Sterling Heights, MI

Keeping a broad base of customers for their precision machining work has been an important factor in the steady growth and success of NTL Industries. Founder, Vice President, and Business Development Manager Greg McArthur says they realized early on with their experience that depending too heavily on one customer–or one particular industry–would lead to an unsustainable boom or bust cycle. With his wife, co-founder, and President, Shelley, the team has now cultivated a solid list of direct clients, fairly evenly distributed in the aerospace, automation, agriculture, defense, and automotive industries to keep their twelve employees busy. In addition to serving a variety of industries, NTL has a good mix of lower-quantity and higher-quantity production runs. The company also has reverse-engineering capabilities, although that is not an area they actively pursue right now.

With years of wide-ranging machining experience behind him, Greg had tired of working for others and felt he had the knowledge and skills necessary to go further. He and Shelley decided that starting their own business was the way to go. Clearly, family is at the heart of the business; with Greg’s father being employed there as a machinist. They originally started the company in their garage, with a machine Greg bought on eBay, and NTL Industries quickly grew into their current 6,000-square-foot facility. Now they are looking to expand further, into a larger facility with increased capabilities.  

Customer Communication is Critical

McArthur also credits the company’s communications with customers to keep them informed on the progress of their work as a key to their success. It’s paying off with retaining long-term customers, as well as bringing in new ones, with several new clients coming aboard in just this year alone, through their in-house sales efforts.  

“We’re very transparent in the way we run our shop. So that way, our customers aren’t guessing as to when they’re going to get their parts. That’s one thing that sets us apart.”

Outside sourcing for various finishes, coatings, painting, heat treating, or extremely tight tolerance work is also a very important part of meeting turnaround and quality goals for customers, and McArthur says they have strong, long-term relations with the specialized vendors they use for those outside services.  

NTL uses a wide variety of raw materials in its work, from aluminum to steel to copper to plastics, and generally has had no issues of late with acquiring what it needs in a timely manner, and at a fair price. McArthur says that customers also often provide the material for their jobs, relieving them of dealing with that extra step and complication.  

Loyal Employees Make all the Difference

Skilled workers are necessary to any machine shop operation and NTL Industries has some employees that have been with them from their earliest days, and some that have come and gone, and McArthur quips, “We’re an air-conditioned shop, so when I was pushing for some new employees, I waited for that 90-degree day, and then I put it out there.” He continues, “I’m very proud of everyone that works here.  It’s a team effort, to say the least, because, without the team, we couldn’t be where we are.”  

NTL Industries has enjoyed year-over-year growth since its start, even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, when defense work helped keep them very busy. McArthur says, “I had one customer at the time drop off two 26-foot trucks full of work at our door, and they said, ‘You’re not shutting down, this is all defense work’. They supplied all the material and did all the driving, and I didn’t have to do any outsourcing, so it was all money in the bank, so it all worked out well.”

Growth is on the Horizon

Over the next couple of years, continued growth is on the agenda for NTL, with the company looking to double the size of its current shop and add new 5-axis machines and further automation to its capabilities. The future will also likely see the addition of two or three additional employees, over the consistent dozen that the company has maintained through the last several years.  

Further expansion into serving more industries is also a goal for the company, with likely a higher penetration into aerospace, especially after the company’s recent AS certification. “Hopefully, all that will come down the pipeline,” says McArthur, “but you’ve got to walk before you run. The building comes first, then we can go from there. But, you never know. We’ve put our ducks in a row, the best we can with what we’re seeing, but we could win one contract tomorrow, and it could change your life. You can only predict what you can see in front of you, but you can always be hopeful and constantly be looking for the next thing.” Obviously, that’s good advice for any business.