Zack Bishop, founder and president of 4 Flutes Machining, started the company with one computer numerical control (CNC) machine in a pole barn in 2018.
Today, the company has grown to be a high-end precision machining business with eight full-time employees, 2 part-time employees, eight pieces of CNC equipment, a brand-new 5 AXIS robotic machine cell, and more. “As our business has grown, we have been able to invest in new equipment and machines that can be used to complete nearly any machining project from start to finish,” said Bishop.
Bishop was first introduced to the machining industry by his dad’s oldest friend Mike Hill, who was a millwright at a local papermill. His interest continued to grow during his first co-op. “The more I learned about the machining industry and the opportunities for innovation, the more interested I became in growing my own capabilities,” explained Bishop.
Innovation and technology are two main factors in the growth of the global machining market. According to CNC Machine Tools Global Market Report 2023, the global CNC machine tools market is valued at $26.83 billion for 2023 and is expected to reach $32.46 billion by 2027.
Scaling to Meet Customer Demands
About a year after starting 4 Flutes Machining, Bishop was approached by a client for an opportunity to do outsourced work for Kellogg’s and their Eggo waffle project. “We were asked by Kellogg’s to help make innovation grids for their waffle projects,” Bishop recalls. “It was an amazing opportunity. However, at the time, I was still operating with only one CNC machine out of the pole barn. That was when I knew it was time to make some changes, so that we could continue to scale the business and support more customers.”
Bishop moved the company from the pole barn to an industrial park in Vicksburg, Michigan, where it is still headquartered today. “The partnership with Kellogg’s was a pivotal point in our company’s history,” said Bishop. “We still work with the company today and consider them to be one our best and favorite customers.”
Services and Industries
4 Flutes Machining services many industries, including aerospace, defense, medical, food & beverage.
The company’s products have helped manufacture products including:
- Prototype Medical Devices
- Rocket Thrust Engine Components
- Hydraulic Power Equipment
- Airplane parts and landing gear components
Bishop explained that aerospace and defense has proven to be the most lucrative industry. “We partner with the Department of Defense to help with new weapon system development,” said Bishop. “Currently, most of our business comes from customers who need rocket ship, aircraft, and ground-vehicle components.”
To further its commitment to servicing customers in the defense and aerospace industries, 4 Flutes Machining became International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) registered and ensures all parts are now Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) certified. “Gaining our ITAR and DFARS certification has been huge for us,” said Bishop. “It shows our commitment to quality and excellence.”
As they continue to grow, the company expects to move further into the defense and aerospace industries, as well as the growing electrical vehicle industry.
Connected to Their Local Roots
One thing that sets 4 Flutes Machining apart from its competitors is being an American-born company that only partners with suppliers in the U.S.
“We are proud to do all our business domestically and play a part in building up the U.S. economy,” states Bishop. “We are also very involved in our local community, including the Vicksburg Area Planning Commission and Chamber of Commerce. It is important to us to continue to make a positive impact in the areas that we operate in.”
Although small compared to some of its competitors, 4 Flutes Machining believes its size is an advantage. It allows them to stay connected to their local roots and continue to work directly with customers from ideation to completion.
“For many of our customers, we are one of the smallest suppliers they have,” explains Bishop. “They choose to work with us because we are hands-on. All of our customers have my personal cellphone number, so that they can reach me anytime. It has helped build strong relationships and sets us apart from the competition.”
Investing in High-End Technology
Having a facility with art-of-the-state technology and equipment has also set 4 Flutes Machining apart from the competition. Some of the technology that they use includes CAD/CAM software, CNC Turning Centers, 3 & 4-axis Milling Machines, and most recently a brand-new, top-of-the-line 5-Axis, robotically loaded machining center.
“Our 5 AXIS Machines are the most cutting-edge technology that we have and represent the direction that we’re heading,” said Bishop. “About 98% of the world’s machining work can be done on 3+2 axis machines. The 5 AXIS machine enables us to do the other two percent of the work. The robotic pallet changer has increased our productivity by giving us unmanned hours to use for production. It’s truly been a game-changer.”
The Future of 4 Flutes Machining
In the last five years, 4 Flutes Machining has grown tremendously. When asked what the company’s plans were for the future, Bishop said it was to continue to grow and innovate.
“It is an exciting time to be in the machining industry,” expressed Bishop. “Especially for innovators who enjoy problem-solving. As a company, we plan to continue to grow our manpower and technology capabilities, so that we can continue to deliver value to our customers.” Bishop encourages potential new customers to reach out for a conversation for help on any of their manufacturing needs.