Executool Precision Tooling Inc.: Taking Risks To Grow



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Executool Precision Tooling Inc. (Erie, PA) was founded in 1991 by Gary Mayes—a toolmaker who worked on his own doing spare tooling jobs and repairs for several years before deciding to start his own company, which then evolved to specialize in very close tolerance molds in the medical, automotive, industrial, consumer and electrical connector industries. The company’s motto is “Right First Time” and Executool takes pride in the close relationships it has cultivated over the years. Mayes has taken a number of risks over the years, which has paid off due to his business acumen and closely controlling the growth of his company.

In addition to mold design and build, Executool provides contract manufacturing, milling, heat treating and grinding services as well as molding and sampling services. With its molding work, Executool focuses on tight tolerances of engineering-grade resin polymers.

Taking Risks to Grow the Business
Executool has experienced a number of ups and downs since its humble beginnings. “When I started the company, I brought on a partner who I used to work with and together we grew the company to 15 employees,” Mayes recalls. “We had started to build molds instead of merely building spare tooling and repairing molds.”

In 1995, Mayes split with his partner due to a difference of opinion and continued to grow the company by taking on the highly expedited projects and turning them around fast. “We were never late,” Mayes states. “We also got involved in an existing program that needed secondary deflashing operations, because the existing tooling was not good enough on 60 cavities of the same product [10,000 laminated cores]. Executool was able to make the cores and its customer did not need to deflash millions of plastics parts per year. Mayes adds that they had been deflashing for the previous eight years.

By 1999, he had 20 employees designing and building plastic injection molds mainly for the electrical connector industry since it provided good profit margins and Mayes had not yet assembled a sales team. “We began to specialize in very close tolerance molds and our customers gained confidence in us by our ability to manufacture the most intricate molds faster than our competition,” Mayes notes. “We pride ourselves in helping our customers get product to market first.”

In December of 1999, Executool had outgrown its current building. Mayes decided to purchase a design, build and run facility that was previously owned by one of his customers, Tyco Electronics. “Tyco Electronics decided they did not want a manufacturing facility in Erie anymore, so they closed the plant, putting approximately 120 people out of work,” Mayes recalls. When Mayes inquired about the building, he discovered Tyco wanted to sell it as a package (all of the machinery and the property) “We very quickly went 20 employees to 95 employees with full design, build and run capabilities by June of 2000,” Mayes says. “Then, we were mainly manufacturing molds and moldings for the telecommunications industry. This industry was flooding the market. I had never seen our industry so busy so we just started riding the wave.”

Then the stock market crashed in 2001, forcing the company to regroup as the telecom industry was the hardest hit. Mayes had to reduce his workforce to 32 employees and find ways to diversify. “I had to focus my efforts toward sales,” Mayes says. “It was the most frustrating couple years of my career.”
Once again, Mayes built up the company. Over the next several years, the company has grown again to 50 employees and specializes in the medical, automotive, industrial, consumer and electrical connector industries.

Controlled Growth
Mayes is looking forward to Executool’s continued evolution. “The challenges we have overcome in the past mainly had to do with market fluctuation,” he states. “Since then we have become much more diverse and continue to develop new customers. I don’t want any one industry to be more than 25 percent of our total business.” Mayes cites the medical device industry as an example. The company has achieved ISO 13485 (medical standard) for several years and Mayes notes it is finally starting to pay off.
Executool is also in the process of hiring a project manager and developing a sales team. Mayes has shouldered this responsibility alone since the company’s inception. “I want my new sales team to focus their efforts on the medical device industry,” he states. Executool currently has a clean room layout but had not implemented it yet. “I can have it set up in two months, but need to make sure we have enough customers to justify it.”

Mayes predicts 10 percent growth in 2013 and 15 percent for the following two years. He also wants to expand Executool’s molding facility to 20 presses and grow its tooling capabilities domestic and offshore by 25 percent over the next two years—another goal for his sales force. Clearly Mayes has mastered risk taking and will continue to carefully control Executool’s growth to ensure long-term success.

For More Information
Executool Precision Tooling Inc. / (814) 836-1141
gmayes@executool.net / executool.net