By Sue Moore
The name of Craft Precision Incorporated says it all to its customers, according to long-time employee, Dick Haines.
“If you don’t like it (a part he has made), you don’t pay for it,” was the company mantra when it started 22 years ago in Schoolcraft.
In the early years, the company founder, Lloyd Sutton, and Haines were the only employees, both former Maro Inc. workers, as are several others now on the payroll.
“I worked at the company in the early years, moonlighting for Lloyd when he first started, while we were still at Maro, south of Schoolcraft on U.S. 131,” says Haines. “When we started, Lloyd would even deliver parts to companies to get them there on time.”
One of their biggest customers was Engineering Plastic Components (EPC) which made parts and sold them to Ford Motor Company. Now Craft Precision has moved in another direction, making parts for the aerospace industry.
According to Haines, there was a turning point in the business when Sutton purchased computer numerical control (CNC) machinery in 1993. It was a transition that helped Craft win business from Stryker Corporation. The medical field demands precision and cosmetic appearances, so the computerized equipment expanded the company’s capabilities, Haines says.
Their biggest customer these days is B/E Aerospace, Inc., a global manufacturer of commercial aircraft products. Craft makes trays, tables, doors, seat legs and other parts for B/E, a Tier I company that sells to Boeing and Airbus.
“They take all the liability, and mark up our product when they sell it to the big guys,” Rochholz says.
Craft is a Tier II supplier, using steel, aluminum, or other materials, cutting the specified features into the parts. They then assemble the various components into the trays or other pieces, supplying the subassembly that is sent off to B/E.
“We all have had roles in the success of this company,” Rochholz says. “What it takes is creativity and ingenuity. That’s how manufacturing can be successful. It’s important to keep manufacturing in the U.S. and not ship it all off-shore. The U.S. is blessed to have all three components of a strong economy; we make things, mine things and grow things. Other countries are missing one or more of these essential ingredients in success. U.S. companies are so intertwined and interrelated, so we can no longer think of having a corner on the market”.
No matter which industry they supply, the motto is the same, Rochholz says.
“Any number of companies can buy a machine and make parts, but we stress quality, a fair price and on-time delivery,” he says.
Rochholz is one of the newest members of the company, having accepted the job four years ago as head of production, quality and customer service.
There are now 25 employees and Steve Sutton, Lloyd’s son, accepted the leadership of the business when his father died of a heart attack in 2012.