Q&A with Kris Renner

Director of Operations at Slater Tools

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What’s a typical day like at Slater Tools?

A typical day at Slater is very busy and productive. In the front office, our technical staff is answering a constant stream of technical calls and application emails, helping solve customers’ manufacturing challenges and offering personalized support. In the shop, we produce hundreds of precision tools, both custom and standard, each day. In addition to fulfilling the needs of our customers, on a daily basis we are working to move the company forward, whether it is researching new technologies, creating new products, or integrating different manufacturing techniques to keep costs down and improve quality for our customers.

What products and services does Slater offer?

We have five main product categories. The one that we are best known for is our rotary broach tooling. We also produce spring-style live centers and screw machine tooling. Additionally, just last year, we introduced two new product lines: Ring and plug inspection gages, as well as punch broach tooling, which is another type of CNC broaching when rotary broaching is not a feasible means for producing a part. In terms of services, we offer custom tool design, reverse engineering, gage certification, tool repairs, and resharpenings.

What is Slater Tools doing to advance the gear industry?

We have been in business since 1951 and since then we have had a consistent customer base with small gear manufacturers using our rotary broach tooling. However, to use rotary broaching, the tooth height of the gear has to be less than 0.025 inches per tooth. We were turning away a lot of gear manufacturers because many gear teeth tend to greatly exceed that, which is one reason we launched the punch broach tooling line. Punch broaching — or single point broaching — is a way of slotting the tooth form on a CNC machine. The internal or external shape of the tooth can be produced right on your lathe or mill and create teeth that are 0.100 inches or larger in height through the use of our punch broach tools. It has really seen a lot of popularity within the gear industry.

Additionally, we started producing Go/NoGo Gages to help customers quickly and accurately validate their parts. Our gages are manufactured with extremely tight tolerances and can be produced to check internal or external forms. The inspection gages can also come with long-form certifications for those customers requiring that documentation.

What are some of Slater Tools’ proudest moments?

Of course the long history of our company and business achievements are important to us, but really our proudest moments are when we get calls from customers telling us they had great success with our tools or a new referral saying, “My friend has been using your tools for years and has nothing but wonderful things to say. I want to start doing a project, and I hear you are the people for the job.” Those are the moments we are truly proud of. Ultimately, nothing beats knowing that we are making our customers happy and hearing about their successes.

What sets Slater Tools apart when it comes to what you can offer a customer?

I would say, hands down, it is our customer service and support. We are able to provide the flexibility and service of a small company with the resources and reliability of a large company. We have almost 70 years of history in this industry and with that comes a lot of knowledge and understanding of customers’ needs. We are very committed to our customers’ success and satisfaction. We have the fastest turnaround in the industry and are constantly updating and creating technical resources to make sure our customers have access to our support materials whenever they need them. In fact, at the beginning of this year we launched our new website that is geared toward the support of our customers with new technical articles, product specifications, engineering data, and informative videos. We also have a great reputation in the industry as being a company you can trust, not only in the consistent quality of our tools, but also in that we do not have any hesitation telling people that we may not be the right fit for their application. We prefer to deal direct with customers because we like to review their applications to ensure that they are going to be successful with our tools.

Where do you see the future of Slater Tools?

Hopefully doing everything we are doing now and further advancing our technologies to continue to help our customers be successful. We will continue to research new technologies and expanding product lines to help customers get their jobs done efficiently and cost effectively. We will continue listening to our customers’ needs to learn how to best support and serve them. Additionally, expanding our international presence is in our future. For many years, we have sold our products to international customers, but selling globally on a larger scale has become an important objective of ours.

How do you move beyond North America?

There are plenty of hurdles when selling internationally: payment issues, export rules and regulations, language barriers, etc. Overcoming those hurdles ultimately means looking into creating a large international distributorship. Right now, our focus is on expanding throughout Latin America. We have started producing more technical resource materials in Spanish because we want to make sure they receive the same support and service we are able to offer our English-speaking customers. We have also added native Spanish speakers to our technical staff, and we are working with companies that do translations, so we have the resources to back the products.

For more information www.slatertools.com