By Sue Moore
While Steve Sutton and his team are seeking out new customers and planning for the Craft Precision’s expansion in Schoolcraft, it’s business as usual. Operations Manager Dan Harrison keeps things humming in the building on Lyon Street while a new building is going up at 610 Eliza Street.
Craft occupies a niche “job shop” market, specializing in high technology precision manufacturing and machining, according to its web site. Its staff can design and build parts with a quick turnaround as its specialty. Business has prospered in recent years and today the company is investing in its future.
The new building allows for plenty of future expansion while reorganizing the plant to achieve fresh efficiencies, according to Harrison. The current building began with 3,250 square feet when Lloyd Sutton started the business 25 years ago. Several of those employees are still around. Harrison has been there for 15 years. “You wouldn’t keep these employees as long as we have if you weren’t a great employer. It’s like a family here,” Harrison said. The company employs 30, with five new staff coming on board in 2015. The expansion anticipates adding two new employees per year going forward, he said.
Training new employees has always worked well for Craft, Harrison remarked. “We look for those who have a great work ethic and understand that the company needs to be profitable. We want to capitalize on our investment in technology with the training that our employees receive. Math skills are a large part of the basics they need coming into this industry. The rest we can teach along the way.”
Craft grew its current building with three expansions to add 10,800 square feet. With the move to Eliza Street, the company will have 16,300 square feet in a climate controlled, state-of-the-art manufacturing space ready for use this month.
Job Shops such as Craft, manufacture high-end computer-numerically-controlled (CNC) machined custom products through a defined sequence of operations, each requiring a unique setup. The operations and work holding are engineered to guarantee the process’ outcome, Harrison explained. “Our core competencies are highly cosmetic work, producing not just parts but full assemblies for our customers and flexibility with design changes.”
“We can create the part, depending on the complexity with computer modeling,” Harrison said. “Then we can manufacture the part through Electrical Discharge machines (EDM). We serve the medical, aeronautics, mining and agricultural industries, with customer service that is the hallmark of our operations. Stryker was one of our first customers and they have stayed with us all these years.”
Craft is still making parts for some of its earliest customers, Harrison said. “Our history with them has been the key to our success. We expect our customer service to be the key to sustained growth.”