Where People Make The Major Difference

Major Tool & Machine, Inc.
Written by Robert Hoshowsky

Major Tool & Machine, Inc. (MTM) is a world-recognized leader with decades of industry experience in contract manufacturing, providing turnkey services that include material conversion, forming and fabrication, precision welding, precision machining, assembly and testing.
MTM focuses on working with industry leaders, such as Fortune 1000 companies, and government agencies including the United States Department of Defense and the Department of Energy. These entities appreciate the tremendous value MTM brings to their markets and their missions.

MTM proudly serves top-tier clients in sectors including energy, aerospace and defense, nuclear and national labs, industrial products, and emerging markets.

“Aerospace, defense, power generation and nuclear are all experiencing growth trends,” says Vice President of Business Development Joel Manship. “All the markets that we service provide good growth opportunities.”

Manship is a veteran of the industry and has served as vice president of business development for the past two years and has been with the company for a total of nineteen years in a number of roles, including director of sales and marketing. He has been integral in getting the business engaged with the nuclear market, a growing sector. “We touch all elements of the nuclear fuel cycle,” states Manship.

The company has all the appropriate quality assurance registrations and certifications in place for commercial and aerospace markets, including ISO 9001 and AS9100 certification. “We also maintain ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) certifications to manufacture nuclear hardware, a series of stamps that authorizes us to produce compliant hardware that is used in nuclear applications.”

In the contract manufacturing industry, experience goes a very long way. MTM was established in 1946, supporting the war effort by supplying the U.S. Air Force and Navy with tooling and aircraft ground handling equipment. MTM evolved and has grown considerably over the decades in size, scope, capabilities, and in the industries it serves. It is now in its second generation of family ownership with the third generation engaged in management and operations.

The company continues to grow, doubling its revenue in the past two decades. The business occupied a space of 200,000 square feet when Manship was hired nineteen years ago; today, its footprint is approaching 600,000 square feet.

Major Tool & Machine’s full-time, skilled labor pool of approximately 400 includes machinists, welders, mechanical engineers, quality engineers, tooling engineers, welding engineers and support personnel.

Like many businesses in recent years, Major Tool & Machine has been faced with its share of hiring challenges, particularly when it comes to a shortage of willing and skilled workers.

The 1,300-member strong National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA) advocates to clear up misconceptions about the manufacturing sector, especially among young people. Much like the association, Major Tool & Machine is proactive and has in-house courses and facilities to meet manufacturing training needs.

“We’ve grown a lot of our own welders in our own training facilities,” comments Manship. “Even though we still actively recruit outside, we’ve had our own welder training course for about twelve years.”

The business provides eight individual weld stations, where new hires receive personalized instructor training with regard to materials, different welding techniques such as arc and flux core and more. The training brings new employees up to speed with MTM, its strict requirements and those of its U.S.-based and international customers. This is critical when developing welders to handle the projects needing very tight tolerances or of clients requiring unique materials.

Major Tool & Machine saw an increasing demand for machinists and re-instituted its machinist training program about two years ago. It has dedicated classroom space and an apprenticeship-type facility in which new workers perform hands-on training under the oversight of a skilled machinist with training lasting five to six months.

Students are integrated into the shop floor staff once they pass requirements and are shadowed for a period of time until they meet the necessary degree of competency. New people may have some industry experience, but others are hired right out of high school, junior college or college and still need to transition their experiences into applicable trades that can be applied toward MTM’s markets and exacting requirements.

“Anybody that goes through our training programs does so as an employee of Major Tool, so we are paying them to get their schooling and their training,” says Manship of the company’s welding and machinist programs. “It is paying dividends for the people that matter most; our work force, their families, and our customers.”

Operating within a team-based structure enables Major Tool & Machine to reach further goals. By integrating team concepts, the company can operate much more efficiently, measure feedback and better serve its customers. It has customer-focused teams (CFTs) in program management, process engineering, regional and market-based sales, manufacturing, support and other areas. It holds workplace meetings, integrates processes and concepts and opens feedback channels, allowing for constructive, ongoing improvement.

“For Major Tool & Machine, it starts at the front end with business development,” says Manship. “We engage with those markets and customers where there is a good fit and mutual value.” Once mutual value has been determined, this very specific customer focus extends throughout the MTM organization (engineering, program management, technical support, etc.)

MTM examines needs and builds relationships founded on trust with its customers. “We are very selective, frankly, in who we do business with. And with our project management teams – we call them customer-focused teams – we have a lead engineer who is the program manager and anywhere from three to seven engineers who work within that market space who have very deep knowledge of that customer, their programs and the market.”

The company works closely with clients to determine their technical requirements. Certain materials are specific to industries such as aerospace; there are stringent tolerances, government regulations that must be met, and other factors. “We have roughly fifty customers across all of our different markets. So it is that selective approach – that team-based approach – where we bring value,” says Manship.

“Our supply base is critical to our success,” he says. “Their performance is a direct reflection of our performance. Therefore, we are just as selective in our supplier selection process as we are in determining which markets and customers to serve.”

The company promotes itself through a variety of means including direct marketing, conferences and presenting technical papers where its team can illustrate some of the technologies and capabilities MTM brings to the market.

While it looks forward to its seventy-fifth anniversary in the coming years, Major Tool & Machine is ready for growth and keen to maintain its current small business status.

“By U.S. government standards, as long as we are operating at 500 employees or below, we maintain our small business status. So, our goal is to maintain our small business status while achieving profitable growth and maintaining our leadership as a privately held small business that is looking to grow its skilled workforce and consistently bring value to our customers.”



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