Mahuta Tool Corp. in Germantown is a family business. Founder Ken Mahuta and his wife, Lynn, are owners. Their children, Jeff Mahuta and Kimberly Mahuta Laczniak, work in partnership with them to run the company of 25.
Mahuta provides CNC machining, turning and milling services to original equipment manufacturers. It serves companies of all sizes with tool design, dies and workholding fixturing.
“We start out with a chunk of metal and then do all the finishing,” Ken said.
For example, Mahuta takes the casting for a Caterpillar work holding fixture, then locates and clamps down on the machining center to drill holes in a part.
The company has been in business since 1988, and over that time has used technology to shorten its lead times. Today, they’re between six and eight weeks.
“Your larger OEMs are doing a lot of just in time,” Lynn said. “They need to know that the replacement part on their shelf is plug and play.”
Mahuta also has added a second shift to shorten lead times and allow more efficient response to customer demands.
“Most of our customers are in this area, but our parts go all over the world,” Ken said.
Mahuta completes a lot of smaller runs of parts, so machinists must often reprogram machines within tight tolerances to make the next group. The company specializes in screws and threads, custom nuts and bolts and special materials.
Mahuta works with customers to solve problems and adjust the design and engineering of products.
“We will offer a full service so they can come here and have the confidence that we will continue their process from beginning to completion,” Lynn said.
The company has had some trouble finding workers with the right set of skills to perform its jobs and has adopted some unique practices to recruit new employees.
One way Mahuta identifies future employees is through the Bots IQ Wisconsin contest, a robotics education program for area youth.
A lot of high schools have dropped their technology programs, so this contest provides children with the opportunity to try precision manufacturing, Kimberly said.
“They’re able to learn a skill and through the Bots competition, they create something and then they have fun,” Lynn said.
Kimberly has also taken it upon herself to increase Mahuta Tool’s presence on social media to interact with other manufacturing companies and potential employees.
While there aren’t a lot of manufacturers on Facebook, there are conversations happening about the industry, she said.
“They all are posting some great articles that are about trying to rejuvenate manufacturing and it seems like a shame not to take advantage of it,” Kimberly said.
Mahuta hired three employees last year and is in the process of adding two more.
Toolmakers and CNC machinists who can set up machines, read prints and perform the associated math are in high demand.
“Because of the custom parts that we make, we need a higher skillset,” Lynn said.
The company offers a four year CNC machinist apprenticeship and a five year tool and die apprenticeship, where employees “earn while they learn,” she said.
“Sometimes we find the best employees are the ones we bring in as an apprentice,” Lynn said. “They kind of grow up with us.”