MetalQuest: A Company on a Quest to Continuously Differentiate Its Business

Location: Post Falls, ID

Employees: 64

Equipment: 33 Okuma machines

ENTERPRISING FROM A YOUNG AGE

Scott Harms, President of MetalQuest, is no stranger to taking risks. Before he had a single manufacturing project, he started his company in 1996 in Nebraska at the age of 22 with the dream of owning his own business. Determined and energetic, he was the sole headcount responsible for every task throughout the business. Because of this, he quickly determined that his allocation of time was critical to his business’ success. He embraced the entrepreneurial concept and continued to grow, learn, and harness equipment, including his first multitasking CNC machine, in order to breathe life into his company and accomplish his tasks quickly and confidently.

Scott purchased his first multitasking machine in 1996. According to Scott, the decision to purchase this highly-versatile, multifaceted machine was a no-brainer.

“I knew going into it that I was going to be the only employee for some time, so I needed to make my time and capital count. Trying to get as many operations completed in one particular workholding or on one particular automated process was the goal – that’s when we met Okuma.”

METALQUEST AND OKUMA: A PERFECT MATCH

Much like a multitasking machine, MetalQuest has adopted a unique business model that provides complete turnkey services for its customers. With the ironic tagline of ‘Outsourced Vertical Integration’, MetalQuest handles processes from beginning to end for customers. The company takes pride in the full adoption of supply chain management as well as inventory control and stocking, which gives MetalQuest a competitive advantage over the majority of regional and national shops that only machine parts. Beyond their unique business model, Scott has not lost sight of their production goal - the parts must be perfect.

As job specifications, tolerances, and delivery demands become tighter, the need for high-efficiency and precision is greater than ever for manufacturers. “People don’t want lower-tolerance parts, and they’re never going to want lower-tolerance parts,” Scott said. “They’re asking for more all the time, and when it takes five different operations to get a part made, that leaves five times the chance of introducing an error or a problem.”

According to Scott, the types of parts that MetalQuest excels at creating are the more difficult parts, those that would take other shops multiple machines, operators, and even programs to create. Realizing that the most consistent process is one that reduces the number of set-ups and production steps, multitasking machines allow MetalQuest to complete all operations on a single machine, vastly reducing the risk of human error and in turn reducing downtime in production.

MetalQuest trusts Okuma and its distribution partners - Hartwig Inc. and Gosiger - to provide the equipment and support to meet these exceptional demands. MetalQuest has standardized on Okuma multitasking machines because they check all the necessary boxes: knowledgeable distribution network, continuous communication, exceptional quality, and the overall competency required of a principal partner. With a goal of being the most efficient shop, producing the most precise parts, and providing beginning-to-end supply chain services, MetalQuest looked to Okuma and its’ partners for their manufacturing solutions and all of their high-performance multitasking machine tools.

With 33 Okuma machine tools and another Okuma GENOS M560-V on the way, Scott said that consistency is invaluable to making their business successful long-term. “Most shops are a complete ‘flavor-of-the-month’ in terms of their machine tools, and we never want to be that. We rely on Okuma because of our relationship with them, their quality, their affordability, and the technology they’re able to bring.”

MetalQuest’s fleet of machines includes products from Okuma’s LB, LT, LU, and MULTUS series lathes; MA series horizontal machining centers; GP series grinders; and GENOS M460-V and M560-V vertical machining centers. Using these technologies, MetalQuest produces highly specialized parts for the hydraulics, oil, and firearms industries, just to name a few. Scott’s team of machinists and programmers utilizes its Okuma machines daily, along with several automated cell systems, to ensure that parts are impeccably produced, and meet or exceed all client specifications.

THE VALUE OF MASTERING YOUR CRAFT

MetalQuest is driven to attract top talent, and Scott understands that the right talent can make or break your business. That realization led Scott to recently open an additional machine shop operation in Idaho to gain access to a more diverse talent pool and greater opportunity for growth.

With continual education programs for employees and dedication to seeking out individuals that stay abreast of new technology and best practices, MetalQuest is continually trying to become faster, smarter, and more efficient to set itself apart from the competition. “We have been able to build a team that I am incredibly proud of, a team that has truly brought out the best in the people around them and is always looking outside the box,” Scott said.

From the beginning, Scott knew that he didn’t want to be categorized as a jack-of-all-trades – he wanted to master his craft. That passion was something he sought out in every one of his employees, and Scott is still focused on instilling a company culture centered around perfecting workmanship, laser-refining it, having employees performing to the best of their ability, and bringing as much value as they can to their customers.

INVESTING IN MULTITASKING: NO LONGER OPTIONAL

Though choosing to invest in multitasking machines may have been a radical idea when Scott started MetalQuest, the fast pace and strict requirements of today’s manufacturing industry make them a necessity on the shop floor. The value of multitasking machines can’t be ignored – they bring versatile machining to the production process, decrease the overall shop floor footprint, and reduce maintenance and operational expenses, all important factors that contribute to shop floor profitability.

“When you think about the competitiveness of the business we’re in, it was a lot easier to be in this business in 1996 than it is now,” Scott said. “The companies that do not continually re-invest in their businesses are the ones dying off. To me, it’s not a matter of if you look at multitasking – you need to look at multitasking and build a labor pool that not only understands the technology but feels the need to do things faster, smarter, and more efficiently.”

Scott concluded, “We are in a tech-heavy occupation. One you can be proud of. And we thank Okuma and its partners, Hartwig and Gosiger, for leading the way.”

Want to learn how multitasking machines can make an impact on your shop floor like they have for MetalQuest? Read our Multitasking Machining Guideand discover all you need to know before taking the plunge into the world of multitasking.

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