More than a third of a century old. Precision Tech was formed more than 35 years ago by two young brothers, Tom at the age of 25 and Terry, just 20 years young. In fact, Terry says, "My father had to co-sign our business license and loan because legally you had to be at least 21 years of age for signature authority."
Though the 2 Van Otten's were, by all measures, far too young to open a business, they were experienced beyond their years in the trade. Before they were even old enough to work, the 2 helped their father in the repair of the heavy equipment he sold. Both had completed their education at a local technical college, learning the ins and outs of machining, welding and fabrication, and both spent their post education years working at job shops. In fact, machining was a sport for the 2, and they achieved National champion status in the Vocational/Industrial Club of America (VICA). The main purposes of VICA's contests are to document students' skill mastery, encourage excellence, and increase the competence of entry-level workers. Tom and Terry excelled in VICA.
"We borrowed $5000 to open our business", Tom said, "and we repaid our debt in less than a year."
Precision Tech continues to thrive after more than 35 years, largely because, the two brothers and partners say, "We've continually morphed our business." Tom continued, "Precision Tech opened as strictly a repair business, supporting customers in the mining, construction, and farming industries. We didn't make new parts in our early years." Aside from evolving its business model, it is clear that Precision Tech excels because of their experienced team, who on average have more than 25 years of experience. "One of the genius machinists we are proud to have on our team is our brother Kelly", Tom said. Terry continued, "Our loyal employees are more family members than employees."
As the company evolved, Precision Tech was renowned for its certified welding, grinding (ID/OD and surface), honing and manual machining capabilities. Because the brothers and their team are nearly all journeymen machinists, customers came to Precision Tech for their ability to support them with reverse engineering and design support. "We used to outsource all of our CNC machining to outside machine shops", Terry said.
There was one particular machine shop that performed exceptionally well for Precision Tech, and in fact, Precision Tech was its largest customer. That company was Swenson Machine Works, founded and operated by Rick Swenson. "We wanted to bring all critical functions in-house", Terry said, "so that the final product we deliver to our customers is totally within our control in both quality and schedule. We acquired Swenson Machine Works, brought Rick and his team into the Precision Tech team, and with the acquisition came a Mazak QTN250-MY turn/mill lathe and a Mazak AJV-18 vertical machining center."
"We've always been known for making some of the most complex parts for our customers, but weâ€™ve evolved into manufacturing complete assemblies today for some of the largest customers across such industries as medical, mining, nuclear , and construction industries, and as an example, the hydraulic cylinders we design and manufacture range from 2 to 36 inches", Terry said.
The Precision Tech team had no previous experience with the Mazak machine tool line, Tom said, but Rick and his employees were believers in it. The transition to the Mazak machine tools went so well that Precision Tech traded in one of their non-Mazak lathes, and upgraded to another QTN-250MSY Mazak lathe with a barfeed, and they also added a Mazak multi-tasking mill/turn center, a 5-axis Integrex i-200S. Today, the company owns 4 Mazak machines, and they have no need to outsource their CNC machining to any other machine shops.
Business in 2011 will exceed all prior years, Terry said. When asked what they attributed their doubling of sales over the previous year, Tom and Terry agreed it was a combination of factors:
- The new Mazak machines, which have allowed the company to bring on new customers, but more dramatically increased the number of products they are making for their long term customers.
- Increased control of all of the processes required to make parts and complete assemblies for their customers.
- The move to their new state of the art facility that looks more like a Fortune 100 office complex than a machine shop. "We more than doubled our capacity with this land and building purchase", Tom said, "from 10,000 square feet to 22,800 square feet." While Tom and Terry can't put a specific dollar amount that resulted from their move to their new facility, both agreed that any customer who tours their facility notes that they haven't seen a machine shop as clean and aesthetically pleasing as Precision Tech's.
When asked about their experience with the Mazak machine tools, and their relationship with Smith Machinery, distributor of Mazak in Utah, Idaho, and Montana, Tom says, "Our relationship with Smith Machinery is strong and growing. They do what they say they will do, and their support is everything we expect from our machine tool suppliers."
Terry continued, "You learn the value of a supplier when a problem comes up. That is the true acid test. We had a few initial issues with our machine tool purchase, and Smith Machinery was there to fix it for us. Our latest Mazak machine tool purchase was installed in one day, and up and running in under 2 days!"
Terry recently visited the Mazak US factory in Florence, Kentucky. "I was so impressed with their operations and their products", he said. Tom added, "We appreciate working with our Smith Machinery Sales Engineer, Klaus Lassig. It is a pleasure to deal with a machinist and prior machine shop owner. We get this in Klaus."
For more information on Precision Tech, call them at 801-285-7288.
For information on Mazak machine tools, contact Smith Machinery at 801-263-6403 or visit their website at www.smithmachinetools.com.