Rick Lemson’s plan was to build a contract business based on providing quality products and service at competitive rates.
Lemson started his company, Precise CNC Routing, in 1995 in a 24 x 40 foot barn, offering CNC routing service for many different applications and materials. Today, Precise is a job shop based in Grand Rapids, Mich., that serves many industries including home office and garage cabinets, sign manufacturers and point of purchase displays.
“The initial challenges were obtaining the proper equipment infrastructure for the variety of industries served, which we have attained for the past 15 years by listening to what our customers asked for,” Lemson told CabinetMaker+FDM.
Lemson had previously worked for a company that had an Axyz router and he knew its capabilities and reliability.
“Even after looking at a few alternatives I knew this was the right machine to start my business with,” he says.
The company’s first router was an Axyz 5012 Series machine with twin cutting heads designed for high productivity. With this machine in place, Lemson started to target any local business that he thought would benefit from his CNC routing service. He soon realized that there were many opportunities and before long his company was supplying machined parts to woodworkers, signmakers, plastic fabricators, exhibition builders and others.
In their first year the business Precise CNC attracted many customers, mainly by word of mouth, but also by the reputation that Lemson was building for fast delivery and an ability to tackle a wide variety of jobs involving a diverse range of materials.
Despite having a machine that could cut two parts at the same time, the company was running at full capacity just over a year after starting. To avoid turning work away, Rick and his two sons who had joined the business needed to invest in a second machine.
This time a larger Axyz 5018 Series machine was purchased and the business was able to grow to such an extent that two more machines were added within the next three years.
All of these new machines were the 5018 Series configured with twin heads and an additional pneumatic drill. The process area on the 5018 is 70 x 216 inches which met Precise CNC’s needs. Much of the material being cut came in standard sheet lengths of eight or nine feet that can be cut in a single operation.
Two sheets at once
“The other reason for a larger process area is that it allows a standard 4 x 8 foot sheet to be loaded on the front half of the table with another one on the back half,” Lemson says. “After the front sheet has been machined the router will continue processing the sheet on the back half, allowing the operator to change out the front sheet without pausing the machine. It’s features like this that allow us to achieve such high levels of productivity.”
Precise CNC also has a Giben computerized auto feed and rear loader panel saw, two Biesse point to point machining centers including a Rover 27 with a 10-spindle tool changer, multiple heads and large process area. The shop also has computerized panel sanders along with a variety of traditional pieces such as sanders, table saw and edgebanders.
Over the years, Lemson has always looked for opportunities to add complimentary services to his routing operation that allow him to offer a wider range of products. Precise has been powder coating MDF wood products since 1999, making it one of the first companies to use this technology on wood products. The company now has two production power coat lines.
These capabilities have helped Lemson expand his business into an operation that now occupies a 66,000 square foot building and provides not just a CNC routing service but also plastic fabrication, print graphics and display services.
Lemson says that Axyz has also listened to his feedback and often uses his suggestions for product development and improvement. One such example of this was his suggestion of a “repeat cycle” function on the controller. Even with the continuous cycling of front/back machining it was still necessary to press the start button after each cycle which sometimes caused delays in productivity. Now, with this new feature, an operator can preset the number of cycles to repeat for uninterrupted operation.
“Many machine suppliers say they listen to customer feedback but often it’s only lip service,” Lemson says. “In my experience, Axyz really does listen and they really do act on it if they feel it is a valid and worthwhile suggestion for product improvement."
Precise CNC Routing now owns six Axyz routers and uses them for cutting materials ranging from 3-inch thick clear acrylic to 1 inch aluminum and 2-inch MDF.
Lemson is pleased with what he has achieved and with the help he has had from Axyz over the years and is looking forward to more growth in the future.
Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.