CEO Justin Quinn sees a path to higher-volume manufacturing as aerospace jobs catalyze his CNC shop.
A mechanic while he served in the U.S. Air Force, Quinn later worked in banking, then acquired Focused on Machining in 2016.
Family connections drew Quinn to manufacturing: Three of his uncles have worked as machinists, and he missed “being mechanical and building things” a decade away from his stint in the military.
It took more than a year for Quinn to find the right shop to buy, and found it in Focused on Machining. Rich Pollmiller started the company in Englewood in 2008 and later moved it to Louviers.
Focused on Machining had nine employees in 2017, and Quinn has nearly doubled the head count in five years. The company has a total of eight CNC machines, replacing legacy equipment on a regular basis.
A good deal of the growth has come since Focused on Machining added a weekend shift and attained AS9100 certification in 2020. Revenue increased by 40 percent in 2020, 22 percent in 2021, and 39 percent in 2022. “It’s been pretty phenomenal,” says Quinn. “The last few years have had really strong growth, almost on the level of chaos a little bit.”
Aerospace has driven the boom and now represents 45 percent of sales. Cannabis, medical, industrial customers account for 10 to 15 percent of the business apiece, and work in semiconductor, food/beverage, and other fields are each about 5 percent.
Work in aerospace remains ascendant in early 2023. “It’s on a very steep upward trajectory,” says Quinn. “We’re doing a lot of satellite work, a lot of rocket work, those kinds of things.”
It follows that the components have grown increasingly complex and precise. “In 2017, we weren’t doing a ton of complex work, it was more general machining, where now it’s definitely a higher level of machining,” says Quinn.
It dovetails into Focused on Machining’s strength working with materials like titanium and copper. “We like the Inconels and Monels, titanium, copper,” says Quinn.
QA is another big focus, and to that end, the company recently acquired its second coordinate measuring machine (CMM). “We’ve really had to step up our game in the quality department,” says Quinn.
It’s also about problem-solving: One OEM customer was sourcing copper components for robotic welders without much luck. “They had sourced some very complicated parts to one of the online quoting houses,” says Quinn. “These parts were not made to spec, not even close.”
Focused on Machining went back to square one with the job. “We actually remade those parts for them from scratch. That was a pretty good success.”
While high-mix, low-volume jobs are the norm, Quinn is looking to take on higher-volume orders and orders that repeat on a regular basis. “In 2020, we added an automated horizontal cell, so we’re trying to go after some higher-volume production work with it,” he says. “That was a huge purchase. We haven’t been as successful chasing that work as I thought we would have, but that area is way more competitive than I thought.”
It’s a pivot that requires perseverance, but Quinn is not one to rest on his accolades: Focused on Machining won the Advanced Machining & Manufacturing Award at the 2021 Colorado Manufacturing Awards, and repeated as a finalist in 2022.
Challenges: “Capacity is a challenge for us,” says Quinn. “We consistently have more opportunities than we can take advantage of.”
He adds, “Personnel is a challenge, but that’s a challenge for everyone.”
Opportunities: Commercial space is a big one. “When I was thinking aerospace, I was thinking aircraft and airframe — Boeing-type work — but the aerospace work we’re doing is completely space-driven,” says Quinn. “It’s all about satellites, it’s all about the rockets, so that’s where the opportunities continue for us.”
The same level of precision and complexity are also hallmarks of other markets. “Medical is a huge opportunity for us,” he says. “We’ve started to get a few customers in medical, but we could really see a lot more.”
Most customers are Colorado-based, but the company is casting a wider geographic net with aerospace work for customers in California and elsewhere. “As we’re chasing this higher-volume production work for the horizontal, that is definitely outside of Colorado,” he says. “There’s just not a lot of higher-volume manufacturing here.”
Needs: Focused on Machining needs to roughly double the size of its 4,500-square-foot facility. “It’s becoming pretty dang tight for us,” says Quinn. “I’d like to get up to that 10,000-square-foot area — that gives us plenty of runway for growth.”
Quinn plans on acquiring 5-axis CNC equipment and adding employees once he’s got room for it. “I either need to get rid of some equipment to bring in a 5-axis, or I need to invest in a larger facility,” he says. “Until we can add to the facility, we don’t have a huge need to hire.”