DMT Workholding has achieved success by focusing on the thing it is best at: manufacturing workholding fixtures.
Six years ago, chief executive officer Ed Shanley decided to eliminate the specialized boring machines and leak test equipment that DMT was making to complement its fixtures, instead focusing on its main product line.
The Slinger-based company completed a 7,000-square-foot addition to its facility in April. It now has 29,000 square feet. The $2.2 million investment also included a 20-ton overhead crane and two large horizontal boring mills.
Adding space and reducing a boring work bottleneck with the new machines has allowed DMT to increase its throughput by 35 to 40 percent, said Ed Shanley, chief executive officer. Several new customers have also contributed to the growth.
“My feeling is that it’s the reputation of the company. It’s that we’re getting known around North America,” Shanley said.
DMT provides workholding fixtures, jigs and specialized clamping systems to manufacturers for the production process. It creates custom hydraulic and manual fixtures for the automotive, agricultural, energy, marine, heavy equipment, mining and power generation industries.
“We make the thing that holds the casting in the machine,” Shanley said. “Everything we do here is designed right down to the very last detail in 3D.”
While workholding fixtures will last the life of a product, they must be adjusted when a product is changed. A car of the same model for a different year, for example, may need new or adjusted fixtures, Shanley said.
“A lot of our customers, they seem to have a new project for us every year, but it ebbs and flows,” he said.
The prices for DMT’s products are across the board, since they are custom. A single nest fixture could be $20,000, while a large multi-nest fixture could run in the hundreds of thousands.
It takes 10 to 12 weeks to quote, engineer, manufacture and assemble a workholding fixture.
DMT strives for quality, with stringent testing of the seals, clamping and hydraulic cycle on a fixture before it is installed.
Workholding is a niche business, and DMT has about 10 competitors in North America. Its customers are mostly in the Midwest, where the majority of heavy manufacturing is done, said Tim Grimm, outside sales account executive. DMT supplies OEMs, tier 1 suppliers and some tier 2 suppliers.
Customers include P&H Mining, CNH, Mercury Marine and major auto manufacturers, including electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla Motors.
DMT has doubled its sales volume over the past three years as the economy has recovered and with the addition of Tesla, a major account, said President Larry Wagner.
The company has CNC and engineering apprenticeship programs. High school students also complete co-ops at DMT.
DMT offers flexible hours, competitive pay, incentive programs and has a low employee turnover rate. It hosts company gatherings throughout the year and the leadership tries to make sure employees are doing well outside of work, Wagner said.
“We truly care about the people that work here,” Shanley said. “If you treat people really well, it will come back to you.”