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Rochester Chamber Top 100: Firm's parts are key to whole lot of business

Rochester Business Journal
August 19, 2016


(Photo by Kimberly McKinzie)

Spex Precision Machine has built its success by helping other companies build from the inside out.

“Everybody needs nuts, bolts and pins,” said Michael Nolan, president and owner of the company, which is formally Precision Machine Technologies LLC. “We support infrastructure type industries: the people who make everything from appliances to automobiles. Everything you see has small metal parts.”

Spex began in 1948 as a tool and die supplier, providing tooling to the local manufacturing sector. It entered the manufacturing field in the early 1970s, producing made-to-order precision fittings. It has grown steadily, marking its 10th year on the Rochester Top 100 list of fastest growing private companies in 2015.

Nolan and his wife, Wendy, also own and operate the I-Square LLC development in Irondequoit.

Nolan said he sees continued growth through expanded product lines and new customer development.

“The electronic world is changing, with a focus on renewable energy. That is a growing industry, and the medical industry is big for machining,” Nolan said. “Quality consistency is important and certain industries have stronger demands on the product you provide.”

The majority of customers for Spex are outside New York and across the country. It has international accounts in Mexico, South America, Ireland and Germany.

Its revenue grew from nearly $12.8 million in 2013 to $15 million in 2014, then dipping in 2015 to $14.2 million. Employment declined from 62 in 2013 to 50 in 2014 and rebounded to 57 in 2015. The company has 55 employees now.

The recruitment of skilled labor is one of the top challenges Nolan faces as he works to keep pace with his company’s growth.

“Machinery today is far more automated, but the human element will always be a large part of what we do,” Nolan said. “If we made the same part all day long we could automate everything we do, but we make 600 to 700 part numbers and that requires people to load, unload and troubleshoot. This will always be a people industry.”

Spex trains many of its workers in-house. Starting pay is minimum wage; more experienced workers may earn up to $25 an hour. Employees are encouraged to take advantage of the company’s education assistance that pays full tuition at Monroe Community College for those wishing to pursue a certificate or associate degree in the school’s applied technology program.

“We do our best to encourage interest in learning about the machine industry,” Nolan said, adding Spex opens its doors to high school students for tours of the company. “These are good paying technical jobs.”

Spex opens doors for other companies in Rochester by subcontracting with them on many of its accounts.

“We purchased over $6 million in parts from other companies locally last year. We bring a lot of business to our area,” Nolan said.

There are 34 manufacturing companies Spex turns to for support.

He estimates Spex outsources 50 percent of the products it sells, which is a benefit for his company and his customers as well as the local subcontractors.

“For our customers, it’s nice to have a one-stop shop. For us, it opens doors. Otherwise we would have to have hundreds of other people and machines to manufacture all the custom parts we need,” Nolan said. “For the smaller companies, with just a four- or five-person shop, they don’t have the capability to service such large accounts. We’re giving them access they might not otherwise have.”

The Nguyen, owner of Accuturn Precision Manufacturing Inc., is appreciative of the opportunities. His company has subcontracted with Spex for several years.

“Ten percent of our business is from Spex,” Nguyen estimated, noting his annual company revenue topped $1.5 million last year

Accuturn, located on Bermar Park in Gates, employs 10 people. The company began in Nguyen’s garage and has been in operation since 1997.

“Spex has sent us quite a few jobs. We provide screws, bolts and parts that are highly specialized. It’s very precision,” Nguyen said. “My company is still growing and it means a lot to work with Mike.”

For Spex, sharing the business through subcontracting becomes a good deed that comes full circle by strengthening relationships and helping all of the involved companies to grow.

lgable@rbj.net / 585-546-8303

The Rochester Chamber Top 100 program is presented by the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and KPMG LLP. Launched in 1987, it recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Greater Rochester. The 2016 Rochester Top 100 event will be held Nov. 3. For more information, go to greaterrochesterchamber.com.

Spex Precision Machine
Manufacturer and distributor of machined components
Year Founded: 1948
Top executive: Michael Nolan, owner and president
Current employment: 55
2015 ranking: 83
Headquarters: Rochester
Website: www.spex1.com

8/19/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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