Coaching for Injection Mold Tooling Perfection

In this week’s The Faces of Business Episode, our guest speaker was Brian Bendig. Brian is the CEO of Cavalier Tool and Manufacturing. The company is a mold-making company in the business since 1975.  Brian took over the leadership role in this second-generation family business 20+ years ago and has led the organization to become a global leader in the production of large tonnage (800+ ton) injection molding tools.  

Plastic injection molding is a mature component production method. The guest we had today, shared his experience building a company that produces injection molding tooling.

In this week’s The Faces of Business Episode, our guest speaker was Brian Bendig. Brian is the CEO of Cavalier Tool and Manufacturing. The company is a mold-making company in the business since 1975.  Brian took over the leadership role in this second-generation family business 20+ years ago and has led the organization to become a global leader in the production of large tonnage (800+ ton) injection molding tools.

The conversation of the episode started with Damon introducing Brian to the show. Damon asked Brian about the company that his father started and how he got it to this point. Responding to this, Brian shared that their company manufactures injection mold tooling for 800+ ton applications in the commercial truck, consumer, recreational, automotive and agricultural industries.

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Moving on, Damon asked Brian about his journey towards the mold-making business. To this, Brian said that he started early in this workaround when he was 15. This is because his grandfather was a blacksmith and his father started the tool shop.

Therefore, Brian also stepped into this line of work like this. Talking more about injection mold tooling, Brian said that it is a technique and a skill that not everyone has. Moreover, he also said that not many people possess the patience that this work requires.

Further, into the conversation, Brian also talked about the sales process of injection mold tooling. He said that initially, they used to go around in a car looking for people who had plastics outside their shops. This is how they targeted the customers and made their sales.

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However, according to Brian nowadays, making a sale is a much complex and thorough process. He also said that in sales these days you have to talk about things that matter, especially your prices. According to Brian in this day and age, no one talks about quality anymore.  It is assumed the work will be done right.

This is because quality is a must in every sale that you make. In addition to, sharing more about injection mold tooling, Brian said that speed is also an important element in this process. Not just this, but in the sales process as well.

The first thing that your customers demand is speed and how early you can deliver the task. Therefore, keeping all these elements in mind you can keep your customers happy. The conversation ended with Damon thanking Brian for his time.

Get the most value for your business by understanding the process and preparing for the sale with information here on our Selling a Business page.

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tool, people, mold, machines, cavalier, business, shop, automotive, build, talk, big, brian, racing, sell, molding, speed, fast, car, head, automation


Brian Bendig, Damon Pistulka


Damon Pistulka  00:05

All right, everyone, welcome once again to the faces of business. I’m your host, Damon Pistulka. I am just so excited here. Because with me today, I’ve got Brian Bendik from Cavalier tool. Thanks so much for being here, Brian.


Brian Bendig  00:21

You’re welcome. Glad to be here.


Damon Pistulka  00:22

Man, I am excited. I we’re gonna I’m excited for a lot of different things. First of all, I your the company that that you’ve been leading here, and your father started years ago is awesome. Personally, we got some fun stuff to talk about. We didn’t even get into yet before we got going on line here. But I’m excited. So Brian, just tell us a little bit about Cavalier tool, just a microchip of it. Brief overview of what’s going on with Cavalier tool and what what are you guys doing there, and then we’ll get into your background and a little bit more stuff. Sure.


Brian Bendig  00:59

So calculator tool, we are a often you hear the term moulden Die, we are dropped. So we build high pressure injection molds for the plastics industry. So traditionally, anyone you know, any plastic part that you would hold in your hand, be it an Apple phone, sunglasses, automotive, that anything made of plastics, we are a mold maker. So we would machine metal to create a form to which then you would inject plastic and come up with that plastic piece. So we are mold makers were noted to be from about medium to large in size. And from a physical company. We are, I think, the 26th largest tool shop in North America.


Damon Pistulka  01:36

2626 largest. So we’ll talk about molds, and injection molding and the stuff you build. Because man, if people haven’t looked at the Cavalier tool website, they need to go look, because you can look at the equipment, you can look at the other stuff, it’s just super cool. And if you’re a manufacturing and you’ve ever been around molding, you’ll want to check it out, just because you just got to look at it.

And I’m going to say at about 100 times because I really believe it. And I’ve spent a lot of time in the last month or so just looking at it. But Brian, the the thing that I want again, let’s talk a little bit about your background, some of your hobbies, because you got some fun stuff going on here. Now. You didn’t start out in the molding business, like many of the people in the in the mold building business, correct? Well,


Brian Bendig  02:29

I started early. So my grandfather was a blacksmith. And my dad had started the tool shop. So I did start as as a very young man at 15 years of age in the mold shop. But on weekends, Saturdays and Sundays, yeah, I did work through high school and into college. But as I got into college, I did split off and I and I went down a different path for a number of years, and then has since come back and back into the tool to tool trade.


Damon Pistulka  02:53

Yeah, yeah. So your dad Ray, I really sorry, I don’t have my show notes right in front of it. Your dad Ray started the business in 1975. So was Was he a toolmaker?


Brian Bendig  03:06

He was? Yeah. My father went to WD low here in Windsor, which was noted to be a trade school. And the the very first or one of the very first and very large shops was international tools. itl. Yeah, my father did go to itl. He started there. And at that time, he was the CNC leader. So he kind of run most of the CNC department at it. Oh,


Damon Pistulka  03:29

that’s awesome. Because I mean, you’re in people, if you’re looking at the website, you see is that stand alongside you in a picture on there. And I go, he looks like a toolmaker, because I used to know a lot of them, right, because I’ve worked in the molding industry. But it’s so cool that that and when you hear the stories of people that were your father’s age, how they were able to get their experience from a company and then start their own. It’s really something.


Brian Bendig  03:53

Yeah, that was that was very common in the city. There was quite a few shops. In fact, I don’t know the real number, but I would suspect, way more than half the shops here in the city. Someone in that shop, like we started in itl and branched out it was very common at that time that wow, pick the path and they went down their own path and it blew up.


Damon Pistulka  04:13

Yeah, yeah, that’s something. Well, we gotta go. We got a bunch of people in here and there’s comments like crazy. I’m gonna start flip. I’m gonna flip up a couple comments. We got somebody that we know here. Gail Roberson. Yep. She shouted out to some of the people in the Cavalier team. That’s awesome. Thanks for being here. Gail. We got all this See, this is somebody. I don’t know if this is somebody though.

I don’t think you were the first. I don’t know if you know Brian or not, but I do know Brian. Yes. There we go. Hello, Brian. And who else? We got Gail’s got some more comments in here. I’m trying to Oh, yeah. I think you know this guy. Yeah. Jim, yeah, there you go. Tim’s there. You got Matt goosey out of Wisconsin. That’s got a machining shop down there.


Brian Bendig  05:00

Well, I know he’s got under his right hand there. Yep, yep. Nice too.


Damon Pistulka  05:03

Yeah, he’s still he’s still clinging to the hope that the Green Bay Packers get in the Super Bowl this year. So we’ll see on it and anglers here. Thanks so much for being here. And then Jake Northrup out of the eye. Oh,


Brian Bendig  05:15

yeah. Yeah. Because our Minnesota representation for sales so nice, Midwestern. Nice. Yep, on Nebraska and such. Very good.


Damon Pistulka  05:24

Very good. Got lots of people in here. I’m sorry if I miss you, because we got to get back to Brian and some of the stuff. So Brian, I can’t help but not talk about your hobby. What are your hobbies? So you like the you like the race cars? I do. So tell me a little bit about your racing and what what kind of cars are you racing? And just a little bit about that? Sure.


Brian Bendig  05:50

So so I’ve always been what I would call a car guy. Back when I was when I was very young. I used to buy cars. And I would I would bring them home, clean them up and sell them. And I actually had a letter in the mail one time that I had to appear in the court and that was charged with curbside.

Yeah. And I recall going in and wondering, you know, what the heck is this curbside, and what it is it’s kind of the idea of owning or operating a dealership. The ownerships went through my name, but I didn’t remit the tax. Yeah, very young age, I was flipping cars and I you know, so I, I love cars, and I’ve had quite a few cars and, and you might expect that could drive a little fast. I talk fast. I want your business fast. I enjoy driving fast.

And we’ve been a car guys have had some Mustangs Camaros, got into the Porsches, different things. And I’ve picked up an o nine 911 Turbo and a good friend that is very much into racing. And his son is a is actually pro driver on the track. And I was instantly hooked. I went out there for a day and I could not get the smile off my face. And I’ve just picked it up. As it turns out, I’m pretty good at it. I’ve I’ve done really well. And it’s just total adrenaline sport. And it’s crazy. And I love it. I have no problem doing 150 mile an hour, four inches from another car going into the turn.


Damon Pistulka  07:04

Yeah, that’s crazy. That I mean, it’s not crazy. I mean, it’s cool. It’s cool, because I I’ve not raced myself, I’ve gotten plenty of times too fast. And on the track, I’ve even been able to not like that. But I’ve been able to do a couple experiences. But I got to believe that that kind of racing in the precision and the attention to detail that it takes. Actually, people wouldn’t really understand it until I was talking to a guy that was an engineer on the the Corvette.

What is it the 24 hour team that I had. And yeah, he was explained to me something about the the, the fact that the the fenders in the back, they make them a little bit narrower than the ones in the front, like by 50 thousandths of an inch on each side. Because you know, and I’m sitting there thinking to myself that a sport like that, where you’re racing those things, the attention to detail, and the precision in the driving in the equipment that you’re using, really helps in the injection molded building business because of the need for precision and attention to detail there.


Brian Bendig  08:17

I would agree. It’s something that you’ve got to be repeatable. You’ve got to be focused, you’ve got to be on. Yeah, you know, and it’s, it’s a challenge, but I really enjoy it. And in fact, it’s I come back after weekend aeration and I’m all smiles. I just think it’s the best thing in the world. And you know, the cheapest thing about it’s buying gas gas is really the cheapest thing in racing. Yeah. Before ship.


Damon Pistulka  08:38

Yeah, yeah. Yes. Yes. He used to have a custom motorcycle addiction. That was that was the


Brian Bendig  08:47

I did it in snowmobiles. I actually was a big I’m a big Stoneville I probably had over 50 snowmobiles and oh my I was doing some drag racing on the snowmobiles on I use and different things. And yeah, couple injuries and rollovers and such and then I kind of got away from that and got into the cars. Really?


Damon Pistulka  09:04

Yeah, it’s a lot. It’s a lot safer in the cars. Yeah, that’s for sure. We got some other people here. David Chrysler, I’ve got John Rubino we’ve got see there’s a whole bunch more here. And Gail, there’s just a lot of comments coming out. I’m going to try to keep people up when I can. But thanks so much, everyone for stopping by. Let’s see, I gotta get that one off. And off. There we go. So Brian, when we talk about it, talk about the the Cavalier tool, I think about a couple things. First of all, you’re a second generation owner of this business.

And one of the things that I do in my business is I help people figure out what what they’re going to do in their business when they’re ready to do whatever’s next in life. And and when I look at the situation there, did your dad talk to you before A time when you needed to take over the business about taking over the business, or was it your dad, it was just time and you needed to take it over for other reasons. And you just did or how did that that happen?


Brian Bendig  10:13

Okay, well, this is a crazy story interesting. So what it was is I was in another business and I was doing my own thing. And my, my father had been sick. And at that, you know, previous to me getting here, he had been sick, and it was in and out of the hospital. And as it turned out, he he had an autoimmune disease. And they had given him a whole bunch of drugs at some point to try to bring around to the other side.

And in doing that, it really it shot his kidneys. So, Linus, you come out of the hospital and require dialysis, so add dialysis and then got into the peritoneal dialysis. And this was every second or third day that he would have to do dialysis. And then he had, so it was kind of weird one day, I’m just I think it was at my house and my phone rings. It’s my dad.

And he says, Brian, it’s dad. And I said, Hey, Dad, you know, he says, I need to talk to you. He says, Find a quiet spot. And I really need to talk to you today. Okay? And it was him and he says, Well, your mom’s driving the car, I’m in the passenger seat, we got a phone call about 20 minutes ago, and we’re heading to the hospital. They’re going to do kidney transplant surgery tonight. Oh, they’ve got a match. They found a donor, I’m in for pre op. And I’m heading my way up. And he had said to me says, you know, I need to have a conversation, they told me that my chances of surviving are about 30%.

So this might be the last time I ever talked to you. So I’d like to I’d like to talk to you a little bit. And on that call, he had kind of said, you know, times are tough, the business has been very challenging. He says we’ve got a lot of CNC guys, we got a lot of engineers, we a lot of machinist, but we don’t have a mouthpiece. You’re a great sales guy. You’re a guy that can sell and that’s what he called me the most. And he says we need a mouthpiece. And I would like you to consider leaving your current career path. And coming back to Cavalier, and if I if I don’t make it, this is the last time you talked, I’m going to give you my half of the business if you make.

And that was really how that was what took an hour and a half to get to that. But at the end of the day, it was like, you know if you can do this, and you can pull through, I’d like you to take over and run the business because I believe in you, I trust in You. And I know you can do it. And that was really how I came back. And I came back in a sales role. And my dad did have the surgery, and he came out of it. We got you got nine years, nine years on that committee passed awesome years ago.

So it was a blessing. And I came in a sales role. And I really just started selling and about that time. Oh 70809 came around, and there’s recession and doom and gloom. And I just chose not to participate. I knew it was going I didn’t want to play in the recession game. Yeah, give a crap. You guys. Go put your head in the sand. I’m gonna go and sell some. Yeah, that’s what I did. I drove all over the damn place. And I just brought business back. And that’s really what I did. I wouldn’t take no for an answer. And I kept selling and selling and selling. And then we eventually brought the sales up and brought in some new people and reinvested in kind of grew it. And off we went.


Damon Pistulka  13:01

That’s awesome. That’s awesome. I mean, to hear to hear. Yeah, it to hear that the story of your dad calling you that day. And amongst all the emotions that would have been in that call. To put the faith in you like he did.


Brian Bendig  13:19

Crazy fall didn’t sleep a whole lot that night.


Damon Pistulka  13:24

Because I mean, he hadn’t talked to you about this before. And he just just said that


Brian Bendig  13:28

kind of out of the blue thing I was I was going down my own my own path. And you know, he’d gotten sick. And I think the realization was, you know, what do I do? I’m not going to be here, where’s this go? This was his business. At that time, maybe on trying to do the math quick in my head, probably 30 years or such. And, you know, he’s was grasping onto the life, the life raft, and he knew that he had to do something.

So it was a strange phone call. But, you know, deep down, I knew I could do it. I believed in myself. And I went into my employer and said, Hey, look, I know we talked about this this path, but I’ve had a 180 turn. And here’s what I’m doing. And here’s why. And you supported me said you got to do it. Go do it. Go to your dad and go make them proud. And I? I did.


Damon Pistulka  14:09

Yeah. That’s cool. That’s cool. That’s it. That’s a Ashe is awesome. I mean, to be able to, to to come and help. And then not not just that part, that part in itself is very cool to be able to do that. And I think as a father to be able to do that with a son would be, you know, mind blowing. But now, you know, that was that was 20 years ago, when that started right. 20 It’s 21 years ago, almost, or maybe even that. Yeah. So you’ve been able to take it so at that time, how many people were at the at the company?


Brian Bendig  14:46

I think we were we were on a decline because we I mean in the recession, and don’t hold me to it. I think we started maybe give or take 5560 people got out into maybe high 30s low 40s Yeah, and today’s were 230 some odd,


Damon Pistulka  15:01

there you go.


Brian Bendig  15:03

There you go. We really did turn it around. And it was crazy. And I just wouldn’t take no for an answer and just went and sold the hell out of the place.


Damon Pistulka  15:10

Yeah. Well, in 2001, when you were getting into injection molding, that’s about when I got out. And, and I’ve got, I’ve got to wonder, their events, so many technology changes in molding, so many. I mean, because I was looking at your website, and you know, you’re not just building injection molds, you’re building compression molds, and you’re building molds that are made for two shot molding and people that don’t understand molding probably don’t know are saying, but everything from a toothpaste to the interior of your car is molded, don’t remember, it’s all made out of that. And all takes a great big bunch of steel to to form that plastic.

Yeah. And so what have been some of the just the mind blowing changes that you’ve you’ve seen over the years, and you go, this is I just never thought this would happen.


Brian Bendig  16:03

So a couple things that stick with me when we think of selling or opportunity. So Windsor Essex is a, you know, border city to Detroit, Michigan, and there was quite a few shops that were set up here primarily because of the exchange rate. Okay, every US dollar at that time was worth, you know, one point it was like a buck 50. So a lot of a lot of shops kind of started in this area because of the exchange rate.

And then there was a very close proximity to Ford, Chrysler and GM. Yeah. So when we think about selling, or shopping, most tool shops would shop Michigan or Ohio, there wasn’t a lot of range. When I come into it, we remit it, you know, immediately like Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, we tried to go past that automotive. Yeah. And that’s why we really grew as a non automotive company. Today, it’s global.

I mean, we’ll take programs, the customer might be a German customer, but he’s got an assembly facility down in Mexico as an example. We talked to the Germans were P owed in American dollars and sell into Mexico as an example. That’s really changed. You know, the way we sell is quite differently. I mean, we used to get in a car and drive and look for silos, silos held all the plastic, you know, yeah. Older and, well, that guy’s got a plastic he’s got to need molds and and go knock on the door. And that’s how he did it today.

That sales cycle is completely different. Yeah, and we really sell on speed. So we act when some of these tools, I mean, they would take half a year to get the tools. Yeah, today, you know, we build the vast majority of our tools in like, 12 week timeframe. You know, we really like Nolan 876, when the hand sanitizers came out, I think we had four or five tools that we built in 15 days. So the automation equipment we have the just the firepower has really changed. The speed and accuracy is really just blown up.


Damon Pistulka  17:51

Yes. Because this is this is mind blowing. Because you had to build a tool in in in 12 weeks in the in the time when I was in I mean you just didn’t have the the data integration from the design all the way through the the tool like you do now that can control the machines and everything else through the CNC programs and everything like it, like it does today. But you speed is one of the things that you focused on in your in Cavalier.


Brian Bendig  18:20

Assume everything no one says take the quality out. I’ll take less quality. Nobody says that. Yeah, yeah. years ago, quality came up in every conversation you had. Yeah, years ago, not so much today. Nobody talks quality, quality is assumed. Yes, it is. You’re going to get a poor product. So we can’t speak to quality. Everyone wants to talk price. You know, less is better. You know, if I pay, you know, 100 grands one thing if I get it for 80. Well, that’s better, right? So you’re always fighting that that cost or that that sell price.

But the one thing you can really sell on is speed? Yes. Competitors at 16 weeks, and I’m at 12 weeks, I should be able to ask for more money, shouldn’t I? Huh? So we’ve really developed this thing about speed to market and building tools very quick. And it’s not that we get twice the price, we get a little bit more money for them. Yeah. And to build them faster. And in doing that, what did we have to set up? We actually run five different shifts here. We run five shifts.

So there’s days there’s afternoons there’s Midnight’s and there’s back to back Continentals. We’ve got days and afternoons and a design facility. We have three locations in India that we do a lot of design and product development and different things. And they run days and afternoons. So say you needed as an example 400 hours of design, and you worked 40 hours only on a day shift. Right? You’re 10 weeks to get that designer but look at me running a day shift here and double split shifts in India. We’re doing that design which might take a competitor 10 weeks you know we’re doing in four.

Yeah, and you know, put the firepower on the machine behind it. You can really get a lot of momentum. Yes, downside with creating a scenario is you tend to attract a lot of problem programs, programs that are off the rails or sideways or, you know, it’s always a panic. Hmm. So we do get a lot of barn burners, you know, are the guys come in and they’re, they’re all freaked out and panicked, and they need it yesterday. So that’s the downsides of doing what we do.


Damon Pistulka  20:17

Yeah, but to go that fast, you have to be very, very, your process has to be very sound. Otherwise you go out of business making mistakes.


Brian Bendig  20:25

Absolutely. And this is why people ask, why don’t you build end of arm tooling? Why don’t you buy fixtures? Why don’t you build this, but we’re not good at building all that. We’re really good at building molds and a type of mold like we don’t do, you know, multi cavitation tools like like toothpaste, cap? Yeah, 6400. You know, cavity tools, we don’t do that. It’s a whole different thing. Where to cavity and we do it very well.


Damon Pistulka  20:48

Yeah. Well, and you do big molds too. And that’s the other thing. When, when, when people and let’s let’s let’s talk about the size of a typical mold for you. Because if someone if you just guessed, what physical size or in weight of a typical mold that you build.


Brian Bendig  21:06

So small for us is anything under about 20,000 pounds, and norm is give or take, like 25,000 to 50,000. That is a big part of what we do. And I think last year, we probably built five tools that were greater than 80,000 pounds. Yeah, we’re actually craned for 50 metric ton or 110,000 pounds. Yeah. So think about how many Ford trucks we could pick up on a crane one time, like it’s, it gets pretty big.


Damon Pistulka  21:31

Yeah. Yeah. And because when you look at no people can see it in the pictures on your website again. But in the injection molding world, when you’re doing something, the biggest mold I’ve ever seen, was molding the inside of a dishwasher in one shot. And that was down in Tennessee, I believe as a Maytag plant at that time.

And you know, that’s, you probably what’s that we built a bunch of those for, you probably I probably saw, yeah, dishwasher liner is a 3000, I believe was a 1500 or 3000 ton machine running, and it was automated and all this good stuff. But it was it was really something and, and when you look at the kind of tools you build tonight, and like you said, you built some of those, those things are really the workhorses of industry in the United States anymore.

Because we’ve been able to if you look at if someone just goes in their house and looks at the inside of their freezer, their dishwasher, their their refrigerator, just so many different things are molding now, because of the size of machines have gotten so much bigger, and you specializing in that, and then specializing in the speed to market. It’s got a created a niche that you’re in, that you’re becoming known for over time.


Brian Bendig  22:42

Yes. Yes. So one of the things I’ve always commented or talked about is I want to be recession proof. Yeah. What does that mean? Okay, it sounds fancy, you’re recession proof. What does that mean? Well, if half the tool shops went away, what would make them go away? Or if I had to survive, what would he do, you’d probably want to be diversified. You don’t want to be in different products, you’d want to be able to track many, many different types of molds, or whatever that might be.

And we’ve done that we’ve got smaller machines made. And we’ve got very large machines, like some of our bigger machines are greater than 150 inches of travel, the whole quarter, 1000 pounds on the table. They’re quite large. We take big projects, little projects, we can take all these different things. And we’re good at it. And you’re right, we’ve gained a reputation to doing that.

And a lot of the guys like it, that we’re not a big automotive company. And most of in fact, all of the big shops are are predominantly automotive. I mean, they would have a portion that’s not, but they really are noted to be automotive companies. And not uncommon and it looks attractive, because there’s a lot of work to have a lot of tools every time there’s a new model of platform. I’m coming. Yeah. Well, so there’s a big mover to that. But yeah, very competitive in their global you’re competing with many, many countries, and the payments aren’t so great. It’s a challenge.


Damon Pistulka  23:54

When it’s cyclical to I mean, because of the automotive industry is down your business is down you you said it best when you talked about you want to be recession proof. I mean, you from your into this that the other thing I mean, if you look you’re doing like we talked about dishwasher components, you’re probably doing things for ATVs, UTVs, other, you know, snowmobiles, all kinds of stuff that you’re doing trucks and many different things. But that diversity, just something is always going to be going.


Brian Bendig  24:28

Yep. So we were very proud of the fact that we were noted to be a big automotive fan and tribe builder. So for the cars, you’ve got your radiator, yeah, you’d have the fan shroud and the physical fan to cool it. And we, for many years 20 Some years we’ve built we were probably one of the biggest fan enshroud builder in North America. We have not built a fan and shroud. It might be coming up in two years because everything’s going electric. So could you imagine if we said we’re going to be the number one fan shop builder, we’re going to focus solely on that we’d be busy Today, we wouldn’t be here.


Damon Pistulka  25:02

Yeah, that that is such a great point because niching down in some cases like that into being that specialist in in already kind of smaller industry. It really could kill you quickly.


Brian Bendig  25:15

Yes. And technology’s changed like we were a lighting supplier. We were very proud that we did headlamps and tailwinds for automotive and recreation in different products, of course. And it was really tough. And what had happened was the technology changed. LEDs came in light pipes came in, and it went into a global arena overnight. And man, the business just collapsed here in North America. And we were glad to not really be involved with that. There’s still some guys who do it, and they’re very good at it, and they build great tools. Just not something we’re into.


Damon Pistulka  25:45

Yeah, yeah. Well, that diversity, I believe, will really pay off for the long run and has I mean, you guys are now what is it? 46 years? 47 years? 46? I mean, that. That alone speaks volumes. Yeah. It really does. So what do you think? Okay, I gotta back up again, because I forgot to ask you one question about racing. Okay. What’s the fastest you’ve driven in the car on the racetrack?


Brian Bendig  26:17

I think my top top top on the racetrack is 262. Oh,


Damon Pistulka  26:22

my goodness. Oh, my goodness.


Brian Bendig  26:25

And Max masport. That’s the one of the fastest tracks in North America. And if you got to come on a five really strong. So you got to take a hairpin at about 100 kilometers an hour. And you got to come out hard to get that in the backstreet 262.


Damon Pistulka  26:38

Who? That’s cool. That’s cool. Yeah. And


Brian Bendig  26:42

I know it’s funny because we joke about that. And I’ve tried to beat that. And I’ve got cameras and all that so I can show I’m not faking the number. I’ve I’ve hit that number two or three times I have not yet been to 62.


Damon Pistulka  26:53

Yeah. That’s, that’s plenty fast. Yeah. So what So what’s the one thing that that you really don’t like about racing?


Brian Bendig  27:05

Rain, I don’t like I’m not a great wet driver. As it turns out, I’m not very good in the rain.


Damon Pistulka  27:12

That would be oacc. Those those distant traces, like the 24 hour stuff, like I was talking about, and I will admit, that is that is another difficult


Brian Bendig  27:21

thing as the tracks are all in my backyard. It’s not uncommon to drive sometimes. I mean, the closest track here, real track is, you know, four hour drive from there’s an additional four is eight, and then you get up to Quebec, it’s 11 hours to get some of these tracks. So it’s a challenge. And the good ones are always far away. Every state has one or two. Good track. So you’ve got to do some traveling. We’re gonna put some miles to get there.


Damon Pistulka  27:44

Yeah, yeah, that’s, that’s pretty cool. Well, Brian says, maybe it sounds like you need to tune up.


Brian Bendig  27:51

More power, just what I need is more power. bigger brakes. And yeah, Robert, right. It’s an endless circle. Here.


Damon Pistulka  27:58

It is. It is. That’s for sure. That’s for sure. So the couple things yet, before we before we wrap up here, it’s you, you’re look, you’re in this mold building business. Now you’re building these tools? What are some of the new technologies that’s really exciting to you right now in mold building?


Brian Bendig  28:21

Okay, so this, this is a tough one to answer, because there are quite a few and on different levels. So yeah, as a general statement, one of the big things is automation. And, and everyone talks automation. And automation means different things to different people. Yeah, assembly line for a car, you know, you automate that line. But in our world, I mean, there’s different sizes and weights, and we don’t think of it that way. So automation could be a larger tool changer. So you know, every tool is to cut something, well, you can’t use one tool for everything.

So then you know, you might have a cart full of tools will in base pass, there were no tool changes, and then you would have eight or 10 tools. And that was quite big that you would have the ability to cut, and the machine would automatically grab a second tool and cut and grab a third and cut. Yeah, maybe we have tool changes. Our biggest one I think is 233 tools. We’ve got 180s You know, 120s Wow, level of automation allows those machines to run all day, night weekend, right into Monday morning. Because you’ve set it up. There’s lasers for measurement.

There’s, the automation is a big thing. The second thing that is coming in really fast and has been is the computers and what you’re doing with computers. So everyone’s familiar with the word simulation, right? We simulate simulate, well, what does that mean, in our world? If you built something and it didn’t work, think of the cost and the time we’re talking 1000s of dollars. Yeah. Or if it didn’t work, we’re able to simulate a front but it’s an important tool to go to your customer and say, Look, you’re looking for this crazy, whatever. I know I can build it. And I can prove I can build and build it better than the guy next door.

And here’s how, and you’ll simulate that and you’ll show up it’s a hell of a thing to solo guy. And we’re seeing more of this. So we actually simulate how plastic flows, resume holes, you know, up front and our design, these things are important. And if you ask me where someone needs to invest in a tool shop, it’s it’s two sided. One is the machines, the CNC equipment and the automation of that. The second is the upfront engineering, I guess Achilles heel to most people is the engineering the inability to get the information through the shop in a timely manner.


Damon Pistulka  30:26

Yeah, so let that sink in a bit. Because it because two things, and you you you breezed right by this. People that haven’t seen an injection Bone Builders don’t realize that one component of that mold could be $50,000, and literally gazillion hours of machining and design in it. And when you talk about the way injection molds are designed and built to make it, you know, a plastic part come out the right size.

I mean, they’re shrinkage in the in the plastic and all the different things, the way the mold moves and comes together and all that has to be included in that. So the simulation software and the engineering on the front of it to make sure ensure it comes out right is huge, I’m sure in the size and the complexity tools that you’re building today.


Brian Bendig  31:16

Absolutely. And keep in mind quality is assumed. Yes. So when you’re building this, the customer doesn’t expect you hey, I made a mistake. I’m going to be four weeks late, like heads are gonna roll. Yeah, catastrophic.


Damon Pistulka  31:28

Yeah. Yeah. And that’s that’s the thing. I think you you hit it very well, there. We’re talking about the engineering of front because you can’t afford a single mistake. Correct. And that’s when I was talking to you know, I put up your coaching for injection molding perfection. I’m not kidding when I when I was saying that, because when we talk about perfection in in your business, the injection molding Bill building business, you don’t have room for an air?


Brian Bendig  31:52

No, no. And in days past, there was big margin because there wasn’t a lot of competition. Yes, today. If we supply quotes, and it’s easy to talk automotive, because we’re surrounded and most people want a car is we want all that stuff. You know, they would shop three or four shops locally.

Well, today they might price China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, you know, you talk about the Asian side, then you come our side, you know, there’s stuff down in Brazil and South of the equator, and south of the equator. Is that possible? And then we’ll have a look at Texas and then you get down to like, it’s everywhere. You know, tools from Quebec, all the way down to Florida. We compete with all of them. Like, sometimes like this year was our biggest year for coding. I think we quoted more than a billion dollars of tooling. Oh, my goodness, quoting, quote. Cuz you’re looking for opportunity?

Yeah. So the downside of what we do is we, you know, we were diversifying, we do a lot of everything. But there’s a fair amount of coding that goes into that. Yeah, so a guy that only does bumpers as an example, he’s just a bumper guy. He knows bumpers, he quotes bumpers, he builds bumpers, bumpers, bumper to bumper, so it becomes somewhat common. You know, the people, the designers, the engineers, it’s similar a, you know, there’s lessons learned, and that’s the niche, they go down. But downside is if you’re that niche guy in the niche goes away. Yeah. Yardsale.


Damon Pistulka  33:13

That’s for sure. That’s for sure. And over the years, you’ve seen a few of those, I’m sure. Yeah. Unfortunately. Yes. Yeah. As to read. But the so when you look at this, and you look going forward, he talked about the the design and that the actual the the whole process you talked about just just phenomenal, because on your website, you talk about this 20 to 30%. Faster, getting your processes faster. How much have you been able to speed it up? If you just had to guess from 10 years ago, until 10 years ago would cost take you how much time and how much is it now?


Brian Bendig  33:52

Oh my god, it’s hard. I don’t know how to accurately answer that. But we are. I don’t know if I’m lying if I say two times faster, but can Yeah, yeah, we used to we used to drill a hole, you know, and we’d say well, you could drill that hole at you know, 400,000 a minute. You know, then we were drilling at four inches. So in steel, four inches in 60 seconds. Oh god, now that we can do 21 inches in 60 seconds.

Oh my goodness, it technology. But it’s one thing to have the drill but you’re gonna have the horsepower to turn the drill. Now you’ve got to have the computing process to push and control the machine to do that. You’re gonna have fixturing the holds the workpiece to allow you to drill so aggressively. All these things happen. So you Yeah, you’re looking at these technologies all the time?


Damon Pistulka  34:36

Yeah, yes, no doubt. Because that speed that speed as you said that is key and and like when you’re busy, you can’t that quality is assumed you can’t make a mistake, but you have to go fast to be competitive and good and what you’re doing. So you’re always


Brian Bendig  34:51

looking for new technologies, and it’s kind of a funny thing. You know, like some of these drills I speak about they used to be just high speed steel. Yeah. And that may, you know, were inserted Where the tip was carbide. Now they’re solid carbide. So these small diameters, I mean, we I mean, 10 years ago, we had solid carbide reamers. It was a very small, like a three inch diameter. They were reading the hole at 1000 inches a minute. That was unheard of at the time. Yeah. And now we don’t really even dream holes, we drill so accurately, there’s not the need to go and read the whole.

Yeah, the processes have changed, you know, you would do, you would need 10 different machines to build a mold, you start on a rougher then you’d go to semi, and then you’re on the 40 million, and you would have this process. The equipment today is so good. You might only touch three or four machines, because you’re doing many, many operations on a single machine because of the flexibility of the machine. You know, you’ve maybe got the advantage of horsepower speed or, you know, rigidity, all of these things, you know, what it is allow you to be competitive.


Damon Pistulka  35:47

Yeah. And you got you have spent in Cavalier, you guys have a lot of specialized equipment, when you look at it. I mean, this is not stuff that you’re going to find at your local, you know, Hawes place. I mean, you guys have some head, like you said, to do the kind of things you do, it’s heavy duty, and it’s made for that purpose.


Brian Bendig  36:06

Almost all of our machines are custom built. So they’re SPECT. And a lot of times we use what I would describe as a boutique builder. So we are really using the Porsche or the Ferrari Yeah. Of the mold. You know, we’re not using the Haas which is like your Chevy Impala, yeah. work for us. It’s not what we need. Now, that being said, you can’t run everything on a Porsche because your sell price would be so extreme. But the circumstances are, if you’re selling speed or something, you need people to pay for that, you’ve got to find that, that sweet spot. So it’s a combination of things. And


Damon Pistulka  36:40

investing in the right equipment allows you like you said, you go fast you do it right. You know. And when you turn around and talk a little bit about this, you know, when you have that kind of company, as Cavalier as and you’ve invested in that technology and the equipment, I’m assuming that it does help to retain good employees,


Brian Bendig  37:01

it does. So a lot of employees look for, you know, if I’m going to have personal development, you know, what is that? Am I a better programmer, better operator? Well, anyone that looks at the newer equipment, I mean, if you’re driving, you know, a 1985 car to a 2005, to a brand new 2022. You know, people in their mind can associate the quality with that, well, it operators like that, if you know, my skill set, if I’m running a 1986 Kuraki. And I go across the street for a job, they’re like, What the hell do you know, you’re on a 30 year old machine.

But if you say, hey, look, I’m running late model equipment, there’s an assumed value or connection with that. Yeah, that equipment is important. And it’s twofold. It’s also for the customer. So the customer comes in, and he sees what you’re doing. He sees the high end commitment, you know, the commitment to these high end machines and what you’re doing, there’s a mental association to the quality of the speed, the accuracy. So there’s some mental checkmarks that started happening. And you tend to get some of those awards. So it helps with employees and retention, as well as customers. So it’s kind of the whole package.


Damon Pistulka  38:02

Yeah, that’s good. So are you guys having a fair amount of trouble recruiting people now they move, people are talking about the, the the great resignation, or whatever it’s being called. But we are


Brian Bendig  38:13

I mean, it’s very tough. So the city, we’re in the city of Windsor, and there’s, there’s quite a few tool shots here. So it is very competitive. There is a fair amount of work. So there’s a lot of employees going back and forth, you know, money, opportunity, different things. It’s been a challenge. And in fact, this year is every year we kind of designate something as a primary goal.

And this year, it’s the year of people, we really feel as though there’s an opportunity here and yeah, I’ll joke just very quickly, but I think you’ll get the point, you know, people talk about that generation where they, they want to come in late and go home early and work half as hard and get paid twice as much and jump rungs on the ladder. And, you know, some of the older generations.

We don’t want these people you know, it’s yeah, it’s the time they’re no good for us. Let’s change that thinking a little bit. What if you’re the guy that figured it out, and you offered some flexible shift or you created something that no one else did, and you attracted and maintain that that talent, albeit maybe not the generation you wanted, but you were successful doing it?

Might take the steps and go down that path? So we do public speaking I do manufacturing days, we try to attract you know, some of the younger guys and girls because, you know, everyone knows what a fireman does. Everybody knows a police officer does. A lot of people don’t know what a mole shop does. It’s kind of my job. I feel it’s my job to show them. It’s not big burly men beat metal in the corner with sparks fly. Yeah, tech fast. It’s really something and there’s some money to be made here. But messages, how do you do that? Well, we do it ourselves. We self promote. And it’s working.


Damon Pistulka  39:42

That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Because you’re right. I mean, I talk about this a lot. And it’s obviously part of why I wanted to bring it up is because I think we we’ve neglected a whole generation. Honestly of children by art, our thought process that everybody needs to go to to college, and that’s really the way to go. Right? When you look at something like toolmaking, you’d look at the career that people can create from that skill. It is far superior, far superior career lifestyle, they can enjoy then many other choices that they’re being told about today. in it.


Brian Bendig  40:23

And I want to add that women, a lot of women don’t think this is for them, right as a mo job, why would a female be and I and I disagree. We we were at one point, the highest employer of females, I don’t know that we are now because there’s been some shuffling. But yeah, what’s wrong with hiring girls? I think they’re fantastic. Yeah, I promote that.


Damon Pistulka  40:44

That’s awesome. Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s everybody, everybody should consider this because it is a great career. In manufacturing, again, I’m gonna get on my high horse about manufacturing. And overall, people have to understand and we got to quit talking to our kids that shouldn’t be going to college, about going to college, and we got to show them that there’s more ways to have have really good productive careers, and lives, if they if they go into technical trades like this, that can really help people that it just I just can’t believe we got Megan Zimba on here, she talks about this a lot.

She’s in Wisconsin, and she helps young people in in high schools, you know, go to manufacturers see manufacturers and really understand it. And it’s, it’s something that it’s yeah, it’s crazy. Mike’s talking about your manufacturing days. But that’s, that’s great if you guys are doing that have in the open houses, because I tell you, some of those kids see what you’re doing in your company. Now, every day. They’re going to be blown away, and they’re going to want to be part of it.


Brian Bendig  41:53

And it actually shocks me that our competitors, and not all of them, but some of them. I’m I’m surprised. You know, why don’t you blow your horn, Mesa loud and get into the schools and hell hits a lot of fun to do it. And I enjoy the manufacturing days. And it’s really that we’re creating and changing the minds. We’re creating this attitude that it’s better and there’s an opportunity there and I’m happy to do it. I really.


Damon Pistulka  42:17

Yeah, that’s That’s so great. Well, Brian, I appreciate you taking the time today. I’m so appreciative of just being able to talk to you about the business. Learn more about you. Just thank you so much for being here today.


Brian Bendig  42:32

You’re quite welcome.


Damon Pistulka  42:34

So if someone wants to get a hold of you, Brian, I’m assuming they can get on the Cavalier site and you’ve got to info at down there they can, they can get ahold of you. But I just again, so appreciative day of everyone listening, Brian bending from Cavalier tool in Windsor, Ontario.

It’s man, your company is cool. I got it. I just gotta say, take the time to get on his website and take a look at it. And before we jump off, I miss I didn’t say Kim Kim was on today. Hi, Kim and John biglietto. I might have said it before. Thanks so much for being here. Thanks so much, Brian, for being with me today and sharing your story. And we’ll be back again next week but the faces of business. Thanks, everyone for listening. Everyone,


Brian Bendig  43:23

I appreciate it.


Damon Pistulka  43:24

You bet Brian. Thank you.

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