Machine Owner to Machine Shop ERP Business Owner

Machine Owner to Machine Shop ERP Business Owner

Machine Owner to Machine Shop ERP Business Owner

 

Our today’s guest was a successful machine shop owner and now owns a machine shop ERP software company that helps small and medium machine shop businesses.

 

In this week’s The Faces of Business Episode, our guest speaker was Paul Van Metre. Paul is the Co-Founder of ProShop ERP. His company provides software that helps small and medium-sized businesses to run better.  Paul Developed this software while he owned and operated a successful machine shop business.  He sold his machine shop business and has been building his machine shop ERP business since.

 

The conversation started with Paul introducing himself on the show. He said that when he started his engineering studies at Boston University, he found it very boring. This is why he left that and enrolled in Western Washington University.

 

According to Paul, on his first day here is when he met his now business partner. After this, Damon asked Paul about his career in aerospace. Paul said that their work is much diverse while responding to this question.

 

Further, into the conversation, Damon asked Paul about his work at Magic Motorcycles. Paul shared the kind of manufacturing work he did for this company. He also shared that he learned a lot about actual manufacturing at this company and how they do it.

 

By the middle of the talk, Damon asked Paul about his Machine Shop ERP and how he had the idea of starting his own ERP. Answering this question, Paul explained how ERP people used to use excel and other related software.

 

However, according to Paul, no software was supporting the kind of work they were doing. This is why they decided to launch their own Machine Shop ERP. After this, Damon asked Paul about all the challenges he faces as a Machine Shop ERP owner in today’s world and post-COVID.

 

Paul said that in his views, the machining industry did not face much of a blunt as the other industries did. However, it affected some of these adversely. According to Paul cybersecurity and gaining new employees was difficult all this time and still is.

 

Damon asked Paul about what is a successful business in his eyes and talked some more about Machine Shop ERP. Paul said that a successful business is the one in which if the owner goes away for vacation for a month and just stays connected. This is when you also know that this business is worth a lot.

 

By the end of the conversation, Paul answered a few questions relating to Machine Shop ERP.

The conversation ended with Damon thanking Paul for his time.

 

 

 

Our Guest:

 

  Paul Van Metre

 

Paul Van MetrePaul Van Metre is the Co-Founder at ProShop ERP. ProShop is a revolutionary software for small to medium manufacturing companies, to help them realize considerably more profit. Apart from this, he is also a Board Member at Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance.

Before this, Paul was the President at DFM Partners. Moreover, he worked at Pro CNC (Trulife Engineered Solutions) for more than 17 years in different positions. In his first job, Paul worked as a Machinist at Magic Motorcycle.

As for his education, Paul has a BS Degree in Industrial Technology from Western Washington University. He also studied for one year at Boston University in BS Mechanical Engineering and then transferred to WWU.

 

 

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Machine Owner to Machine Shop ERP Business Owner

The Exit Your Way Business Round Table Live Stream

Transcript

49:55

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

machining, work, business, people, shop, talking, pro shop, system, companies, big, spreadsheets, pretty, machine shop, drp, owner, manufacturing, shop floor, design, aerospace, built

SPEAKERS

Damon Pistulka, Paul Van Metre

 

Damon Pistulka  00:02

All right, everyone, Welcome once again to the faces of business. I’m your host, Damon Pistulka. And with me today, I’ve got Paul Van Meter from Bellingham, Washington. We’re going to talk today a little bit about his transition from being a successful machine shop owner, to now he’s an E RP, software system owner, business owner and helps people with that. So, Paul, awesome to have you here today.

 

Paul Van Metre  00:30

Thank you, Damon. I’m really looking forward to it. You hear energy and infectious for this. This is just, yeah. I’m looking forward to chatting today.

 

Damon Pistulka  00:39

All right. Well, we’ll see how it goes. Yeah, I just I get excited about manufacturing man, I tell you, from the from the first time I was I stepped foot into a plant. I knew that that’s that’s where I wanted to be.

 

Paul Van Metre  00:52

I can tell talking just before we had go talking shop and yeah,

 

Damon Pistulka  00:57

yeah, yeah, it’s fun. It’s it’s fun stuff. And, and, you know, I think you got a cool story, man, just because of the fact that you, you came out to the west coast to go to college, you met some people in college, you started a business. And that turned into one thing turned into another. So really great. Tell me a little bit about that. Tell us a little bit about the background and kind of, you know, what led you to where you’re at today, or at least through part of that. And we’ll ask more questions.

 

Paul Van Metre  01:29

Sure. Yeah. So I was, as we also talked about very ago, I was actually studying engineering in Boston, and it was kind of dry, didn’t love it. And then I read about this very hands on automotive program in Washington. And I, I told my mom, I said, that’s, that’s where I’m moving. I’m transferring over to Washington. And so I went there. First very first class that I took, I met my business partner, Kelsey, we were tearing apart motorcycle engines and rebuilding them and get them to run again.

And, and just fell in love with with working hands on built. That program also had a ton of had a full on machine shop in it. So we got to design and build racecar parts for all these college competitions. And just really just loved working together, loved making stuff and decided to start a company started a shop right out of college. So another partner, actually, Kelsey, his older brother was also taking classes and he took out a second mortgage on his house.

And that’s the money we use to buy a house via four and a manual milling lathe and started knocking on doors looking for work. So we’ve all right, you’re pretty dumb. How much business that’s for sure. But it worked out. All right. Yeah.

 

Damon Pistulka  02:49

Yeah. Well, that’s cool. Because, you know, you you listen to so many people that start businesses and and it is the desire to do something. And that desire overwhelms your sometimes, and I’m not using the right words, but your your, your notion that I shouldn’t be doing this for a lot of

 

Paul Van Metre  03:09

real common sense. Yeah,

 

Damon Pistulka  03:10

common sense, common sense, or practical reasons why I shouldn’t do it. But knowing that you’re going to succeed or you’re gonna you’re gonna die try and you know, and yeah, just the belief that you can do it.

 

Paul Van Metre  03:22

I know, we had some we had some people say, you know, you should go into work in industry for a few years and then start a business. And we’re like, no, we’re just gonna go for it right now. There’s nothing. There’s nothing to lose. Except maybe his house. But yeah, he was brave.

 

Damon Pistulka  03:37

Yeah. Well, that’s, that’s awesome. So you guys were in that for for quite a while

 

Paul Van Metre  03:42

then. We had that shop for 17 years in total. Yeah. Wow. Were we before we sold it?

 

Damon Pistulka  03:48

So 17 years now? Yep. The changes from beginning to end had to be massive.

 

Paul Van Metre  03:56

Well, sure. Yeah. I mean, we started with one machine and just, and just a handful of us. And then yeah, by the time we finished, we had I think over 30 CNCS and about 75 people running three shifts and doing not only machining work, but we were also as 9100 for engineering and design work. So we did a lot of design projects for some of the primes. And we made cool machines and mechanisms and fixtures for for Northrop Grumman and lots of fun stuff. Oh, yeah.

 

Damon Pistulka  04:33

Yeah. So was your were you guys doing a fair amount of just design kind of stuff for the aerospace or were you doing limited production stuff too? Or, oh,

 

Paul Van Metre  04:45

we were pretty diversified. I mean, we were probably about 60 70% aerospace But okay, wide range of clients. But I’d say our, you know, revenue wise, our biggest was our production machining. Yeah. But then we had a completely totally separate value stream dedicated prototyping department quick turn different people different machines. Yep. Just doing quick turn one off jobs. And then we had our, our design engineering team small team two or three designers and people doing assembly work and building all that stuff. Yeah. Which fed into production and prototype machining as well. Of course to support that.

 

Damon Pistulka  05:26

Were there any specific areas like, you know, part of a piece of equipment or part of a plane or Yeah,

 

Paul Van Metre  05:33

we mostly worked on the Joint Strike Fighter 3035, supporting Northrop in Palmdale, California. And we made two major, actually three different major kind of assembly designs, one was a big mechanism that took a piece of tooling and placed it up into the airplane partway along the line. So that was that had electric motors and it was all a big weldment.

And it had this neck, this mechanical kind of path that it would feed up in there, we made a pretty cool, like really fancy bandsaw that was using a reciprocating carbon or Diamond Coated blade that would actually cut the leading edge out of a damaged wing. So if it had like a bird strike or something that Yeah, you know, damage the honeycomb core, we cut out a section of that, and then they replace it.

And then and then the one that was like, sort of the biggest program that turned into actually, and is still ongoing with our company we sold is a jig to hold the the intake duct of the of the engine, or the the frame that leads in the engine, holding that round as it’s transported from California to Texas. Yeah, so we’ve made they’ve made dozens of those that are just rotating tools that they’ve put them in there.

Because they found when they were shipping them to Texas, they would end up coming out around, so they wouldn’t all fit together nicely with the engines. So we designed this pretty neat mechanism that had cams and, and certain and it was it would insert and then they’d lock it into place. And then they’d ship it on a truck. And it would end up around when they arrived there. So anyway, that’s just fun going down on the production line. And yeah, you know, talking to engineers and, and people on the line is really fun

 

Damon Pistulka  07:26

on people. If you’re not in manufacturing, and specifically in in machining, and like you were doing in the design work there, you don’t realize how much of that type of equipment there is for a given plane, or a given. There’s so much of it. I mean, one of the companies that I had run while ago now, I mean, like we did the and this was a couple companies before I was done, we actually made the tooling that did the first carbon fiber, ribs in the 787.

So they were big, like, I don’t know, seven eight feet, circular things five axis they were welded play into their tooling size, and then five axes surface machine and, and they all had to be vacuum, you know, called vacuum and stuff, and that kind of stuff. And then we did some of the wings strat work for or not the wing but the motor mount the big aluminum motor mounts for and yeah, it’s just it’s just so interesting when you look at what goes into those kinds of things and those programs and and really, like you’re saying that motor, the motor cell or whatever it was that you’re keeping straight.

Yeah, the the it’s amazing the amount of effort that goes into something like that, just that one piece keeping it good. Because it probably started as a solid billet of aluminum or if it was carbon fiber, whatever it was, it was a lot of care went into making it and not having to touch it at all. And just slide it right onto the plane is very important.

 

Paul Van Metre  09:06

Oh, yeah. And it had to be inspected with lasers. And and you know, make sure Yeah, perfect. And yeah, that’s it. And that’s what’s so fun about manufacturing, you’re just solving these real world problems, being creative, coming up with solutions, and then making them happen,

 

Damon Pistulka  09:21

that’s for sure. That’s for sure. And and you still get the get to mess with that too. And we’ll get into that a little bit. So I saw a couple interesting things in your background, though. It said that you You did a little machining for a place called Magic motorcycle now what kind of stuff were you doing there was this was this? I mean, it was in the time of the custom motorcycle area era when you were doing this. So

 

Paul Van Metre  09:45

yeah, that was actually that was a father and son sort of family run yes down on Whidbey Island. And we met them because the sun came up and did some kind of coaching on machining because he was a really, really Incredible machinist and programmer but now they had they actually did a lot of weird things. They did make motorcycle like really kind of custom motorcycle stuff. single sided front front, swing arms and stuff even before anyone else was doing that. But they actually they also they kind of made the bulk of their money.

I wouldn’t say those were money making projects, but the main thing they did was they got tied in with Cannondale Cannondale, the bike company and made 1000s and 1000s of crankarms and really cool billet machined parts for Cannondale bikes. Yeah. So anyway, that was, that was quite a learning experience. Yep.

 

Damon Pistulka  10:41

Yep. That is,

 

10:42

that is cool thing stuff.

 

Damon Pistulka  10:44

Yeah, I had an opportunity at a friend of mine that was a general manager at one of the motorcycle shops in that timeframe that they were making air suspension systems and, and other end they made high end custom motorcycles to and that I saw that I thought that was pretty interesting, because there was a, go ahead,

 

Paul Van Metre  11:03

I’m sorry, they even made their own engines. And this imagine this is actually it was a modular V engine design could be a V twin, V four, V six, or V eight. Now the eight cylinders were using airplanes. Crazy. And these were massive volume, really low RPM, like 2000 RPM, 800 cubic inch engines on the earth right here, the airplane version. And these were totally billet machined, and programmed via 100% g code back way back in the day before they hit Oh, my god, it was unbelievable. It’s one of the most complex parts I’ve ever seen. And it was all hand g coded.

 

Damon Pistulka  11:42

Wow,

 

Paul Van Metre  11:42

the guy was the guy was a genius. For those of people that are listening,

 

Damon Pistulka  11:45

that don’t know machine that’s like, you know, making windows, it, you know, with a typewriter. I don’t know what I don’t know how to explain it. But that’s, that’s not something that you normally would just step out and do. This, it’s good stuff. It’s good stuff. Well, you know, like you said, machining is such a machining, manufacturing. In general, the problem solving that goes into it is is so unique.

And it’s so challenging. And I think that’s why a lot of people get into it. And one of the things that I always like to talk about when I’m talking about manufacturing in general, is, I hope that a couple of kids that are in high school, hear us talking today, and something interests them about it, because there are so many kids that graduate from high school, that may not want to go to a four year degree, get a four year degree, may not even want to go to a vocational school.

But I always like to let those kids know that man manufacturing is a good place to work. It’s find work and manufacturers and the manufacturers need people that have that can come with their minds, their hands, and their skills, and they can build some of the coolest stuff they’re ever gonna be able to see if they do that.

 

Paul Van Metre  13:03

Yeah, and you’re right, those manufacturers need them badly. Yes. You know, there’s such high demand for for people that want to get into this trade.

 

Damon Pistulka  13:12

Yes. And and it’s, it’s too bad that I think there are some places where they do a much better job than others. But I always like to mention it because I saw a lot of my son’s friends that you know, that they weren’t they didn’t want to go to college. And that’s cool. That’s and they didn’t want to go to vocational school. That’s cool. And you see him taking some jobs that you go listen. I mean, manufacturing jobs are not low paying jobs.

 

Paul Van Metre  13:36

No, not even a little bit.

 

Damon Pistulka  13:40

So it’s, it’s it’s something where and you know, it’s typically you’re not outside like in a construction environment and any and all the the hours are steady and plentiful, usually. So yeah,

 

Paul Van Metre  13:53

yeah. But it’s, it’s Yeah, we were really fortunate to work with a couple of school programs. In fact, we just published a video for the first time today, online with one of our it’s a high school machine shop program. It’s a business run by the students, the machine shop business. And we donate a pro shop to them and they’re they’re coming out of that program with programming and machining skills. And I even had another customer that’s in the same geographic area, reach out and say, Hey, I just learned about this and I want to recruit those students. So can you connect me with the advisor?

 

Damon Pistulka  14:28

Yeah. So what and that’s, that’s honestly, those those kids that have just a little starter skill like that. They can go walk right in and people will will welcome them with open arms. Absolutely. It’s it’s they need it. That’s awesome. So where’s that at?

 

Paul Van Metre  14:47

That’s in that’s in there, Indianapolis. So this girl is Brown County High School. The program is called Eagle manufacturing. And yeah, we can share the actually I could share the link If I share a link on this, will it go out on on LinkedIn?

 

Damon Pistulka  15:03

It won’t, but I will put it out. I can do it. I can do it. So you share it in here. It’ll hit Facebook and I’ll take it and move it into LinkedIn. But yeah, this is that. It’s so cool. When when I hear programs like that, because it just, it just more needed. It’s needed so badly. And and the manufacturers like you said, are so looking like, Matt goosey a guy in Wisconsin or

 

Paul Van Metre  15:32

us? Yeah,

 

Damon Pistulka  15:32

yeah. Mrs. He said he had turn around a million dollars worth of work a couple of weeks ago, because he didn’t have people he can’t hire people. It’s like, what the heck that’s, that’s a lot of that’s a lot to not not to be able to. It’s makes you sick. It just makes me so. Yeah. So

 

Paul Van Metre  15:49

I’m at the rally.

 

Damon Pistulka  15:51

Yeah, the the There we go. I dropped the link in on LinkedIn there. So if you want to see the the Brown County High School machining program, that’ll be right in there. So I go to good. Well, Paul, so you guys have your machine shop, you get to a certain point. And you go, What? What ever possessed you to go? Let’s write our own eirp system.

 

Paul Van Metre  16:20

Yeah, so it certainly was not ever. Like when we when we you know. So keep in mind when we started our shop straight out of college, like the only jobs we’d ever have is like delivering pizza, right? We didn’t know any, we didn’t know anything. You certainly didn’t know what DRP software was. So we just started using, you know, QuickBooks and Excel spreadsheets, right? So we had in my partner Kelsey, pretty good with Visual Basic. And he made some pretty fancy of macros, and that we would spawn worksheets and workbooks, and clone them and make work orders. And, and so as we were doing that we started.

And we wanted to be paperless from from day one in our shop. So we had CRT monitors out at the machines with a computer connected there, and we would pull up our spreadsheets and do our work. But we really focus, you know, as a shop, what mattered, you know, probably more than anything to us was execution on the shop floor, right? Getting our setups to go fast and smooth, making good quality parts and making sure you know, everything was within tolerance, keeping organized and making sure we just had good systems and processes to make the shop floor efficient.

So we built all sorts of spreadsheets that did things like manage our cutting tools, and do our first article and in process inspection plans and execute those. And we even had sheets with all of our work instructions and our zero, our xy zeros and G 50 fours and all those things. And so when we, about three years later, we were we had about a dozen employees, and we were growing pretty quickly. And Excel was just not going to scale with us it was becoming too cumbersome. So we started doing research for shop GRP. And as we started getting sales demos and talking to these companies, we’d be like, Okay, show us how you do all these things that we do on spreadsheets.

And they’re like, No, we don’t do any of those things, you know, that we don’t really do the shop floor, like we do the office, and we can do your accounting and yeah, purchasing, but you’re kind of it’s kind of up to you, you know, we can print off a paper traveller. And then you you know, from that you, you can log in or do whatever, but But anyway, so it. So we were just really disappointed, actually that none of them were doing the kind of things that we were doing, and we needed to do to keep our shop efficient. So yeah, we just decided, rather than still have lots of spreadsheets plus their software, we would just find a developer and just build something for ourselves.

And so we found this guy named Matt, who was a friend of my partners, and we hired him to to basically write what we wanted it to look like, and didn’t intend to sell it to anyone for sure. It was just strictly an in house tool. And, but we just developed it over the years. About four years later, we went for ISO certification. And so we built all the QM s modules. Two years after that, we got as many 100 and we built more QoS modules and more features to help pass the S 9100 certification. And just kept going like that just building more stuff.

And it wasn’t until about 2008 that our biggest machine shop customer who had seen pro shop many many times because one of their employees came in moonlighted on the weekends getting some extra work at our shop. Yeah, he went back to the owners and he said you got to see the system they have and then they approached us and asked us to sell it to them. And initially we said no we you know we wasn’t for sale. We’re just a machine shop and yeah, but We eventually gave it a shot. And the results they got just blew us all away. And that’s really when the light bulb went off that this is probably more important than making parts. Yeah,

 

Damon Pistulka  20:10

yeah. So it’s, it’s interesting your approach, though, because you rather than like, virtually all the other systems who started off in accounting, and they got into the manufacturing because they knew they had to be able to sell the manufacturers and kind of cobble that together, you started in manufacturing, where you really can help to make money for a business,

where a business makes money is exactly and work your way back from the floor and organizing that and doing that because the things like you’re saying with the QM s and you were talking about the, you know, the all of the storing the first article data and storing the in process data, and just having it there at the machine, and have an easy to input or, or in a quality department, wherever the heck there they need to be putting it in, or direct interface to I’m sure that you guys are now interfacing with digital equipment and stuff like that to correct.

 

Paul Van Metre  21:12

Yeah, if you’re measuring with an SBA caliper or mic, you can hit the button, and it’ll feed the results and approach up and it’ll instantly validate it and tell you whether that’s a good result or not. And it will not, it’ll say, hey, do you want to make an NCR and it makes the NCR and then it alerts the QA department that an NCR was just made? And yeah, and we were doing that, you know, back in 2004. Oh, my

 

Damon Pistulka  21:34

goodness, that is crazy. Cool. Because, you know, I personally was in businesses where spent, you know, two to $500,000, putting equipment DRP systems in, and they could do none of that. Right? I could do none of that. And, like, we

 

Paul Van Metre  21:51

were really lucky that this guy, Matt, that we hired a who was a web developer to begin with. So we were web based from day one back in 2000, when that was pretty early days for web applications. And he was just really, really good. And then yeah. And then we had our whole team, telling him what they wanted it to do. Because they’re using it all day, every day. Yeah, it was just a really good close loop to iterate,

 

Damon Pistulka  22:20

yeah, rapidly make changes, see how it works and get it going. So now as you go forward, and you see this, and you see the application? What what are some of the biggest challenges that you see as, as machine shop owners are, are coming into today’s environment? What are some of their biggest challenges that are that a that they’re seeing in general? And then you’re seeing that the MRP system really helps them with?

 

22:50

You mean new shop owners or or just shop or just existing

 

Damon Pistulka  22:54

shop owners itself? I mean, what are some of the industry challenges right now out there? I mean, we, we went through COVID. I don’t think a lot of machining shops are really horribly affected by that. But what are what are the

 

Paul Van Metre  23:08

things? The ones that were doing commercial aerospace were definitely affected? Yes. Yeah. And they were and those that were in the Boeing ecosystem with the 737. Grounding. We’re already having a tough time.

 

Damon Pistulka  23:21

Yeah, that’s true.

 

Paul Van Metre  23:23

That was pretty tough on some of them, but but so I mean, for some, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s keeping busy, you know, diversified sales, a lot of see a lot of shops that just have like, an incredibly high, you know, like, Yeah, one of our customers is 85% of our business. And like, Oh, that’s a dangerous place to be. But I’d say in bigger picture. Obviously, finding employees is really hard. Like you were talking about Matt, Matt from Mrs. Turning away work because you just don’t have enough capacity. cybersecurity is becoming more and more crucial, especially those shops in the defense business. Yeah, there’s the new cmmc standard that’s coming down the pipeline hard and fast.

Yep, that will require third party certification for their cybersecurity, maturity. And then there’s also a lot of I mean, kind of in what you do, there’s a lot of shop owners that are getting on towards retirement and thinking about what they want to do with their business next, either passing it to their kids or selling it all together or to their to their employees. And I think a lot of them and you and I have talked about this a little before, a lot of them are going to be in for a rude surprise about their business isn’t worth as much as they think it should be. Partly because of the lack of systems they’ve not built in their company.

 

Damon Pistulka  24:50

Well, you had mentioned this before, the when we are talking about how a good year p system or And years where yours extends past that into the QM medicine and the things beyond that, I mean, provides a scalable backbone for your, for your shop floor and for your business overall. And that’s one of the things that as we were kind of giggling about using spreadsheets for the travelers, you know, that’s really not a scalable thing, because that means that, you know, if the paper gets lost or someone to you know, it’s just there’s too many variables in there for that thing to scale like it needs to, and then when you take that, it can work perfectly fine today, right?

And but when a buyer looks at that they’re looking at scalability, they’re looking at future value, they’re looking at how this is going to look in 10 years, not, is it going to get me through the next couple of years that I, you know, so I can get out. And it’s a huge differential, in a sell ability, and B value when you when you look at it from that standpoint, having that solid infrastructure in place

 

Paul Van Metre  25:58

in it. And if you don’t have it, it kind of limits your options to people that want to be owner operators themselves, they want to take over your job as the owner. Yeah. And as you have those great systems, the team that’s executing it, that doesn’t rely on the owner, then you open up to a whole different type of buyer, you know, that might just want to buy it for strategic reasons. And, you know, no, team can execute.

 

Damon Pistulka  26:23

Exactly, exactly. And that’s one of the biggest things as you look in, in a more technical business, like a machining business of the owner is the brain power behind the business. When that owner leaves the value and the brain power behind the business just walked out. And anyway, it’s a real thing, right? It’s a real, it’s

 

Paul Van Metre  26:41

totally real.

 

Damon Pistulka  26:42

I had I had I talked to you it was a couple years ago. Now I talked to a large Midwestern machining company, their aerospace machining they nice size, I mean, it well into eight digits. And they were they were doing I shouldn’t say not. Yeah, they were over $20 million.

What, just make sure I’m doing it right there. But you know, and they were really disappointed in the values they were getting from private equity buyers, four owners in the business. One was like the the operations genius. One was the CEO, one was the supply genius, and one was the financial person. And they all expected to retire when the business was sold. Right? It’s like, if that wouldn’t be a you know, that’s a risky proposition. Right? There

 

Paul Van Metre  27:34

were any buyer. Yeah, yeah,

 

Damon Pistulka  27:35

it just it just can’t you just can’t do it at that point. So what you’re saying and allowing the the owner to walk away from the business and the business still run fine for an extended amount of time is is very valuable to the new buyers coming in?

 

Paul Van Metre  27:50

Well, that’s that’s kind of a telltale, if the owner can like go on vacation for a whole month, and just connect and the business runs fine. That’s a really good sign that your business will be worth more than if they’re start calling you the moment you walk out the door asking questions,

 

Damon Pistulka  28:06

that that definitely is definitely as and real quick. We got Jenny’s Stephen Mize. Stephen Meyer. Excuse me here. Jenny’s got a cool welding shop in Iowa. Solar powered good stuff. Yeah, I’ve

 

Paul Van Metre  28:20

talked to Jenny. She’s awesome.

 

Damon Pistulka  28:22

Yeah, good stuff. Well, thanks for listening, Jenny, glad to see you. And, you know, this is this is really interesting. Because you, you did, you’re out with proshop. Now you’re selling proshop to the to the machine shops. They’ve got these challenges they’re working on? What are what are some of the things that your customers talk about? After they’ve implemented? Your software? What really do they notice? First, what do they go wow.

 

Paul Van Metre  28:53

Things just get a lot less frustrating and frantic. Like there’s just way less firefighting. Yeah. And that turns into more throughput and more revenue. So the most common number that we hear once they call it a year after their, you know, gone live, and really, you’re using a lot of the tools and features of the number we hear the most is about 25% increase increases in throughput, no additional people, no additional machines. And which is a crazy number, you know, is and it’s but it’s awesome, and it’s amazing.

But there’s so in a traditional shop there. There are so many, you know, it’s I think so and I’ve heard many people say it’s the hardest kind of business in the world to run, right? There’s so many moving parts. It’s so complex, there’s so technical. There’s like a million ways to get it wrong. And only a couple of ways to get it right. And, and there’s so there’s always these obstacles that that that cause long setup time. And scrap rates and last minute firefighting where machines are down and you’re scrambling to figure out, get the machine back up and running again.

And with better processes and a little bit, not a lot more, but a little bit more forethought about being more system driven. It’s amazing how much more velocity jobs can have. And so those are, I think, the specific tools that we provide that, that we haven’t really seen many other systems out there do. That just allow just things to start moving much more smoothly through the facility.

Yeah. And it impacts people on a personal level, because they’re less stressed, they’re less frustrated, their businesses are now more profitable. They can, they can hire more people, if they want, they can go, you know, go on vacation, I was just talking to a shop owner and in Idaho, who was getting to the point where he was feeling like it was just too stressful. He wanted to sell his shop.

He switched over to pro shop. And then a year later, he’s like, Paul, this has been the best year I’ve had ever and I’m going hunting all the time, and I’m going golfing and I know my shops doing well. It’s I can see it on my phone. Yeah, and everyone knows what to do. And he’s like, I don’t want to sell anymore. Just keep running it. I love it.

 

Damon Pistulka  31:14

Yeah, that’s and that that is I mean, what you touch on. And it’s not necessarily to specifically talk about pro shop, because Pro Shops, great system, we know that and it’s really good. And I don’t want to negate that the thing you’re touching on is they’re they’re in pro shop is a system that helps them run their business better.

And it’s not like an earpiece system, that for an old that just spits out the financial data and your inventory and things like that, when you put it in an operating system, like pro shop that helps you run the business part of it, like you said, where you make your money, it gives you so much freedom, because that is the part that I always see in the in the clients that we help that when we help them get control over the operations. And they understand on a daily basis that I either did what I should have, or i or i in some cases, it’s I’ve done enough to make sure I’m going to be profitable on that day or that week.

And I know that if I do that through the month, I’m going to I’m going to make money like I want at the end of the month. And that’s really what the it’s on the owners minds here. You’re giving them that peace of mind, because they can see if something’s going awry, rather than them not knowing because oftentimes, it’s not just the business owner that doesn’t know it’s the supervisor doesn’t know, and if the supervisor or the person doing it knows early enough, they’ll take care of the problem. Sure.

 

Paul Van Metre  32:45

Oh, yeah, yeah. No, you’re right. It really is an operating system. And it’s, yeah, I mean, it’s like upgrading, you know, to Windows 10, when used to run Windows 98. Right, yeah, it’s just better features to make it faster, smoother. And it is remarkable the results that can people can get when you have a good and, and I and I really credit, quite honestly, my I’ve already mentioned his name a couple of times, my partner, Kelsey, and some of the other people we had on our team.

They’re just such brilliant sort of mines in in execution and thinking about it strategically. And from a business process perspective. And really, also from a lean perspective, we went through a pretty major lean transformation pretty early in our, in our business, probably also around 2004. And we built all sorts of tools and methods that were very much aligned with Lean principles and eliminating waste and, and reducing whip and all sorts of things that were just kind of built into the workflow of the software.

 

Damon Pistulka  33:52

Yeah, and that that, like you saying, if he did that, and built it into the software, then it’s part of the system, and it automatically, automatically as part of the whole business, then. That’s really cool. So when you’re out and about and this is off this off the subject of VRP for a system for six seconds. Second, excuse me, what are some of the really cool things you see in manufacturing now because you get to visit a lot of different manufacturers and i i like that stuff, just seeing what’s going on?

 

Paul Van Metre  34:24

Oh, yeah, I mean, well, robotics, super fun, super cool. You know, 3d scanners, 3d printers, I mean, everything is going digital, you know. And the way those systems all connect, and that’s just super, super fun.

 

Damon Pistulka  34:44

Yeah, so the the robotics, I actually was talking to a friend of mine that that’s still he’s a manager and an molding operation actually one of my used to work with, and they were talking about the robotics that they’re using, I forget the term you use. But it’s actually a robot that’s doing repetitive stuff around you. But it’s like does something in hand you a part almost. And if you if a

 

Paul Van Metre  35:09

coach sounds like a robot,

 

Damon Pistulka  35:11

yeah, this is a cool bot. Exactly. That’s what I said, I like, that’s cool as heck, because he’s doing the hard stuff or is doing the repetitive stuff or something where you’ve got to go into a piece of equipment. In that case, they were using it to take something out. And never really thought about that before. Because the robotics of all that I was involved with was was real, you know, stay away, just let it do its job in the cage. Yeah, the cage kind of thing. And this stuff will come out to you. But it’s pretty cool that they’re actually helping you use some of the manual processes now.

 

Paul Van Metre  35:43

Yeah. And they’re, they have sensors. So if you just touch it, it’ll just kind of freeze there. And the torques aren’t too crazy, you know, it’s like strong bits at the same time. It can, you know, it’s not going to break your arm if you touch it. So yeah, yeah, we have a client just here in town that they, they machine these parts, and then the robot dispenses glue on a thread. And then they thread it in lock, you know, locked into us to to clocking on this medical device for a knee knee replacement joint.

And, you know, it’s just incredibly repetitive process, the people that were doing it, we’re getting carpal tunnel, and it’s, you know, it’s just and, and it’s not taken away a job. It’s I mean, because now the person is running the robot, and they’re getting more throughput and productivity. And it’s safer for the people and more enjoyable. And so yeah, there’s just so many benefits. It’s really awesome.

 

Damon Pistulka  36:36

Yeah, yeah. That’s cool. That’s cool. Are there any any new cutting things that are happening that’s like they’re, you’re seeing them speed up the cutting of aluminum or anything like this is like crazy coming over the top?

 

Paul Van Metre  36:51

Yeah, there’s definitely been lots of pretty major advancements in just cutting tool geometry, and even how that relates to toolpaths lately, so instead of these more kind of like high speed, shallow depth of cut milling paths that were popular for a while, now, it’s, there’s different terms were about like dynamic milling, where you’re going like full depth, maybe a little less radial engagement, although some of the cutters just blow me away. They’re taking like full slot worth in titanium or steel, or in canal and just barreling through at speeds you’d never believe in your life. Have you really seen it from 10 years before? Yeah, I should show all series some links with you.

 

Damon Pistulka  37:34

Oh, you have to I guess that’s that’s what I mean, I was, I asked that. Because when we when I was still running a place that we did a lot of titanium machining for the F 22. I mean, we would literally test cutters all the time. And, and you know, you get it, you get a I can still remember one day, we had a big verted of big horizontal machine sitting up on a forging, and we were testing some wood, they come corncob cutters, and we are hogging out there.

And you know, the whole, this is a big machine, it’s the size of I don’t know the size of a big truck. And the whole floor is shaking, you know, you got three feet of concrete blow and everything’s vibrating because it’s like, you’re doing that. So

 

Paul Van Metre  38:14

when you’re talking about cutting like that, that’s really something all titanium, I can pay something over here right now. So there’s this guy called Titan Gilroy, who has this business titans of CNC. And he he he has a bunch of partners, including kennametal, and they have this cutter called the core 5k or five. Some of the cuts they’re doing with it just are literally unbelievable. So

 

Damon Pistulka  38:42

yeah, yeah, well, it too, you know, it’s, it’s not only do in those kind of situations where they’re developing these new cutters, you have to convince, you know, you have to do the testing and do that. But then you got to go into these machine shops and convince the programming people that you can actually program them to move that fast, because I always want, you know, programmers or I, in my experience, anyway, are naturally conservative. So they’re not gonna want to push that in.

And then you look at it, you know, like the forgings. I was talking we were messing around with I think those things were like 15 or $20,000 apiece, so you really don’t want to wreck one. And wait. And in that case, I think they were like, that was over a year to wait for another one. So you know, but this this is really something to as as that when you think about these technologies. They’ve been around for how long and they’ve continued to evolve. Oh, yeah. So

 

39:37

when you

 

Damon Pistulka  39:38

look at machining or manufacturing in general, and you go well, we’ve been doing, you know, we’ve been making cars or we’ve been cutting steel or cutting titanium for a long time and you continue to see the developments. It really is exciting to be in an industry even that’s been around for a long time.

 

Paul Van Metre  39:56

But there’s cutting edge stuff every day,

 

Damon Pistulka  39:58

every day going on everywhere. It is happening every day it’s happening. Yeah. So how do you think the the, the industry in general is keeping up with education? Because I got to believe that, that that’s a challenge, just to stay abreast of what’s happening. Yeah, well,

 

Paul Van Metre  40:16

you know, there’s these programs like, like the eagle manufacturing, and I mentioned earlier, and, you know, and there’s community colleges and technical colleges all around the country. Yeah. Yeah. You know, and the, the companies in those areas that are engaging with those programs, you know, as advisors are on the board of the program, to, you know, help them try the latest technologies, the latest software and tools and machines. And, and I think that’s a key component to help these technical schools stay on the cutting edge.

So this is coming out of them actually have, you know, really great, great skills that are that are, that are relevant, you know, when when we were involved with the community college here at our school, or in our, in our town, and when we first you know, put two of our employees on the board, you know, they were learning how to, you know, hand grind, high speed steel, right? And it’s like, Come on, guys, we need to, like, let’s, let’s get into the 20th century and 21st century here.

Yeah, and, you know, Cam programming and modern toolpaths, and, you know, skills that they that, that machining, companies really actually want to use they, they don’t need to know, someone, they don’t need to hire someone that knows how to, you know, grind high speed steel anymore, right? No, not what they’re looking for. So, so yeah, it’s then and there’s lots of great programs that are, you know, now, you know, really modern and stand right on the cutting edge. And those students are coming out good, right, great employability skills.

 

Damon Pistulka  41:53

Good, good. Well, and I want to just a apologize to everyone out there is in the aerospace industry, because I realized how big of a foot in my mouth when I said it really, you know, in the machining industry really wasn’t affected that bad by COVID, because I had, you know, the 737 being down, it was already down for a while ahead of that. And that that did that decimated it. So I want to ask another question. Follow up to that, from what you’ve seen in the in the aerospace industry. Is it 737 coming back online? Is that really started to propagate through the industry again, and people are going or is it slow going? It’s

 

Paul Van Metre  42:28

a slower ramp? Yeah. I mean, is there the rates are not nearly as insane as they were before? Yeah. But yeah, I mean, customers are glad to get those get orders again, and start making deliveries, you know, and the ones that I think, survive that the best were the ones that got creative, and, you know, and diversified. And were more sales driven, you know, and it wasn’t just aerospace. You know, for example, we have a client, who was traditionally pretty dominant in oil and gas. Oh, yeah, didn’t do a lot else other than that, and for a long, you know, that industry was not doing terribly well, or has continued to not do super great.

And this client of ours just decided, partly because they, you know, they got proshop, and they, all of a sudden, their kms processes were just so, so get this, their QA manager, freed up about half of his time, every day. Wow. So he used to work eight hours a day, being a QA manager, and now he works for and he has four hours a day free. So they decided that he would pursue there as 9100.

So they got as 9100 we even introduced them to a few key contacts and companies are looking for suppliers, because we get, we’re now starting to get inquiries from people saying, Hey, can you give me a list of companies that use proshop because we’ve had such good success with those companies, we want more of them on our on our supply chain. So they so now they got as a 100, they got their first job from, you know, from Lockheed, and they are now doing work for a space company and it’s just, you know, in like six to nine months, they’ve totally diversified, you know, and it’s just just, it’s so cool and awesome to see that. Yeah, a part of that.

So but the key there is that they’re, you know, they’re just being really proactive and aggressive to diversify, be sales driven, work on their processes, make their company more attractive as a supplier, get out, make those connections make those introductions and, and those opportunities will come.

 

Damon Pistulka  44:38

Yeah, yeah. And it is so cool how your industry experience running the business allowed you to develop this solution that was really common sense practical from the ground, you know, from the floor. So your your concentrate, as we talked about that making money, the best way You can first and then and then moving, moving beyond that and, and how that’s helping others now with this scalable system that they drop in and not drop in, it’s a lot of work to put in and get it going. Right. But now, once they have that in place, they can utilize that to to further their business and move in different directions.

 

Paul Van Metre  45:20

And there’s no better, you know, economic driver than supporting manufacturers like that. Because, you know, every manufacturing job creates multiple other jobs. Yes. You know, that multiplier effect is greater than any other type of industry. And Definitely, yeah, it feels good to be a part of that. Yeah,

 

Damon Pistulka  45:39

yeah. So what what do you see on the horizon for you? I mean, you’ve got your your business has been going great. And you see are you got some new new things coming out that you’re going to be launching with your software? You got some new shows coming? what’s what’s going on?

 

Paul Van Metre  45:56

I mean, I won’t be satisfied until pro shop is an absolute household name in the machine shop business. You know, we’re, you know, we’re still getting there. There’s lots shops that don’t haven’t heard about us before. Yeah. But, but no, I think we have, we’re uniquely positioned to make a really positive impact on a lot of companies. And, and we’ve even had a lot of startup companies decide to get proshop like, as one of the first things they buy, they buy their first CNC machine, and they get proshop. Wow. And they’re just setting the stage for like, scalable growth and being attractive to clients.

So yeah, we’re just want to keep keep, you know, and the more clients we get, the more developers we can hire, the more features we can build to make it even better. Right? Yeah. And we’re constantly talking to clients about things they want, we probably have a feature wish list that’s 1000 features long, quite on, it’s just, there’s a lot of stuff we want to get into and, and we’re gonna stay tight, you know, into our niche. We’re not going to get into warehouse management or retail sales or things like that. But, but for that core, you know, complex manufacturing processes in a regulated industry, like aerospace or, or medical or things of that sort. Yes. Want to be the best out there.

 

Damon Pistulka  47:18

Yeah. That’s so cool. That’s so cool. Well, you know, Paul, it’s been awesome talking to you, man. And we could we go down a lot of avenues and manufacturers spend many hours doing this, but I just so appreciate getting to talk to you and learn more about your history and how I just it’s a fascinating story to me, because being it being in manufacturing for as long as I have, and as many in helping as many manufacturers, I’ve never seen any of them that have taken the time to develop a system to run their company.

And then that turned into an actual system that’s helping others run run their companies. And I think it’s it’s such a cool in a practical way to really developing something that’s different and unique. So thank

 

Paul Van Metre  48:07

you my planet, but yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s we’re having a really fun time allowing me to talk to your audience and be a part of this. It’s your Yeah, your museum is infectious. And I look forward to working with you talking more with you.

 

Damon Pistulka  48:22

Oh, yeah, we will. We will definitely. So if someone wants to get a hold of you. What’s the best way to get ahold of you, Paul?

 

Paul Van Metre  48:29

Get a hold of me. I mean, certainly, I’m, I’m pretty active on LinkedIn here, but just our website, proshop eirp. Calm,

 

Damon Pistulka  48:37

okay. That’s where we have to go.

 

Paul Van Metre  48:39

Or we have a very fun new website. You may have seen it. Love your eirp calm.

 

Damon Pistulka  48:45

Oh, no.

 

Paul Van Metre  48:48

It’s hot pink, and hearts all over the website. Oh, that’s great, because we’re poking fun at the fact that the word love and DRP just don’t normally go together. They’ve never been used in the same endeavor. Yeah. So many clients say they love proshop. So we have a mash up video of people saying that and just quits. Yes. We launched it right on Valentine’s Day. It was. It was fun.

 

Damon Pistulka  49:15

Oh, that’s super fun. That’s, that’s great. Well, Paul, thanks so much for being here. I want to thank everyone else. I think Jenny, she she dropped another just great comment. Thanks so much, Jenny. Anyone else is listening. Take a look at it. connect up with Paul. Great dude knows what he’s talking about. been there and done that. And I will be back again next week. We’re taking Thursday off this week on the faces business. Yes. And we’re not that I’d like to take it off. But I’m going on a little vacation. So I’m happy about you. Yeah. And we will see you next week on the face of the business. Thanks, Paul.

 

Paul Van Metre  49:53

Thanks, Damon.

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