Founder and CEO Parker Dahl is boosting his startup’s machining capacity to offer customers turnkey engineering and manufacturing services.
While working as a consulting engineer in automation equipment and thrill rides, Dahl started Corvus Engineering as “a side gig.”
He left his day job by the end of 2020, made his first hire in early 2021, and continued to hire in 2022 as growth exceeded expectations. “It snowballed into enough work where I made the decision to take the plunge and go full-time,” says Dahl. “It took off in a way I didn’t actually anticipate.”
With most employees working remotely, Corvus’ focus areas are consumer products and medical devices. Many customers are individual inventors.
“We help them with the design, prototyping, prep for manufacturing, and then we also work with some really good people that source manufacturing, so we help them through that phase as well,” says Dahl. “We try to offer this system that they can come to us with a sketch and by the end of working with us through our process, you can have something you are actually selling to consumers.”
Dahl highlights a case study: the Pup Stack, an anchor for dog leashes. “He came to us with this idea, we helped him design it, we went through a lot of prototypes, a lot of 3D prints, we did some machined parts. It was a semi-complex consumer device, and he just went through a successful Kickstarter campaign and is just barely entering manufacturing.”
Jason Glad heads up the medical side of Corvus’ business. “He’s our engineering manager of medical devices,” says Dahl. “He has 20 years of experience in that industry. He’s allowed us to branch into that side of things.”
After moving the company from his Mendon garage to a 1,000-square-foot space in Nibley, Dahl also started an in-house CNC shop in late 2021 to support Corvus’ product development work. The company soon found demand for contract machining. “We do a lot of prototyping and general job shop work,” he says. The company also has 3D printing, laser-cutting, and welding capabilities.
Corvus is expanding its shop with a move to a 2,500-square-foot shop in Logan in January 2023 with plans to add more CNC machines and work toward ISO 9001 certification. “I love the idea of having dedicated machines for a few of our larger customers,” says Dahl.
Named for the genus that includes ravens and crows, Corvus has doubled its revenue every year, and Dahl says he expects the trend to continue. “I could see us doing more than that in 2023,” he notes.
It’s a much steeper trajectory then Dahl envisioned when Corvus was his side hustle. “I wanted to do my own thing, I wanted to be self-employed, but I didn’t see myself building a company per se,” he says. “There’s just been a lot of projects we’ve had the opportunity to do and hiring people has been a way to take on more work.”
Challenges: “It’s about managing growth and being smart about how we scale,” says Dahl, citing economic uncertainty as a compounding factor. “I abide by a hard rule: We do not go into debt.”
Opportunities: As many customers encountered bottlenecks in 2022, Corvus is angling to take on higher-volume machining work. “We have a really big focus now to build out our shop,” says Dahl. ISO 9001 certification “will allow us to branch out into a few other areas: aerospace and specifically medical device manufacturing is on our horizon.”
He adds, “Sometimes we get clients that are very adamant that they do not want to manufacture overseas, they want to stay U.S.-based, which is great. We love that.”
Needs: With the move to Logan, Corvus has the physical space to increase its CNC capacity with bigger and better machines. “We want to bring on a 5-axis mill,” says Dahl. “New machines will be a big focus, especially in Q1 of 2023.”
He also anticipates making another five hires in 2023: “Since one of our focuses is on the machine shop, finding the right people for that is a challenge.”