Tell us how American Gear Tools came to be established.
Ken Nemec, president of American Broach & Machine, has wanted to establish this division of the company for quite some time now. We had discussed working together over the years, but I was with Barit International at the time and wasn’t ready to leave. The idea grew on me, though, so when I found out that it was coming under new ownership I felt a sense of relief.
I left Barit in a very positive way, even staying on to train their new engineer, who I still advise when he has questions. Once Ken and I had reached an agreement I put my house in Chicago up for sale, and it sold within two weeks. Then we were able to find a very nice house in Superior Township, Michigan, within a few weeks as well, so the whole transition has gone very smoothly. A friend pointed out to me that it’s almost like this was meant to be, in many ways. My first day with American Gear Tools was September, 8, 2009, and we’re already experiencing a great deal of success.
How did you go about pulling your product line together?
Not only have I spent many years designing and selling gear cutting tools, I have also used them to actually manufacture gears, so that gives me a real insider’s perspective on what works and what doesn’t. Ken and I worked to identify the very best manufacturers of the tools we sell, and we have a separate supplier for everything we offer.
Our product line includes a variety of hobs, shaper cutters, shaving cutters, milling cutters, straight and spiral bevel cutters, rack-type cutters, and spline rolling racks. The broaches we offer are manufactured by American Broach & Machine, of course, and our lead times vary according to the type of cutting tool a customer orders. We have really gone out of our way to make sure we’re working with the world leaders in each of these categories.
We know these people, we’ve tested their products so we know they’re of the highest quality, and we have good working relationships with them, which is very important in this business. It has been said that it’s easier to find 10 good customers than it is to find one good supplier, but I see it a little differently. If you find that one good supplier, then it’s much easier to attract the attention of potential customers.
Where are your customers found, and how do you approach reaching them?
One of the things that really drew me to this position is the fact that I would have American Broach & Machine’s established network of sales representatives to rely on. That’s a great resource for me because it allows me to focus my time and energy on advising our customers on technical issues to make sure they’re choosing the perfect cutting tool for their particular application.
We’ve already held a training seminar to equip them with the knowledge they’ll need to work with our customers, and I’m available to make calls with them when necessary. And these agents are located all around the globe, in places like India, Mexico, Brazil, and Singapore, and we’re already quoting many companies found in those areas and others. But whatever the source of the RFP, I handle the quote myself and respond directly to the customer.
This sounds like a great opportunity for both you and American Broach.
It really is, and it’s already clear to me how well this model is going to work. We’re very streamlined, and we have relationships in place with suppliers, customers, and representatives all over the world. And in addition to our extensive product line, we will soon be adding sharpening services. We expect to have a shaving cutter sharpening machine on our shop floor in the next few months, and the next step will be a hob sharpener and a shaper cutter sharpening machine. So I am very excited about what we’re doing here, and to have the opportunity to share the expertise we’ve accumulated over the years with our customers.