A lot of the changes this shop made were a result of integrating a CPA mindset into a contract shop environment.
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When a CPA Meets a Machine Shop
Frank Burch II, the vice president of Southern Machine Works, was a certified public accountant (CPA) before joining the company in 2001 where he initially assumed an accounting role. Much has changed at the company since he came onboard, and a lot of that was a result of integrating a CPA mindset into a contract shop environment.
For instance, when Mr. Burch arrived, the shop processed everything on paper (it had just one computer at the time). In 2005, the shop transitioned to a computerized shop management system that now is the central hub for maintaining job travelers, job prints and the shop’s quality system.
A facility expansion in 2007 enabled the shop to refurbish its offices and install an environmentally controlled inspection room with a large CMM used for first article and in-process measurements. (Today, the entire facility including manufacturing areas is climate-controlled.) Gage management software was integrated to track operators’ gage usage for all jobs as well as to document gage calibration and related information. As business slowed in 2008, the shop used this as an opportunity to become ISO-certified.
Although the shop had purchased machines with touch probes, those probes were never used. Probing is now a big part of the shop’s process, and is primarily used to locate parts prior to machining to speed setups. Operators who previously didn’t see value in using probes now don’t want to run a machine that doesn’t have probing capability. Plus, every new machine the shop purchases has probing capability.
Finally, as a CPA, Mr. Burch was a member of the American Institute of CPAs, an association that enabled him to stay abreast of new accounting practices and strategies. After joining Southern Machine Works, he says he found a similarly helpful association in the National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA). Since joining the NTMA in 2005, Mr. Burch has missed only one national meeting. He appreciates the wealth of information he can obtain speaking with peers so much so that he drives three hours to Dallas each month to participate in chapter meetings. Mr. Burch is currently a board member for that North Texas chapter, too.
Southern Machine Works, Inc. is a third-generation precision machining and fabrication company specializing in CNC milling, CNC turning and welding services of small- to large-quantity orders. Conservative business practices have enabled Southern Machine Works to attract and retain high-quality machinists even during economic downturns. The average tenure of the company’s employees is more than 10 years with over 25 percent of its employees having tenure of 15 or more years.
Southern Machine Works has an extensive inventory of CNC machining centers that enables the company to provide a range of machining capabilities required to meet the needs of its current and potential customers. Supporting the company’s commitment is a fully enclosed, temperature- and humidity-controlled inspection room in addition to a fully climate-controlled machine shop.