Q&A with Dwight Smith

President and CEO Cole Manufacturing Systems, Inc.


GS: Tell us a little about your own background, and how you came to join the company.
DS: I joined Cole Manufacturing Systems about 17 years ago. Prior to that I was a systems engineer for EDS, where I gained my computer experience, and then I was vice president of a measuring company that was involved in calibration and third-party certification, so that’s where I learned about metrology. During that time I’d met a fellow by the name of Tony Sullfaro, who was Cole Manufacturing’s founder. He’d been a process engineer for General Motors before that. We were in-laws—his brother married my sister—and we discovered that we were both interested in sailing. I was actually a crew member on his boat for a number of races, and you really get to know someone and how they react under pressure in situations like that. So I was very confident that I was making the right decision when he asked me to join the company, and we had a great relationship throughout the years we worked together. I started as a field support representative, installing software updates and modifications at our client’s facilities, so I really had to understand the software and the user interface before I could pass that knowledge along to our customers. Tony passed away about 10 years ago, and I’d already been made a partner by then, so I had an ownership stake and purchased the company from his widow.

GS: I’m impressed by the product lines you represent. Tell our readers about your portfolio.
DS: Cole Manufacturing was the first representative for M&M Precision’s line of inspection equipment, and that relationship has continued since Gleason acquired the company. We represent Gleason M&M in Michigan, Ontario, Minnesota, and Indiana. With our focus on the gear industry, that gives us the full line of gear metrology, from dimensions over pins gages and master gears to full automatic inline double-flank testers and analytical CNC gear inspection equipment. We also represent Gleason’s cylindrical gear equipment in certain parts of Michigan, and the Dr. Kaiser line of diamond dressing discs and grinding wheels. In addition we offer deburring and chamfering equipment from On-Line Services, Inc., Krebs & Riedel grinding wheels, ORT thread and spline rolling equipment, and the Asia Forging Supply Company’s line of forgings and castings. And while we have different territories for each of these manufacturers, we’re very fortunate in that we cover the very best gear-making areas in the world.

GS: I understand that Cole Manufacturing Systems also offers training seminars.
DS: That’s right. I was once a high-school teacher, so I really enjoy the Gear Basics classes that we present. At one point I found that our customers were pleased with the wonderful charts they were producing with the equipment they’d bought from us, but they wanted to know how they could interpret that data into improving their processes. So that’s when I decided to develop the Gear Basics curriculum. We offer one- and two-day courses, depending on the customer’s needs, and we hold them for one company at a time. That allows me to tailor the presentation to the client—using their drawings so that the information is accessible to the attendees. Gears are complicated enough without confusing the issue by using unfamiliar drawings, and we have everybody from machine operators to people in the engineering department in the classes. One of the things I really focus on is helping people understand a drawing’s requirements so that they can implement that data into the inspection. And from the course evaluations that I send out to each of the attendees, I can tell you that we’ve been very well received. I’ve also been retained by the AGMA to teach the classroom portion of their gear school, which takes place twice a year at Daly College in Chicago and has a “hands-on” component as well as the classroom portion. I get calls from people who’ve attended the classes I teach asking questions, and that’s when you realize that your efforts have been successful and you’ve become an important and valuable resource. Not only is that good for the company, but it’s a great benefit for all of the manufacturers we represent.

For More Information: Call (248) 601-8145, send e-mail to dsmith@colemfgsystems.com, or go online to [www.colemfgsystems.com].