Great Lakes Automation Services Inc. (GLASi) was established only 10 years ago, but its roots go back much farther. The company’s Clifton Machining Division, formerly known as Clifton Automatic, was founded in 1938 by Harry Clifton and purchased in 1973 by the Podufal family. Today, Joe Podufal is president of the division.
The parent company, GLASi, was founded by Ken Fisher, Mark Fatica and Bryan Brooks, who had previously worked together at DT Industries and Assembly Machines Inc. (AMi). Those businesses produced automated assembly and test machinery.
After leaving their previous employer and starting the new company, the three principals worked out of their homes to solicit new business. Within a few years, they bought AMi and hired many of that company’s design engineers and machine builders.
Because Mr. Fisher is a disabled U.S. military veteran and owns more than half of the company, GLASi secured classification as a service-disabled, veteran-owned, small business (SDVOSB). That meant the opportunity to solicit business from companies that are prime contractors to the United States government.
“I knocked on a lot of doors and went to a lot of job fairs,” Mr. Fisher says. “Eventually, we started quoting on work for government contractors. It started out small and continued to grow. As we got more government work, people asked us if we do any screw machining. That led us to looking into the precision machining market.”
“Clifton Automatic was a customer for our assembly work,” Mr. Fatica adds. “It was a perfect fit for us, so we bought part of the company from Joe Podufal. With the purchase, we can now offer our customers even more services through the three main divisions: automated assembly and test equipment; packaging and kitting; and precision machining.” The company also recently started a fourth division—Great Lakes Auto Nation—to offer muscle car restoration services.
“The automated side of the business was doing very well,” he continues. “It allowed us to invest in new equipment for the machining side. We bought new Swiss machines to make parts used in the defense, automotive, medical and electrical industries. We also achieved ISO 9001:2000 certification.
“With the Clifton division, GLASi was also able to win more machining contracts from government suppliers,” Mr. Podufal says. “That includes military contracts. We meet all of the required military specifications.”
Every year, millions of Americans make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, stop smoking, spend more time with family…and the list goes on. Often, those who make the resolutions fail miserably because of a lack of willpower, as well as a failure to plan.
Now, ask yourself, “What resolution did I make for my business this year that will improve my company’s productivity and profitability, and how will we reach our objectives?”
You can start to address those questions by joining the Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA). Why? PMPA isn’t just another trade association: It’s a community of professionals dedicated to a shared goal of strengthening our member companies in North America to outperform all global competitors. How does PMPA help its members compete?
1) Online Collaboration. Instead of scouring Google trying to find reference material, join PMPA. Members use PMPA’s email Listserves on a daily basis to tap the collective knowledge of the association’s membership.
Listserve issues range from machining, human resources and information technology to quality systems, operations and management. In minutes, not hours or days, you’ll find the answers you need from a trusted resource—PMPA.
2) Translate Foreign Raw Material Specifications into U.S. Equivalents. There’s no need to hire an expert to convert foreign raw material specs for carbon and stainless grades. PMPA’s online Grade Translator makes these conversions within seconds, not days.
Think of the time you’ll save in responding to an RFQ while your competitors are still searching for answers.
3) Business Trend Data. Make better-informed decisions with PMPA’s Business Intelligence. Are you interested in finding out which markets are in decline, which ones are on the way up, and how you can position your company to succeed?
Would you like to know if your wage and benefit package is competitive across the industry or in your region? Armed with PMPA benchmarking data, you’ll have the tools you need to adjust your business plan for the realities of the marketplace.
4) Regulatory Compliance. Do you really know if you’re complying with the Federal regulations that are applicable to your business? PMPA members receive updates on the status of various EPA and OSHA regulations and how those rules apply to the industry.
The association also has retained expert counsel to assist members with compliance issues. If your company is not complying with these regulations, it could cost you thousands and thousands of dollars in fines, legal fees and additional expenses.
5) National Representation for Your Company in Washington, D.C. Who is looking out for you? As a small business owner, you don’t have the time or resources to actively engage legislators on Capitol Hill or regulators on major industry issues.
PMPA members have that representation each day through the association’s retained Washington government relations firm, The Franklin Partnership. Through your membership in PMPA, you’ll have a voice in our nation’s capital.
6) Networking Opportunities. Build solid business relationships with fellow members. PMPA’s network of cutting-edge shops provides members with access to many of the brightest minds in this industry.
Collaborate online. Attend chapter meetings and national conferences. You’ll soon develop your very own network of PMPA members that you can rely on. Member companies frequently share resources and sub out contract machining work to one another. So being part of the PMPA just makes good business sense.
These are just a few examples of how PMPA membership can help you keep your New Year’s resolution to be a more productive and profitable company in 2012.
To join PMPA, visit pmpa.org/join/ or contact Monte Guitar at 440-526-0300 / email: