JARS Inc. has carved a niche for itself as one of the great providers of precision CNC machining services for clients with low-volume specialty orders.
After taking over the small machine shop that launched in 1996, owner Richmond Teh was in the unique position of having to win over pre-existing clientele if he wanted to keep their business.
“Taking over an existing business is a double-edged sword,” says Teh. “It helps because you have existing operations that minimize the startup costs upfront and building a customer base takes time. But at the same time, the challenge is to not alienate the existing customer base.”
Quality is the name of the game
To his credit, Teh and his team more than answered the call: they actually built upon the clientele base and then some as a result of their quality and customer service.
“I have to say, I think we did well,” says Teh. “We actually had organic growth with our group of existing customers. People were able to see the value in how we were focusing on the quality of our services and products.”
Today, with such a heavy emphasis on working with clients that need low-volume orders, the biggest indicators of success for the company are providing exemplary levels of quality in machining and customer service––including offering supreme levels of malleability throughout the manufacturing process.
“For us, it’s a conscious decision to target our specific customers,” says Teh. “We’re not a high-volume shop company. What we’re trying to provide is a service and niche for people who are interested in low-volume manufacturing. We have to provide a level of customer service and flexibility to accommodate customers from many different industries.
“From what we hear from clients, our nimbleness and customer service is what really drives them to work with us again.”
Variety is the spice of customer satisfaction
An extension of the company’s exceptional customer service is its supplementary services. While the list of supplementary offerings––forming and tube bending, laser marking, assembly and installation, anodizing, plating, passivation, gear cutting, broaching, heat treating, deburring and polishing, welding, and even waterjet cutting––fall outside of its typical work, JARS Inc. recognizes what it has to do in order to keep people coming back for more.
“85 percent of what we do is machining, but we provide certain services as supplemental processes as part of the machining as part of our customer service,” says Teh.
In the seven years since stepping in, and in conjunction with targeting specific clientele, Teh has focused on diversifying the industries his AS9100 and ISO9001 certified company serves––specifically, he’s pushed to get more business in the aerospace and space launch systems sectors.
“At first, the company was predominantly 80-90 percent industrial work. We’ve since lowered that and balanced it out. Right now, aerospace and SLS are about 40 percent of the business. On a personal level, I’ve always had a fascination with aerospace, especially space launch systems. It’s something we’re interested in aligning with more.
“It also helps, of course, to diversify the business, and get into different markets. It gives us a little bit more support during tough times.”
Initially working out of the original 2,000 square foot space, JARS Inc. was at max capacity with little room to grow when Teh came aboard. But by hopping into a 5,300-square-foot space in the ensuing years, Teh and his team of nine are able to comfortably work in the shop, add additional machines when needed, and still maintain enough room for future growth.
Challenges: Inherently baked into being the machine shop for niche products, clients pay a premium to work with JARS Inc. As a result, Teh and his team have to go above and beyond in customer service and quality control in order to retain business.
“We’re upfront with our customers that low-volume exercises will be more expensive than a shop that just turns it or have a product that fits within the shop’s standard operations,” says Teh.
With such limited runs, Teh and his team have to optimize operations as often as possible.
“Internally, if you have a lot of operations that require a lot of one-offs, you have a lot of setup time. We try to be as dynamic with our machines as possible and have multiple setups going on. It’s just one of the ways we try to work around our machines running and our efficiency high.”
Needs: With JARS Inc. successfully growing its customer base and breaking into sought-after industries, the company’s biggest need remains the development of young talent in order to maintain success in the future.
“I think as a young company, I think what’s important for us is to continue to build our foundation of talent. Right now, I do a lot of the engineering work and I want to eventually build that aspect in order to provide more of a technical aspect to our customers.”
But like countless other companies in so many other industries, cultivating the interest of young talent can often be the biggest hurdle.
“In many ways, I think the lack of interest is generational,” says Teh. “It seems like young people fresh out of college tend to gravitate toward newer things, newer opportunities. It’s a natural progression––often toward tech or the medical field.
“Manufacturing is always going to be a need; people always need to make stuff. But getting people to be interested in working in the industry is another story.”
Opportunities: After successfully breaking into the aerospace world and building parts for space launch systems, JARS Inc. has an opportunity to continue to participate in the evolution of the industry.
“Right now, we have companies that can land a rocket on its own and bring it back to Earth, and there will continue to be technological advancements. We have an opportunity to be a part of those developments.
“If you’ve been able to make parts that have traveled outside our planet, that’s a pretty great feeling.”