I understand that you had a booth at IMTS. What was it like this year?
A lot better than 2002. There was more optimism, with people saying they’re busy and getting busier, so that’s always a good thing to hear. I think everybody has a much more positive attitude about the economy and the way things are going than they did even a year ago.
Do you attend Gear Expo as well?
We do. Attending IMTS is a good way to expose us to different people than those who go to the AGMA show. We do a lot of work in aerospace, but attending both shows allows us to meet people in other sectors of the industry as well. And while we might meet the guy who designs the parts at Gear Expo, maybe we’ll meet the guy who actually runs the machine at IMTSãand he may also be the one who orders the tooling. So attending both shows really gives us a pretty good cross section of the industry.
What did you focus on at IMTS?
We go up to 180 diametrical pitch on our broaches, and in our shaper cutter line we showed some of our shank and disk cutters. One tool we showed is a multi-pitch cutter that can cut two different splines on a part in one sitting on a CNC shaper, as well as some fine pitch broaches and ring gears for planetary systems. We’ve also added master gears to our repertoire along the way, and we have all the inspection equipment we need to check them. So we’ve spent a great deal of money upgrading our equipment, and we wanted to let people know about everything we can do now.
How long has Broach Masters been in business?
My brothers and I started the company in 1978. The three of us started working for our dad when we were all 12 to 13 years old, sharpening broaches and running machines in a shop that he owned. So by the time we were in our late teens we were spline grinding and OD grinding and engineering the cutting tools ourselves. And then when dad’s company started growing in another direction, we bought the machines that we’d been running every day, rented about 1,200 feet of space, and moved out on our own. Mark is president of the company, and he also handles engineering and sales. I’m vice president, and I oversee manufacturing of the cutting tools along with engineering. And then Scott is also vice president, and he deals with quality control, the production department, and specialty machines for our own use.
Your website says “Broach Masters-Universal Gear Company.” Is that the result of an acquisition?
About eight years ago a friend ours by the name of Ron Muller was interested in selling his company, Universal Gear Co., which made shank and small disk cutters. Ron had been making shaper cutters for 25 years, and he was thinking about retiring at the time. But the good thing is that he came to work for us, and we’re benefiting from his expertise to this day. And it was a really great opportunity for us to meld our strengths in broaches, gears, and grinding with his in manufacturing shaper cutters for the benefit of everyone. We’ve expanded our capabilities to include up to 6″ PD disk cutters and master gears. We have been blessed to work with some visionary toolmakers, including Ron and our father, Don. They are two of the really great ones.
Back to the optimism you mentioned picking up on at IMTS, do you share that sense?
Yes, I do. I’m excited about this uptick in the economy, the growth we’ve experienced, and the potential this company has in terms of the future. We’ve been investing in new equipment, so we’re ready to take advantage of new opportunities in the coming years. It’s really going to be exciting.