Where Can CNC Machine Shops Learn from Other CNC Machine Shops?

At the Top Shops Conference, owners and managers of machine shops join other industry experts in presenting advanced strategies to grow your machining business. Here’s some of what can you learn from your peers.


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The goal of our Top Shops Conference is to present advanced front-office and shopfloor strategies that attendees can readily apply to grow their businesses and become more efficient in their shops. We also want to enable shop owners and managers (as well as equipment provider representatives, if applicable) to present and describe their own experiences in successfully leveraging new concepts, practices and technology. We think this will spur helpful conversations between attendees and presenters whereby ideas as to how to overcome shared challenges can be bandied about, too.

At the heart of this year’s conference, which will take place September 9-11 in Cincinnati, are the presentations from your peers. Here are a few examples of what is scheduled for this year’s event:

Successful succession planning.

Cheryl Larson, co-owner of Colburn Manufacturing, will join Tom Huberty, CEO of management-consulting firm Huberty Performance, to discuss the steps she has taken — and still needs to take — in passing the torch to her son and daughter. (Read about their planned five-year journey.)

Adopting technology, transforming shop culture.  

John Phillips, president of instrument and implant division for Phillips Precision Medicraft, will join Index President Tom Clark to explain how cultural transformation and investment in advanced technology go hand-in-hand to facilitate continuous improvement. Such investment at the shop has inspired employees to devise various new ways the operation can become more efficient.

What not to overlook in growing a business.

Jesse Schelitzche, president of Imagineering Machining Inc., will point to five aspects of buying a machine shop he admits to not fully researching prior to purchasing. These include customer base, age/status of workforce, age/status of equipment, current processes/organization and technology. Now, six years later, he describes how he would have done things differently.

Focusing on people, not profit.

No stranger to the pages of Modern Machine Shop, Aneesa Muthana, owner and president of Pioneer Service, believes leadership means much more than just running a shop. Her presentation will explain that leaders lead by bringing people together, regardless of background or differing opinions, and motivating them to succeed. She will also address the power of forming partnerships, and realizing that old adversarial relationships (women versus men, millennials versus Gen Xers versus baby boomers) are counterproductive.

Automating with cobots.

Adam Wiltsie, plant manager of Vanamatic, will explain how his shop has designed and integrated four collaborative robot automation cells since discovering cobots in 2015. He’ll explain how 3D modeling software was used to develop the virtual concepts, how the cobots were integrated and programmed, and how the shop trained human “cobot handlers.”

Working with the next generation.

Westminster Tool Vice President Hillary Coombs will share best practices from the moldmaker’s successful transitions from a group of skilled craftsmen that worked in silos to an inexperienced, cross-functional team. Its transition resulted in a 60% increase in per-person throughput in only three years. Ms. Coombs will also offer ideas for succeeding with a millennial workforce.

See the full conference agenda here


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An extension of Modern Machine Shop's successful Top Shops Benchmarking program, the MMS Top Shops Conference will connect leading machining and metalworking professionals to the people, the products and the processes that are moving manufacturing forward. It is an event that has been designed by Top Shops for Top Shops. Register here.