Benchmarking Side Benefit: Gaining a Customer

JD Machine was a Top Shops Honors Program winner in 2013. An aerospace company that read about the award eventually became a new customer.


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We launched our Top Shops benchmarking survey in 2011 so shops could see how they stack up against industry leaders vis-à-vis an elite benchmarking group we establish from survey responses. Our fifth annual survey is now live at survey.mmsonline.com/topshops, and this article explains more about it.

Another element of Top Shops is an Honors Program that highlights successful participating companies in each of the survey’s four primary sections: machining technology, shopfloor practices, business strategy and human resources. Honors Program winners are profiled in the pages of Modern Machine Shop and on our website. Ogden, Utah’s JD Machine was a winner in 2013, and Matthew Wardle, company president, explains that the resulting exposure helped net a nice contract from a new customer.

Later that year, Mr. Wardle received an unexpected call from a supply chain manager with an aerospace company that was looking to expand its supplier base to support a sizeable, new program. The manager suspected his company’s current parts suppliers lacked the capacity and capability to support such a big program. Therefore, the manager sought to identify key traits that potential new parts suppliers for this program should have, including sufficient size, machining capabilities, quality systems, sustained investment in technology, the ability to measure performance and so on. In fact, Mr. Wardle says the manager used my 2013 Top Shops benchmarking results article to help refine the list of key characteristics. Because JD Machine was mentioned in that article, the manager reached out to the shop.

After completing questionnaires and hosting site-evaluation visits from a few representatives of the aerospace company, JD Machine was awarded a multi-year contract to produce 13 different part numbers. The contract also spurred the shop to add capacity with a high-torque VMC to machine some of the program’s challenging titanium components.

I’m not sure how many other former Honors Program winners have similar tales to tell, but I do know many have used the exposure as a sales and marketing tool. Of course, the information provided to all survey participants is valuable in and of itself, Mr. Wardle says. Some of the survey information he and his management team closely review include profit margin, sales per employee, spindle utilization and the lean manufacturing practices leading shops apply. They use the benchmarking data as part of their strategic planning and SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis as they set their annual goals.

So as we embark on what hopefully will be another good year for our industry, consider participating in our fifth benchmarking survey. And as always, best of luck to you.