While many companies lament the latest business burp to rationalize their cautious inertia, Dick Conrow and Rob Marr of C & A Tool Engineering, Inc. in Churubusco, Indiana, just keep on building.
Today’s Machining World did a cover story on the firm five years ago, showing a picture of their chalet-style office on the cover. I reached Rob a couple days ago and he caught me up on business.
C & A Tool is a big contract shop near Fort Wayne. They bought a 300,000 square foot building last year for expansion and are beginning to fill it up with production equipment.
They employ over 500 people in the area around Churubusco and Auburn. One of the hallmarks of their success is a highly diversified customer base. They are heavily into medical, particularly the implant market centered around Warsaw, Indiana, and they have recruited talent coming out of that area. They compliment the medical work with heavy truck, seemingly a long stretch from spinal implants, but the skills that a Cummins needs for diesel fuel systems parts requires a sophistication, going from prototyping to large scale on-time production like in medical manufacturing.
Today’s big push by C & A is in aerospace. The firm has ordered $8 million in large bore equipment from DMG/Mori Seiki USA. Marr says aerospace is a wonderful new opportunity because once you master the parts you can expect to stay in the production loop for a decade. The ramp up is laborious, but the consistency of orders is a cushion once they have mastered the component.
C & A held onto all of its people during the 2008-2009 recession and has established itself as a magnet for manufacturing talent. Marr says there are plenty of good people out there if you are willing to develop them, reward them, and keep them interested.
Much of the product produced at their northeast Indiana plants will end up in emerging markets, driving on the highways, and landing on the runways. Some of its medical products are exported because they have not yet been FDA approved here.
American manufacturing, using the best machine tools of Germany and Japan, is thriving in the cornfields of Indiana at C & A Tool.
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