Clinton Township, MI

Best Tool & Engineering (BTE) is a family-owned and operated plastics injection and welding business in Clinton Township, Michigan. What started as a one-man shop is now a full-scale operation with fifteen employees and two locations. 

A Family of Tradesmen 

Joe Cherluck, president and founder of BTE, was the son of a tradesman and tool shop owner, which sparked his interest in manufacturing at an early age. As a junior in high school, he completed an apprenticeship as a tool and die maker. He then received associate degrees in manufacturing, engineering, and general studies. 

“I never planned on owning my own shop,” said Cherluck. “It was something that evolved over time. As I progressed in my career, I wanted more of a challenge, so that is when I started warming up to the idea of owning my own business.”

In 1991, he bought a tooling and plastic injection molding shop that was a one-man operation and renamed it to reflect the engineering services he wanted to add: Best Tool & Engineering. 

“I saw what the shop was capable of and what I wanted it to be,” explained Cherluck.

“Ultimately, my goal was to be able to bring the entire product to market, from design to assembly.” 

Cherluck has exceeded his goal. Since its start, the company has tripled in size, diversified its portfolio, and expanded its services, while maintaining a family atmosphere. 

“I’m proud to say that around ten family members have worked here over the decades,” said Cherluck. “When I retire, I plan to keep the business in the family.”

Hot Plate Welding and Staying Competitive

Best Tool & Engineering offers plastic injection molding, vibration welding, hot plate welding, and tool manufacturing services. The company aims to solve plastics problems for projects in any market.

“When people ask what markets we serve, I always respond by asking, ‘Where can you find products that contain plastic?’” said Cherluck. “The answer is everywhere. Our services are customizable to customers’ needs so that we can help in any market.”

When asked what sets BTE apart from its competitors, Cherluck said welding parts and handling distribution for customers.

Early in his career, Cherluck saw an opportunity to introduce plastic welding to lower-volume customers, which is now a service BTE offers. The company specializes in low to mid-volume production of up to 75,000 parts annually. 

“Plastic Hot plate welding has helped us diversify and grow our business,” said Cherluck. “It is completely different than what our competitors are doing. You can see that by simply Googling hot plate welding in Michigan. We are a top result, and we didn’t pay for that spot.”

Another way the company has also set itself apart from competitors is by growing into a full-scale distribution center. 

“During COVID, a client came to us with a physical fitness product called the Hero Board,” explained Cherluck. “We helped them with the product design, and then they asked us if we could handle the assembly, packaging, and shipping. It worked out and that’s how we started offering assembly and distribution services.” 

Technology and Enterprise Resource Planning

To ensure the company operates efficiently and effectively, it has invested in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, which helps manage day-to-day business activities such as scheduling, project management, and supply chain operations. 

“We managed everything on paper before integrating ERP software into our business,” said Cherluck. “Now we can budget, predict, and report on a project before it starts, so a customer knows what to expect and when to expect it.”

The company has also invested in additional technology, including two 5-axis CNC machines and a wire electrical discharge machine (EDM).

“The new machines we’ve invested in focus on precision cuts and faster processing,” said Cherluck. “Both give us a competitive advantage.”

Eight Points of Growth

Best Tool and Engineering has grown significantly in the past three decades. To continue to meet the demands of customers and the industry, the company has identified eight points of growth: people, marketing, sales, leadership, operations and processes, opportunities, being bankable, and actions for growth. 

“The eight points of growth apply to any company looking to continue growing and staying sustainable,” Cherluck said. “The main points we are currently focused on are people, marketing, sales, and operations.”

Cherluck explained how the company has invested in people and tools to enhance sales and marketing efforts—something it had never done before. 

“We relied on word of mouth and referrals, but you can only grow so far that way,” Cherluck admitted. “Now, we have invested time and resources into digital channels like our website and started a YouTube channel. We also started attending tradeshows.”

The company has also identified people as a main focus point for growth. The labor shortage is a concern across all industries. Cherluck expressed how high schools lack the curriculum and equipment to teach students interested in a trade, which presents future workforce issues.

To combat this issue, BTE partnered with Ryan Pohl of Praeco Skills to offer a 15-week hands-on course for Michigan high school students at its shop. The course focuses on three areas: engineering, CNC machining, and assembly. The goal is to help students interested in a trade develop their skills and build a pipeline of future talent for the industry.

The Future for Best Tool & Engineering

BTE is on an exciting growth journey. From a one-man shop to a full-scale business with fifteen employees and two locations, the company has stayed competitive and profitable by maintaining a mindset focused on innovation, problem-solving, and quality. The company is looking forward to continued growth in the healthcare and defense/government sectors.