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Employee Spotlight: Steve Tagget

 

Meet Steve Tagget

Steve Tagget has a pretty good idea about what he’s known for in the GLE Precision shop, he says quickly. As a production supervisor, he has to be very versed on the shop processes and capabilities.  He is a primary resource for the engineering group when questions come up about processing or capabilities.  He has been a supervisor for 17yrs and has learned to manage the many personalities that are in the shop.   He doesn’t have time for the occasional employee who pushes the limits and doesn’t want to follow rules.

“The other guys love me for not letting them get away with so much,” Steve says. “Sometimes you have to be tough. It’s the only thing that works.”  Steve’s only a tough guy when he has to be. He makes work fun but there’s a serious side to him, sales engineer Ashley Smith says.  “He knows when it’s appropriate to have fun and when to turn it off and get down to business,” Ashley says.

A We-Can-Get-it-Done Guy

Steve started working at GLE in 1979, right out of high school where he had taken trade classes to be a machinist. (“They built the building around me,” he jokes.) Steve quit grinding — he misses spending his days in the machine shop — in 2000 to become a production supervisor.  “Every day’s a new challenge. I don’t ever have a day that’s the same,” Steve says. “I supervise people, hand out jobs, schedule the workflow, make a shipping list in the morning and follow that throughout the day.

He’s now the most senior production supervisor and the go-to guy in the shop for any questions Ashley has when she brings in a new product or client. Steve works closely with the sales team, using his knowledge and decades of experience to develop the correct manufacturing process.  “You can’t be an expert on everything we do but Steve’s that generalist in everything that we do and he’s able to collaborate very closely with his team who are the experts,” general manager Clint Bucholz says. “That collaboration makes your creative vision possible.”

Steve and the GLE team have worked with NASA, a supplier who will handle much of the 5G cable that will replace 4G and the military on bore gaging for a new Army sniper rifle.  “Our capabilities in the area of precision, small holes, and surface finishes are as good as anybody they work with in the world,” Clint says. “We bring the ability to produce the tools that will make that science possible. We have products that have been on three or four space shuttle trips to outer space.”   There have only been two products the GLE team couldn’t produce in the last eight years — partly because of Steve’s positive attitude. Steve sums it up in six words: “We just don’t like to fail.”  “There’s not a we-can’t-do attitude,” Clint says. “Steve brings that we-can-get-it-done attitude.”

He leads the team in stepping back, thinking through the challenge again and trying it again in a different way. He encourages his guys to be receptive, saying, “I know that sounds crazy, but let’s try.”  That mindset has helped Steve tackle nearly 10,000 work days and enjoy the satisfaction of sending a customer away happy with a custom part.  Clint says. “We’re working with cutting-edge individuals and helping to bring their vision to reality. They can see it but they need help and collaboration in bringing their vision into reality.”

Steve’s that guy — and sometimes he takes a break from being a tough guy to travel around fishing and hunting white-tailed deer.

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Customer Satisfaction Survey Results

We would like to send a thank you to all the respondents of the GLE-Precision Customer Satisfaction Survey.  The survey was live from the end of July through early August.  Respondents of the survey were rewarded with a Yeti tumbler engraved with their name.  The biennial survey allows us to hear our customers voices in areas of concern and admiration.

Over the years with the survey results and customer suggestions, GLE has implemented open order reports along with executing an email tracking system for shipped orders.  The 2017 survey feedback included customers being satisfied with our response to inquiry time, exceeding expectations for quality and praise for our abilities in precision grinding and lapping.

Thanks again to all who participated.

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A Closer Look into Fiber Optics

 

Sometimes creative ideas and solutions take time.  In the summer of 2010, GLE Precision had a series of meetings with a customer’s key development Engineers working on technology that would be cutting edge for their industry and help drive their business into the future.  For this customer, there was a heightened state of awareness and sensitivity about the products that they were working on developing.  They were pushing the science behind the technology.

For GLE this is common to have the opportunity to work with Creative Leaders that drive their industry.  In this case the development went on for the next six years with GLE working closely with multiple individuals and team members on many R&D projects, rapidly pushing through 1 to 6 piece orders to the customer for review and evaluation.  As with any relationship it takes time but there becomes a trust in the quality of product that GLE Precision would deliver.  Then in early 2017 we learned that at least some of the products that we had worked with this customer to develop would be key for them and the future rollout of the 5G networks and technology.   This was once again an example where GLE has been on the cutting edge of critical developments and tools in industries and products across the Globe.

If you are a creative industry leader and have a vision as to where your product and technology can go and need help with components that require high finishes or tight exact tolerances, please reach out to GLE Precision and one of your Sales Engineers will be glad and excited to have the opportunity to work with you on your project.

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The GLE Team Celebrates successfully eclipsing a 1M month

 

On July 15th about 110 GLE employees and guests took in a Tigers game at Comerica Park in downtown Detroit. The Tigers downed the Blue Jays in a convincing fashion. This event was in celebration and recognition of the GLE team and their efforts in eclipsing 1M in sales for the first time in a given month.  It is always fun to break records and do new things! For some members of the GLE team, this was the first Tigers game they had ever attended. It was very exciting and a great way to spend a Saturday.  Congratulations to all on this accomplishment!

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Meet Machinist Jerry Wellman

Ask GLE Precision coworkers to describe precision machinist Jerry Wellman and they might as well be reading from a thesaurus. He’s a hard worker. He’s a dedicated individual. A company guy who’s really into his work. He’ll lose sleep thinking through a new conundrum. He just kicks out work.

“I have a lot of respect for him,” fellow shop leader Ed Gerow says. “I’d like to have a shop full of him. He’s a quality guy. Anything we do that needs tight limits, we go to him.”

Jerry comes up with different ways to finish a product, works with extreme tolerances and high finishes and contributes his expertise to developing the prototypes that GLE handles.

“We are well-known in the industry for lapping and high tolerances,” general manager Clint Bucholz says. “It’s not uncommon for our competitors to refer us. That’s because of the skills Jerry has. He makes it so easy for us to sell that product.

“Jerry works hard every day. He’s going to be the dirtiest guy leaving the building. He doesn’t irritate anyone. People work at a higher level when they move into his area, both in quality and output. He doesn’t push it. He inspires it.”

A Machinist for Every Challenge

  • More than 37 years ago, Jerry didn’t know that he wanted to be a machinist. “I just wanted a good job and I was willing to try anything. I had no idea I was going to get into machining,” he says. (A job with good benefits and air conditioning was a nice bonus.)
  • Jerry had graduated high school and started building houses with his uncle when the opportunity came along to become a machinist at GLE. He learned — and still learns — everything in the shop. He applied a few times for jobs with other companies but that was 30 years ago and the projects that land on his workbench keep testing his skills, talent and resourcefulness.

“Almost every job is a challenge. Sometimes it can be overwhelming,” Jerry says. “I’m never doing the same thing all the time. I’ll do two or three different jobs in a day, so it stops me from being bored.”

Sometimes Jerry doesn’t know why the customer needs such a high finish and what the part will be used for but “we probably give them better finishes than they ask for,” he says.

“We get to work every day with individuals who are the top in their field — fiber optics, medical, tech — and a lot of that has to do with the finishes and tolerances that we provide,” Clint says. “Being in finishes, Jerry allows us to do what the other guys aren’t able to figure out.”

Sometimes Jerry does know what the part will do when he sends it out into the world. Lately, he’s been working on a prototype of a tool for a medical company that is seeking FDA approval for its invention. The tool would allow surgeons to clamp arteries through the ribs and perform heart surgery without cracking the chest open.

“Jerry has been right there, saying, ‘No, let’s try this other thing,’” Clint says. “He’s creative in trying different things. He’s essential to developing prototypes.”

“We haven’t quite figured it out yet but we’re trying,” Jerry says of the tool. “This is going to be one that if I can figure out, yeah, that’ll be very rewarding.”

Innovation Isn’t the Hard Part

Doing something another precision machinist can’t do isn’t the hardest part of the job for Jerry. It’s trying to stay clean to keep the different grades of diamonds from mixing. Working with oil and diamond, the new guys end up coated at first. There’s sludge in the machines and in the parts and you can’t wear gloves when handling a product with close limits.

“I don’t get people lined up trying to get my job,” Jerry says. “You have no choice but to get your hands dirty. I’m at the sink five times an hour.”

The best part, though, is meeting or beating the quota for the day and finally cracking a puzzle for a customer.

“You know when you get a really tough job, you’re not really happy but if you figure it out and you get it done right, that’s rewarding,” Jerry says. “We’ve had jobs that when we first started, I didn’t know if I was ever going to be able to do them. Eventually we do by adding different operations and doing this and that, now we get them all the time and they’re easy.”

For all his success, Jerry maintains a humble assessment of himself.

“I try to be a good guy. I try to get along and I try to keep the peace. I think everybody here likes me,” Jerry says.

At the end of the day, the dirtiest, hardest-working machinist goes home to his wife, son and a Maltese named Max. In the winter, he watches sports. In the summer, he likes to go camping, though his top priority is tending a large vegetable garden and canning his crops.

“Peppers, tomatoes, onions, peas — and every year I try to experiment with something new but a lot of times it doesn’t work out,” Jerry says. “I tried the lettuce thing. I already found out I’m bad at that.”

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June is National Safety Month

June is National Safety Month

 

Injuries are the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1-44.  It is important to make a difference throughout the whole year, not just June, to spread the word about reducing the risk of injuries.  Encourage others to report unsafe conditions in communities, workplaces and at home.

 

As we enter the month of June, GLE-Precision is happy to announce we have 0 workplace injuries for 2017.  We also have 0 near-misses to report for the year.  A near miss is an unplanned event that did not result in an injury, but it had the potential to do so.

 

Please continue to work and live in a smart and safe manner and a special thank you to our team at  GLE-Precision for making safety a priority.

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GLE Purchases Second Keyence Measuring System

GLE Purchases Keyence Measuring Systems

As mentioned in a previous blog post, GLE-Precision purchased two pieces of Keyence inspection equipment in early 2017.  The first measuring equipment was the Keyence IMT-6225.  The second system purchased was the VHX-5000 digital microscope.

GLE is continuously driving higher precision on smaller parts. This is where the VHX system will help push us to the next level of inspecting parts that are small and difficult to measure by hand. The VHX comes with a wide range of different lenses depending upon application.  This microscope allows us to perform side by side image comparisons of surface finishes down to 1 micro or less.  The VHX also can fully focus a part with its real-time depth composition feature.  This feature also creates a 3D image of the part which then can be measured multiple ways and directions without having to make contact with the profile using a stylus.

With the high magnification, we can now inspect visually for porosity, cracks, fractures, and any other surface flaws within the material.  This is a feature that allows GLE to do R&D testing on new processes and materials along with providing images and feedback to our vendors and customers during the corrective action process.

As GLE continues the journey on providing the highest precision on the smallest parts, the IMT-6225 measurement system and VHX-5000 digital microscope from Keyence provide fast, accurate, and non-contact measurement capabilities for our customers.

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GLE Purchases Keyence Measuring Systems

 

In early 2017, GLE-Precision was looking to gain a faster and more accurate way to inspect parts than its current methods.  Many different manufacturers were resourced to find an instrument that could be quick, accurate, portable, and user friendly.  Two systems were purchased from Keyence.  The first piece of inspection equipment was Keyence’s IMT-6225 instant measurement system.  The second measuring system, the VHX-5000 digital microscope, will be discussed in a second blog post.

 

The first system GLE acquired is the IMT-6225, a 2D vision measurement system. The IM has a measuring capability of +/-.0002 in wide field mode and 80 millionths in high precision mode. Repeatability to 1um in wide field and .5 um in high precision modes. Wide field mode allows us to measure anything in a 4” x 8” area whereas the high precision mode allows us to measure in a 1” x 4” field. The IM can measure up to 99 dimensions within 3 seconds and with the multi-part function it allows us to measure entire batches in a few minutes versus a few hours.

 

The data capturing of the IMT system takes inspection records to the next level. Each time a part is measured, those measurements are stored in a data file. This data file can be pulled up at any time to create statistical print outs of each batch of parts being run on that certain day, week, or month. Data captured by the IM system allows us to complete a customer’s 100% inspection requirements in half the time than previous methods, if not less. This allows for more production time vs inspection time to deliver our goods on time and exceed our customers’ expectations.

 

As GLE continues the journey on providing the highest precision on the smallest parts, the IMT-6225 measurement system and VHX-5000 digital microscope from Keyence provide fast, accurate, and non-contact measurement capabilities for our customers.

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GLE implements manufacturing changes to eliminate reportable instances at a customer facility

Earlier this year, GLE received a report from a customer’s facility in which workers were cutting themselves (fingers/hands) on the sharp ID of a round gage.  The engineers at GLE quickly responded to the incident reports and received approval to change the design of the gage to include a radius on the ID versus the sharp edge.

After halting production and rerouting the jobs to include the extra operation, parts shipped to the customer in a timely manner with the radius.

Upon a follow up with the facility, the customer was happy to report, “the gages are great.  The change on the ID no longer snags on the finger, causing a cut.”

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Surface Finish Requirements

Do you require a high-quality surface finish for your products?

We can create 1 micro, mirror-like finish, for your products.

Each manufacturing process produces a different texture on the surface of the part.  At GLE-Precision we apply our grinding capabilities and experience to achieve your optimal surface finish.

We have met the specifications of our customers for over 55 years. Provide us your product print and we will promptly reply with how we can solve your product needs.

Contact us at +1-989-652-6136 or [email protected] to start a conversation or learn more about our capabilities at www.gle-precision.com.

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Short Run/ Large Quantities

Are you working on a R&D project and only require a few pieces? We can help!

Do you have a large production run and require hundreds or thousands of pieces? We can help!

At GLE-Precision, we can meet your needs for a few pieces or thousands of your precision pins, bushings or any other make-to-print parts.

Contact us at +1-989-652-6136 or [email protected] to start a conversation on how we can solve your manufacturing needs or learn more about our capabilities at www.gle-precision.com.

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Victory Park Capital Supports Acquisition of GLE with Credit Facility and Equity Co-investment in Precision Machining Industry

AUGUST 13, 2015 Press Release

CHICAGO – August 13, 2015 – Victory Park Capital (VPC), an asset management firm focused on middle market debt and equity investments, announced today its SBIC Fund has provided a senior credit facility to help finance the acquisition of GLE Precision, LLC (GLE). GLE is a precision manufacturer of tungsten carbide tooling, gauges and product components used in diversified industries, including water jet, computer chip, medical, battery, flow technologies, automotive and others. VPC’s investment will support the acquisition of GLE and the company’s growth initiatives as it expands into new end markets. In addition to the credit facility, the fund also co-invested in the equity financing.

“GLE’s reputation for technical competency, extreme micro-precision, quality and reliability is impressive, and represents a significant opportunity for VPC to support the company as it expands its presence in the precision machining industry,” said Jason Brown, partner at VPC. “We look forward to working with Mr. Bucholz and the management team and believe the company is well positioned to execute on its next phase of growth.”

Clint Bucholz, president of GLE, added, “VPC was flexible in structuring their credit facility to allow for the acquisition and to support our growth initiatives, which enables us to expand into new end markets and better serve new and existing customers.”

About Victory Park Capital

Victory Park Capital (VPC) is a privately held registered investment advisor dedicated to alternative investing through the management of its investment vehicles. As specialists in credit and private equity investments, VPC focuses on middle market companies across a diversified range of industries. Whether as a lender or a control investor, VPC seeks to identify opportunities where it believes the potential for reward outweighs the risks entailed. Founded in 2007, VPC is headquartered in Chicago with additional resources in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. For more information visit: www.victoryparkcapital.com.

About GLE Precision

Founded in 1961 and headquartered in Bridgeport, MI, GLE is a niche build-to-print manufacturer of highly-engineered tooling, gauges, and product components used in a broad range of applications where hardness and resistance to abrasive wear are of prime importance. GLE is capable of machining and grinding a wide range of ceramic and carbide products with an emphasis on carbide tooling, carbide components, carbide cylindrical gauges and masters, high pressure intensifiers, and other special wear parts. For more information visit: www.gle-precision.com.

 

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