again rather than get another reman at no cost under warranty from the big name builder showed up at my shop driving the truck with the transmission I built for him 15 years ago. He needed some machinework. He was pretty impressed with the different location. He still loves his transmission.

    I second the notion to follow opportunities as they are presented to you even if it isn't exactly what you want to do.

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  9. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garwood View Post

    One day a friend who owned a truck repair shop called me to ask how I was doing. He told me that he'd R&R'd the same transmission for the third time in 6 months from a big reputable builder. He said he remembered how good the TH400 worked I built when I was 17, how would I like to take a stab at truck transmissions?

    For 3 years I used my tools to make the tools I needed to repair and rebuild 3 to 5 stickshift transmissions per week. I paid for a bigger shop, 2 CNC mills, a CNC lathe, a better Bridgeport, a better manual lathe and funded the launch of 1/2 a dozen products from that transmission repair gig.

    I still do a few transmissions a year for myself and friends. That first guy who decided to pay me to rebuild his transmission again rather than get another reman at no cost under warranty from the big name builder showed up at my shop driving the truck with the transmission I built for him 15 years ago. He needed some machinework. He was pretty impressed with the different location. He still loves his transmission.

    I second the notion to follow opportunities as they are presented to you even if it isn't exactly what you want to do.
    I really appreciate your story. It just took one hint in that direction and you were off. I’ve heard similar a lot from the folks I admire. How they were plugging along and got hooked up with someone with a special need and fond riches in the niches.

  10. #28
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    Vendor lists?? Maybe not the best place for you. Do you want to be competing with better equipped shops?

    My advice is to concentrate on what you can do best. From what I read you're small enough that the customer is talking to the person who will be machining the parts. This can be important if you're doing prototype or product development work.

    Are there high tech startups in your area? Those were a good source of work for me when I started.

    Are there public universities near you? Many times they will have technology transfer programs where the intent is to get results of research into products. Great people to work with since most have zero experience in manufacturing design and appreciated being told things like 1/4-20 fastener doesn't need a hole tapped one inch deep.

    You might also find work from small shops where the founder is still working. He may appreciate your youth and enthusiasm and be willing to help you as others might have helped him when he was starting out.


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