Philip Paull, of Noblesville, Ind., owner of Excavating Solutions
, won the Hurco Chipmaker Challenge Championship at IMTS in Chicago last week. The prize package Paull won includes a brand new Hurco CNC mill worth more than $100,000, a tooling package from Sandvik Coromant and $10,000 of Hurco bucks that can be used for training or machine options.
“Hurco sponsored the Chipmaker Challenge to bring attention to manufacturing entrepreneurs, and we also thought this idea of ‘reality TV meets CNC’ might resonate with young people,” says Maggie Smith, Marketing Director of Hurco Companies.
“We are very appreciative of all of the participants who took the time to finish the rigorous application process. We based the initial application and essay guidelines on business planning basics in hopes it would benefit the applicants in their entrepreneurial ventures even if they didn’t make it to the championship in Chicago. Additionally, we are thankful we had such a uniquely qualified panel of judges to help us [Art Haase, of Vincennes University; Robbie Buhl, former IndyCar driver and team owner, and founder of Racing for Kids; Jim Hubbard, SCORE consultant from Valparaiso, Ind.; Eric Zaluski, owner of ProspectTrax; and advisory judge Gabe Draper, owner of Draper Manufacturing.] All of our judges dedicated an immense amount of time reviewing the applications and preparing for the live event in Chicago.” continued Smith.
The winner, a lifelong excavator, started his new business out of necessity when the housing market crashed in 2008. With idle equipment sitting in his lot and very little work scheduled, he knew he had to reinvent himself. That’s when he dedicated himself to developing technology that would make the process of excavating more efficient.
The result was the IDigBest, a control system for excavating equipment that was designed and built by excavators for excavators. “The system is visually appealing and loaded with one-touch convenient functions to tackle any project. The hook is providing an operator the confidence and ability to pull grade, perfectly whenever it is required the most seasoned pro knows with one touch that he has left the perfect ditch and a newer operator can focus on managing the dig, loading trucks all the while knowing when it comes to the most critical phase, he will perform at the flip of a switch,” explained Paull.
The Chipmaker Challenge, which was loosely modeled after the television show Shark Tank, began in July with an application period that was open to startups and companies that had been in business five years or less. Paull was one of seven finalists whose application earned him a chance to compete at championship held at the IMTS Hurco booth.
The finalists pitched their business plan to the panel of judges and answered their questions. There were four judges at the event who evaluated the finalists and the fifth judge was the online vote. Online voting started Aug. 30 and ended Sept 8 via Hurco.com and Facebook. More than 10,000 votes were cast with the winner of the online vote being Jason Merrell of Wolf pack Motorsports in California. Wolfpack is an off-road racing team that began manufacturing parts for these vehicles and parts to retrofit the vehicles for disabled veterans.
However, the online vote wasn’t enough to earn Wolfpack the title of Chipmaker Challenge Champion. The judges provided their first, second, and third place picks, and each one was given 25, 10, and 5 points respectively. The other finalists were Jordan Hill of Middle Coast Custom in Wisconsin; Wade Moore of Moore Engineering in Connecticut; Ben Noordhoek of On Time Machining in Michigan; Richard O'Neal of Zel Technologies in Florida; Philip Paull of Excavating Solutions in Indiana; Dakota Sodergren of DKS Machining in Washington; and Jason Merrell of Wolfpack Motorsports in California.