Karlstadt Machining Doubles Growth
Dave Karlstadt, owner of Karlstadt Machining, grew up in the farm country of Ney, Ohio where he helped with the family business, raising beef cattle. In the Karlstadt family tradition, as soon as you can stand on a hay wagon, that’s your first day of work, so at the age of three Dave got started in the barn, feeding the beef cows.
Upon graduating from high school, Dave had no desire to attend college, so this meant he needed to get a job, pronto. A friend was working in a machine shop that specialized in medical implants, and he helped Dave get a job there. He worked at this shop for six years, then spent a year at an air tool company, and eventually moved on to manage a general job shop for 12 years. This last shop ran all Okumas. “Being around manufacturing for a while, I was exposed to a wide variety of machine tools,” Dave recalls. “The Okumas seem to be the ones we have the easiest time running, and they’re the most reliable.”
From Cow Chips to Cutting Chips
Six years ago, Dave struck out on his own and started Karlstadt Machining. (Folks around Ney sometimes joke that Dave went “from cow chips to cutting chips.”) As he planned his first machine tool purchases, he knew, based on his experience, that Okumas would be reliable enough to meet his objective for delivering quality parts, always on time. There was one more important criteria in his search for machine tools: Dave wanted to build his business on a cash basis. This is where the Okumas provide another advantage, because he was able to purchase used equipment and successfully built his business with “the old green machines.” According to Dave “Some of our Okumas are beyond 40,000 hours on the clock meter, and we can still run parts in the high tolerance range.”
Going Okuma Brings Growth
In the early stages Karlstadt was careful with their investments, and the investments quickly paid off. Soon the company doubled in size, and they purchased many other used Okumas along the way. Rob Gallagher, of Okuma distributor Gosiger Inc., stops by Karlstadt from time to time just to check in and talk machine tools with Dave and the crew, and to see when they might be ready for a new machine. One day Dave told Rob he was ready to invest in a new machine. Dave wanted to have more opportunity with 3D milling and higher speed, while sticking with Okuma. They decided on a GENOS M560-V vertical machining center. “With all the technology, from the PC-based controller to the speed the machine can run at – with all that functionality we’re able to run parts in less time and compete with the rest of the world,” says Dave.
Today cow chips are still being “produced” on the Karlstadt farm. But the machine shop has gotten so busy cutting chips, they’ve hired their neighbors to take care of feeding the steers. Karlstadt went from a one-building shop to four buildings in five years, and recently they’ve consolidated operations into a brand new 12,000 square foot building, right next to the cow barns. They expect their business will double again in the next five years. “The reliability of Okuma machines plays a huge role in our success. We don’t have to worry about downtime. Our direction for the next five years will be to add a couple more GENOS machine tools, plus a horizontal machining center with a pallet changer. Being able to produce quality parts on time is our biggest advantage.”
More: Read Karlstadt’s full story and watch the video in the case study “From Cow Chips to Cutting Chips.”