Shop Matters - Ep. 30 HM Manufacturing: From Surviving to Thriving

On this episode of Okuma’s Shop Matters podcast, host Wade Anderson is joined by Nicole Wolter, President of HM Manufacturing, to discuss HM Manufacturing's transformation over the years and the impact of seeing the shop floor from both the business owner and the machinist’s perspectives.

TRANSCRIPTION

Wade Anderson:

Hey, manufacturing world. Welcome to another episode of Shop Matters sponsored by Okuma America. I'm your host, Wade Anderson. And today I get the privilege of being out of Charlotte. Normally, I'm recording from a studio in Charlotte. And today I had had the opportunity to come to Chicago, Illinois, spend some time at our tech center. And I'm up in a suburb outside of Chicago visiting HM Manufacturing. And I'm joined by Nicole Wolter. Welcome.

Nicole Wolter:

Hi, thank you.

Wade Anderson:

Yeah, I appreciate you taking the time to do this and be part of this.

Nicole Wolter:

Of course. This is always fun.

Wade Anderson:

So Nicole, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Nicole Wolter:

Nicole Wolter, president of HM Manufacturing. We are a second-generation manufacturer. We do all internal components for power transmission. So gears, pulleys, timing belts, splines, shafts, shivs. You name it, we do it. It's kind of fun. About myself, my background is chemical engineering and finance. I kind of wasn't supposed to be in the business. I'm now very much in the business. I could never see myself outside of it. Love it, been involved now for about 12 years. Oh, it's kind of like aging myself now.

Wade Anderson:

Yeah.

Nicole Wolter:

Kind of scary. But yeah, love it. We've grown tremendously. We've had a lot of cool things happen, obviously adding to the talent pool, machines, really cool things in terms of products we now do. We used to only do timing belt pulleys and gears, and now we've really added on to our product capabilities, which has been really great too.

Wade Anderson:

Fantastic. So tell me about HM Manufacturing. Tell me a little bit about the name. I real it up on the company. Obviously, we know HM Manufacturing as a customer from Okuma, but you guys have a really interesting story. Tell me a little bit about the company and how it got started.

Nicole Wolter:

Yeah, so my dad started it in 1979. Originally, he was a Formula 1 race car driver. And so, he would love to tinker with his gear boxes and do different ratios. And he started to perform really well on the scenes. And so, there was a lot of people that came up to him, at one time it was called Uniroyal, now it's Gates Rubber Company. And they wanted to kind of co-develop some timing belt pulleys with him and he did. And he thought, "Hey, there's really a market for this. And I kind of want to that start on my own." So, he decided to just jump in and do it because there was a passion and a love for it. And he started in the basement of my grandparents' house and had no idea what to call himself. And so, my grandmother just being lovely, and just how fantastic she is, she's just like, "What if you just call it Homemade?" And so HM actually stands for homemade.

Wade Anderson:

That's incredible.

Nicole Wolter:

Yeah.

Wade Anderson:

And you think about homemade, typically, if I'm going to go to a restaurant, I want to go to somebody who's doing home-cooked meals, homemade stuff. So, there's an enigma of quality and care, and things like that, so I'm assuming that's probably part of that story on where the name came from.

Nicole Wolter:

Yeah. Very much so in quality, and that's really what we stand by and what we do and what we produce. And so, I think like you were talking about homemade, there's always that essence of familiarity, there's that quality, there's that homey feeling. And I feel like when you walk through the doors of HM that's what you get.

Wade Anderson:

Yeah. Fantastic. So being a female CEO in a manufacturing industry, that's something that you don't see every day.

Nicole Wolter:

Yeah.

Wade Anderson:

Tell me how did that come about? You're a highly educated individual, you could have gone...

Nicole Wolter:

Anywhere?

Wade Anderson:

100 different career paths. What brought you back into the family business?

Nicole Wolter:

Yeah so, for those that don't really know the story I'll be kind of brief because I know it could take forever to kind of discuss. Background chemical engineering, finance, wanted to go on Wall Street, and I wanted to do derivatives, and I wanted to live bougie lifestyle. I felt like that was me. I loved to party. I loved to have a good time, but I love numbers and I thought that'd be great. 2008/2009, as I'm literally leaving college, I got a phone call from my dad saying that he needs help in the business and thought I'd be a great fit for it, to do sales, to kind of help out, just to start alleviating some of the pain holes that were here. So I said, "Okay fine." But then he said, "But you know what? I need you to go get kicked around a bit. I need you to get like tough skin. So, I don't want you coming here acting like a princess. I need you to go figure it out first." I said, "Fine." So I got a job in Chicago working at a securities firm downtown, did that for about nine months. I'm very opinionated and so I got thrown out, I got fired.

Wade Anderson:

No kidding?

Nicole Wolter:

Yeah, well, it's that time, 2008, 2009, 2010. Things are just not good.

Wade Anderson:

Yeah, financially.

Nicole Wolter:

Yeah, it was just horrible. So, there's a lot of stress and a lot of demand. So, I showed up at my dad's door here at HM and I said, "Okay, it's time." And he was like, "Wait now?" And I go, "Yeah, it's now or never." So, literally started from the ground up. I knew nothing about this business and I think it's pretty sad considering that my dad started it in '79. And so, the business was always a part of my livelihood growing up, but I never knew about it. I never was asked to be a part of it. I didn't even come and take it seriously when I had, I guess, a summer job for about four weeks that I never really paid attention to. So, I did shipping, receiving. I then went into inventory management, I learned how to flange, I learned how to do bare minimum stuff of assembly. So, putting in bearings, putting in set screws, but that was really good for me to kind of understand that aspect. After that, I came into the front office, and I started to do a lot of the timecards, and some office management, started ordering materials. Then, went into more of the finance route. So, I did accounting, so accounts payable, accounts receivable. And that's when I started to know there were a lot of discrepancies in the business. I saw that we were losing a lot of money. And so, I decided it'd be good to start learning how to do the cost analysis from what the job was to what it was actually made and what was quoted. So, I kind of backtracked doing that, which was great. Then, I started to learn quoting. And so I've done everything in the business now, but back then, you were just trying to get a lay of the land and try to figure things out. But during that process, as I'm doing estimating and quoting, then I started to do sales. And I kept hearing this competitor's name over, and over, and over again. And long story short, I kept noticing that scrap was building up, times were very much fluctuating on the wrong end, we were losing. I had one customer come to me and say, "You know, I feel like it's like your competitor has your number. They're only like a couple pennies off." Well, lo and behold, I did, I hired a private investigator and I noticed that everyone that was at my shop was the competitor.

Wade Anderson:

Wow.

Nicole Wolter:

So, we literally had to start from scratch. So, we got rid of them. And when I tell you that there was literally only three employees left in this company there really was outside of my dad and myself. There was one person in the office and just a shipping person out back. So, it was literally being thrown into the fire and had to figure that out. So, I just kind of went into survival mode. I feel like that's just what I'm really good at. I'm really good at processing. And that's where the engineering side comes in. And you just have to kind of focus and kind of go through the motions. And I divvied up stuff to do. I said, "Okay, from 5:00 AM 'til midnight, this is what we're going to do." And so, my dad and I just really did a great job doing that. So, we learned how to do the machines, how to turn them on, how to figure that out. Started to do interviews to get people in here. I'm doing sales, I'm calling customers, and prospects, and suppliers. And there was just such a crazy mode of survival that I never really picked up my head to kind of breathe until we were about six to seven months in, and to where we are now, it's pretty crazy. But through all of that, what I thought was super, super necessary was to go get smart. And so, I decided to go to precision machining classes and learn that whole aspect of it so I could understand on a better scale what's happening out in the shop. And also, to be more effective in quoting and not to feel so insecure when I'm on these sales calls, and I don't really know what I'm talking about when it comes to dimensions, and certain things that we can and cannot do, where this is not really machinable because of this feature. And so that was super powerful for me. And I felt more inclined to stay because now I understood my role, and I understood where we were going. And from there just took it to then, okay, now I want to learn how to program. So, now I'm NIMS certified in programming, in milling, and lathe, so that's been really cool as well.

Wade Anderson:

Yeah. So, anytime I talk to people from the industry, I always like to look at what are some leadership nuggets that I can pull out of the conversation, the time spent with them. And it's incredible, every shop owner has some story of what they went through, and how they built the company, the way they are. Just listening to what you just shared, some of the things that I walk away from right at the start, is you looked at really the financial aspect of the company from a business perspective on how much does it actually cost to produce the parts versus what you're selling it for? And through that analysis, came up with a fact that something wasn't right.

Nicole Wolter:

None of it made sense, yeah.

Wade Anderson:

Yeah, something didn't add up here. Two plus two didn't equal four at that time. So, a lot of shop owners that I've talked to in the industry, they're phenomenal machinists. They came up off the shop floor and had the idea of, "Hey, I want to make this part, I want to do this. And sometimes the piece that's keeping them from growing to that next level is that financial aspect side of it and understanding the business perspective of actually running the company. So that's interesting. You walked in with that business perspective and then backed into becoming a machinist and how do I program, and how do I understand how to make parts and things of that nature? So, almost a...

Nicole Wolter:

Complete flip.

Wade Anderson:

Yeah, complete flip of what you typically see in the industry.

Nicole Wolter:

I think it's fun. I'm glad that I came in here with open eyes. I love to ask questions, probably to a lot of people's dismay, but I think it's important. And I came in being the disrupter that I am and I said, "Okay, why do we do it this way? Why do we do it that way?" And I want to be able to understand and so when I kept getting the same kind of response, I was like, "Oof, that's not good." "Well, we've always done it this way." I hate that phrase more than anything.

Wade Anderson:

Yes, thank you. I talk about that a lot too. Anytime I hear somebody say, "Well, we've always done it that way," there's opportunity there.

Nicole Wolter:

Absolutely.

Wade Anderson:

There's another way to do it better. So, if you were talking to a business owner and he's saying, "Hey, I want to learn how to grow my company, move it to the next level," what advice would you give him?

Nicole Wolter:

I think it just depends where you want to go to the next level. Could be a lot of different things. For me, I made kind of a mood board. I know, me being a girl. But I thought it was important because there was so many areas that I needed to kind of backfill in order to get to that next phase. So, great, I had the machining experience, we were able to survive such a very catastrophic time for the business. We were starting to grow little by little. Financially, we're doing better. And then, I wanted to attack the website. I wanted it to be a little bit more modern. We only had a one-page website. Now, we have an entire catalog and I change it every year because I think just like phones are changing every year, so should our websites. They should be a little bit more forward-thinking and progressive in terms of what we're trying to showcase.

Nicole Wolter:

And then, after I had my website, then I was like, "Okay, now I want to attack social media. I want that to be a very big aspect of things." And I also think me being young helps out too. And so, I think for a lot of business owners, I would say the best thing you can do is hire young talent and deal with the backlash of it a little bit. I mean, I have a lot of young kids, I have a lot of interns that are here. And I think it's just so great because you learn from them. And so, sometimes it takes away from your time of doing your own work, but it's so beneficial. So, I attacked the social media. I'm huge on LinkedIn, Instagram, then I went to TikTok and I think that's another great way to start kind of giving other people an idea of what manufacturing is.

Nicole Wolter:

And another thing I would say is to stop pitching the sale. I think everyone that is interested in your stuff or wants to know about you can go to your website. I don't think the tactics of kind of having like, "This is what we do. This is what we can offer," all the time in your face. That, to me, is so old school. The new generation, my millennials and the Gen Zs, we love to just see what you're doing internally. So, we'll go to Instagram. If you don't have an Instagram, I was just told this by my social media director, she's literally 21, she goes to college full time, but yet she does all my social media. And she's in Miami of Ohio, so she's nowhere near me, but she's still running it. And she says, "Yeah, I don't take anybody seriously if they don't have an Instagram." And so that's very interesting to kind of hear that philosophy and that thought process because that's true. That's probably not going anywhere. That's probably just the beginning of how these kids in the next generation are starting to think.

Nicole Wolter:

So, website for sure. Make sure that that's constantly, with your SEO, stable. Move on to social media, are you active? Are you sending out good content? Is it relatable? Is it something that people are really vibing on? And then, after that, I mean, it's kind of what do you want to do? I mean, for me, when I think of growth, I think of a lot of things I think of social media, I think of where do I want this company to be next year, six months? For me, it's young talent, it's technology, it's kind of making that push. I could do sales all day long, but if I'm not investing in technology and the talent it's going to go for nothing. So I think for business owners, if you have an aging workforce, you need to really, really start taking the time to start developing and figuring out what's next.

Wade Anderson:

Yeah, building that bench strength for the next generation.

Nicole Wolter:

Absolutely.

Wade Anderson:

So let's talk about how do you attract young talent? I think the same issue exists from Maine all the way to Southern California in trying to find good workforce, good labor pool to be able to bring in to move your products, and move your machine. How do you attract the young talent? How do you make them look at your facility and say, "Hey, this is where I want to be. This is a place where I can grow and can learn things."

Nicole Wolter:

Well, I think I have an advantage of being young myself. I'm running the company. I'm 35, so I'm more relatable to someone that's coming out of high school, or community college, that bridge. And, again, I love technology, I love pushing boundaries, I love social media. And so, I think me being able to showcase that stuff on LinkedIn and Instagram, and I'm always showcasing the employees, we're on TikTok. So, now we do like these fun, new viral things that are happening, and they get involved, they like that. But I would have to credit the fact that I'm in this area that has, I would say, a lot of high schools that have a dedicated manufacturing program. And if they don't, they're now starting to understand that it's needed. And so, they're coming to a lot of business owners like myself in certain industrial parks. And they're saying, "How can we partner with you? How can we help this group of students that don't necessarily want to go to college, but don't really know what they want to do, how do we help them?"

Nicole Wolter:

And so, being on the Technology Manufacturing Association, their Education Foundation Board has just been so instrumental. And I credit them because I got on that board, and we were granting and donating, whether it's money, whether it's machines, whether it's time, to a lot of these high schools to kind of build up their programs. And through that, you meet a lot of the superintendents, the principals, the teachers that are running these programs. And now I sit on three advisory boards. And so, what happens? Well, now, that these kids are kind of going through the motions. They're there freshman year through senior year, and a lot of these kids are coming out with, they're NIMS certified. They can do CAD/CAM with their eyes closed. I mean, they're gamers at night so they love this stuff. And so, then they partner with us. And I have internships that turn into apprenticeship programs, that turn into a full-time job. And it hasn't always worked. I mean, it's just trial and error, but I'm super fortunate that I have these high schools that I can kind of pull from and bridge the gap. So, I know a lot of other companies kind of don't have that resource. And I know I've talked to another colleague who's up in the Northern part of Minnesota, and they had a technical college that used to turn out about 110 of these kids. And now, they're down to like 15 a year. So, that's scary. And so, I start to think, well, as manufacturers, as owners, we're doing a really bad job promoting our industry. I know we've gotten better, but I think the kids that are starting to come up, they're looking for not necessarily fun, but they're looking for active. Do they have a career? Is this a place that's going to be boring and non-innovative?

Wade Anderson:

Can you talk through what the apprenticeship program looks like?

Nicole Wolter:

Yeah so, they can start at 18. So, normally what I do is if I can get them as an intern for like two years, so they'll start at 16, 17, I can kind of gauge where they are, I can understand their skill set. I always ask the teachers, where are they just so I can kind of figure out and engage if they're going to need more training. Of course, you're always going to need training, but instead of it being so soft skill, if they're a little bit more advanced, I can take them on to do bigger and better. And so, what I do is it's kind of like a job shadow. So, what they do is every six weeks they'll switch a department. So, they'll start at the lathes for six weeks, and they accumulate so many hours, and they have to kind of go through certain steps. They have to be able to set up. They have to be able to do offsets. They have to understand the tools and what that all means, including boring bars, and certain inserts. And if you put this in, what is that going to do? Are you going to be able to relief? Are you going to be able to contour? Is it going to chip? Those kinds of things, we make sure that they understand. Then after six weeks, then they go to the gear hobbers and they know how to set up, be able to kind of pull up the program, not necessarily program, but at least understand that portion. Then, they'll go to the shaper cutters and be able to understand the internal cutting of the teeth. Be able to measure that, because that's a completely different way of measuring. And so, we teach them that as well. Then, they'll go on to broaching for six weeks. That's a little bit easier to do, but I think it's still very needed. And so, they'll learn how to set up, do that whole process. And then, at the very end, then they'll go to the milling department for another six weeks.

Wade Anderson:

Okay. Wow.

Nicole Wolter:

Yeah.

Wade Anderson:

So that's, basically, a year-long process then for them.

Nicole Wolter:

Yeah. And they're paid the entire time. And so, as they keep their skill set, and they get better and better, and they don't need so much help, I increase their wages. So, no one here starts under $18.

Wade Anderson:

Wow, that's great.

Nicole Wolter:

Yeah. And we do all the training. If we have to send them to Mastercam, we do. If we have to send them for more training, I'll send them to the Technology Manufacturing Association to learn how to program one and two, and kind of get more of that advanced programming aspect of it. Because these kids talk, right? So when they're hearing, "Hey, I'm getting paid $18, $19 an hour and I didn't have to go to school, and I'm getting overtime, and they're paying for my training," they start to talk. And I think that's the best thing that could happen is word of mouth. And being on social media. And it's so funny. It's like, I now literally have a waiting list for these kids that want to intern and apprentice. And they don't always have to stay with me. I don't always have job openings, but what I do is we have a great network, so I call down the street, "Hey, does anyone have an opening? This guy did an entire year's worth of my apprenticeship program. This is what he can do. I can vouch for him." And I think that's a great thing to be able to do, especially in our industry when we're crying for help.

Wade Anderson:

I was just going to ask what's the percentage of people that come through the program that stick with either your company or stay in this industry, even locally?

Nicole Wolter:

So, for me, it's about 50% that have stayed. The other 50% kind of differs. Some have decided they don't really want to do manufacturing, and so I applaud them for even trying it. And then the others, they want to go on to engineering. I had one guy, Arman, who came from Lake Zurich High School who is so insanely talented, and so smart and loves robots. Loves it, loves it, loves it, loves it. And as I was showing him the machines and he was kind of getting an understanding of it, he didn't really grasp it, didn't really like it. But the minute that I called one of my good friends, Craig Zoberis over at RoboJob and Fusion OEM and I said, "Hey, I don't have a robot, but would you please just let me have one for six weeks 'cause I think this kid's going to really knock our socks off." So, he lent it to me for six weeks. This kid programmed the robot to do everything and anything in six weeks and just took off. And so he didn't know what he wanted to do, he just knew he liked robotics, and thought, "Maybe I want to be in aerospace. Maybe I would like to be in machining." By the end of it, he's like, "I just want to be a robotics engineer."

Wade Anderson:

Wow.

Nicole Wolter:

And so, I think that's important to also give these kids the opportunity to figure it out.

Wade Anderson:

Sure. Yeah.

Nicole Wolter:

Hands-on experience gives you the opportunity to see what you like and what you don't like. And I'm totally not offended if you don't want to stay with me.

Wade Anderson:

Yeah. Oh, that's great.

Nicole Wolter:

Yeah.

Wade Anderson:

And that's a great story too of partnering with other people, being able to leverage each other's talents, and tools and equipment, and things of that nature. So, that's awesome. Is there any reason that you can see why any shop should not be doing an apprenticeship program?

Nicole Wolter:

No.

Wade Anderson:

Yeah.

Nicole Wolter:

That's a very hard, no.

Nicole Wolter:

I always get the backlash of, "Well, how are we going to do it?" Or, "I'm too small." No, I literally have 20 people, I'm small and I'm still able to do it. And I was doing it even when we were only 14 people. But the opportunities are there and my dad gave me a lot of grief about it in the beginning because we didn't have a lot going on back then. And he was like, "How are you gonna keep these kids? And how are you gonna keep these machines running and throughput?" And it's always the same song and dance. It's all about getting product out the door. And they're going to need so much extra help and they're going to eat up so much of the guys' times, it's not going to be worth it. And what's so funny is now he gets so excited about when the interns come because he gets a big kick out of it, and he sees that a lot of the guys out in the shop, I mean the average age is only 32 years old out there. So, we are young. And so, they love it because they can show what they're able to do. They can also be relatable and say, "Hey, I started off not really knowing anything and like look where I am now." Adam runs my entire shop out there he's only 30 years old. And he started kind of being like a journeyman all the way around. And he came to me at 24, and now there's not anything out on that floor that he can't run, or program, or fix. He's just a whizz. And I think that's really cool that these young kids that are like 16, 17, 18 that are walking through your doors can see themselves in them.

Wade Anderson:

Right. It helps with retaining employees too.

Nicole Wolter:

Absolutely.

Wade Anderson:

Yeah. Is there anything in particular that you do specifically for retention, for retaining the talent that you've got?

Nicole Wolter:

I mean, everyone has kind of like the same benefits. I think, for me, because they're young, I think it's easier because I know for me all the times that I've been the only woman in the room like that doesn't affect me, but I know that affects a lot of other people. So, I think that is super helpful. I think being progressive in terms of technology and constantly getting the latest and greatest and pushing forward also helps too. These kids love technology, but I'm always doing incentives, I'm always doing some kind of gift card. I'm always understanding who they are as a person. So, for me like I said, I'm a social bee, I love to talk to people, I love to get to understand each individual. And then, I curtail how they are with how I kind of react with them.

Nicole Wolter:

So I think that's important. I always have a conversation, "Hey, are you happy here? Like, are you bored? Do you want to move to a different section?" "Yeah, I'm bored. I don't really like this anymore." And so, I had that instance not that long ago, his name's Cruz, he came to me as an intern, hired him full-time after he graduated. And he was just on one of the machines, just doing long production runs. And I could tell he was starting to just to be bored and not want to do it. So I asked him, I go, "Okay, I don't want to lose you 'cause I think that you like this." He's like, "I do, but I'm just tired of really like sitting here and kind of doing the same stuff." I go, "Okay, I'm gonna put you to the gear hobbers." And the gear hobbers change so many times over and he's running two of them at the same time. And now he is happy. He loves it. He's excited. He's like, "I'll do overtime if you need me to. I'm actually enjoying." So he's enjoying himself. And that's important. But I don't think I would have as good retention if I wasn't so open to having these kinds of transparent dialogues and figuring out how they want to be talked to how they want their lifestyle. There's a couple people that don't want to do overtime and I have to respect that. We all have to be empathetic to our team.

Wade Anderson:

Right.

Nicole Wolter:

And so I think that helps along with gift cards, and incentives, and paid training, raises. I think all of those things are super important.

Wade Anderson:

Yeah, all becomes part of the culture of the company at that point.

Nicole Wolter:

Yeah, absolutely. And I think there's a good dynamic between my dad and I, it's good cop, bad cop. Sometimes they reverse every so often. But we love to have a good time here even though we're very serious with our job, and with our work, and getting quality product out, I think it's important that everyone vibes together and understands everyone.

Wade Anderson:

Okay. One last topic is, coming from a finance background when you look at new technology that's always kind of a sticking point when we're talking about new machines, new technologies, we want customers to adopt them, how do you justify, what's the process you look for, for the return on investment for new technologies that haven't been in the industry long enough to really know the adoption rate, things of that nature? So, you look at when mill turn-style machines first came out that was a radical leap and a lot of people were very leery of it. And now you go into shops that that's all they buy because they've figured out ways to manufacture the parts different than they've ever done before and become more productive at it. What's the steps that you go through? What do you look for?

Nicole Wolter:

So I kind of do it as if like buying a car.

Wade Anderson:

Okay.

Nicole Wolter:

So, I don't want to buy the car that just came out the first year. I like to wait it out. I love to hear people's responses to the car. So, love to hear people's responses to the machine, responses to the technology, have they had hiccups? Did it perform the way that they thought it would? How is it with the footprint of the bed? And also kind of do the guys out in the shop like it? I think it's so important that they like it just as much as you do because they have to run it.

Wade Anderson:

Yeah, the buy-in.

Nicole Wolter:

Yeah, you have to have a buy-in. Everyone kind of has to. And what's so cool about Okuma is that actually there's a lot of the guys that fight for the machine. They're like, "Oh, I want to do it this time. Like why do I always run this machine? Can't I do this machine?" And I think that's so cool.

Wade Anderson:

Yeah.

Nicole Wolter:

But what's great is that you have people that you can rely on to kind of vet things out. I think, for me, it's been, what is the price point? What am I going to get out of it? Has it been out in the market long enough to kind of stand the test of time? We've had a lot of bad instances. My dad used to only buy Cincinnatis that got bought out like 15 different times. So, that product is no longer a viable option. And so going to IMTS every two years that's what we love to do. Every two years, we love to buy or replace with something new. And I think every two years that technology has changed, but it's also kind of been tested. And every Friday, because it goes all week long, we shut down the entire plant and everyone goes to IMTS, and we ask them, "Go look, go explore, go to as many vendors as you can, go to as many booths as you can, ask questions." And I think it's great because a lot of the guys go, and they kind of go to the other booths and they test things out, and they want to program, and they ask all these cool questions. And then, we have lunch at the end of... or in the middle of the day and we talk about it and they said, "Oh, well this is cool. And I think that's great."

Nicole Wolter:

And actually how Okuma came about was because of IMTS because of my plant manager. And how we bought the broaching machine is because Eric, who used to be in shipping and receiving, saw the broaching machine and goes, "Hey, this is a better one than a Davis Keyseater. This could actually do more work. You could actually even do internal splines if the shaper is backed up." And so, when you kind of give them the opportunity to also help pick things out, of course not always going to say yes to everything, but they're out there and they're invested. And I think that that's super important too because they're going to have to run that. They're going to have to see that all the time. They're going to have to deal with it, so they have to like it as well.

Wade Anderson:

Yeah. Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate you taking some time out of your day, and spending the afternoon with me chit-chatting on this.

Nicole Wolter:

Always. Thanks for having me.

Wade Anderson:

Yeah. Very good. Well, thank you for joining us today. And thank you all for listening. Be sure to check out Okuma's social media channels, and stay tuned for future YouTube videos, and other machine content. Until next time, we'll see you then.

read more
Sign Up For Updates
Thank you for signing up for Okuma updates. We look forward to sharing our content with you.

We offer a variety of ways for you to stay informed about our events, and to receive general Okuma updates. Fill out the form below to let us know the type of information you'd like to receive.

Find Your Distributor
Sign Up For Updates
Thank you for signing up for Okuma updates. We look forward to sharing our content with you.

We offer a variety of ways for you to stay informed about our events, and to receive general Okuma updates. Fill out the form below to let us know the type of information you'd like to receive.