One year ago, Parker Holding Inc. and Gerri Davis-Parker, its president and CEO, entered the metal fabrication industry with the acquisition of CNC Products Inc., located in Niles, Mich. CNC Products has been providing sheet metal fabrication services for more than 30 years, including a variety of products from small brackets to complete cabinets. Its diverse customer base includes customers throughout Michigan as well as Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and as far away as Colorado, in a variety of industries including the medical, industrial, automotive, food and dairy, transportation and electronics markets.
Founded in 1946, in Gary, Ind., Parker Holding typically acquires and manages smaller and mid-size companies that are family-owned but don’t have a succession plan in place. The goal is to improve the company’s efficiency and profitability, while growing market share. Parker Holding also focuses on keeping longstanding employees to ensure continuity of customer service and maintain a cohesive workforce.
Fritz Knauf founded CNC Products in 1987. After decades of building the company, Knauf was ready to retire but didn’t have anyone interested or capable of taking over the business. Parker Holding stepped in and has seen some great success in its first year.
Except for a couple of retirements, 100 percent of CNC Products’ employees were retained, who together have “a combined 245 years of metal fabrication knowledge and experience,” Davis-Parker says. Combined with a solid customer base, this allowed the new ownership to waste no time in making machine upgrades in the job shop.
Davis-Parker especially understands both sides of buying and selling a family-owned business. After spending 10 years as a police officer, she eventually ended up as president and CEO of Truck City, becoming a third-generation business owner in the family-owned class A truck dealership.
After selling the truck company in 2016, Davis-Parker “tried to retire” but it didn’t last and before long she was looking for a manufacturing company to buy. “I like manufacturing,” she says. “I like real people making real, tangible things. I’m a hands on person. I grew up around big trucks on the sales floor but my favorite part of the dealership was the shop floor where people worked with their hands.”
CNC Products offered a multitude of benefits to a potential buyer. Boasting ISO 9001:2008 certification, the facility offers everything from complex, custom and precision sheet metal cutting, forming and punching services to powder coating, assembly and packaging services to in-house engineering services to assist with CAD design drawings. Volumes range from one offs up to around 500 pieces. In addition to sheet metal, CNC Products routinely works with structure channels, tubing and plate steel. Part sizes range from small tweezers for a medical company to large 5,000 and 6,000-gallon non-pressurized liquid tanks.
“One customer makes ovens to bake batteries in,” Davis-Parker says. “The oven itself is almost the size of a semi-trailer. We build it in two parts. But the replacement parts we make can be as small as a 12-in. ruler.
“Another order that is apropos to our time is from a customer making equipment that would be used in locker rooms and other such places to treat bacteria, mold and viruses. But now the treatment has been CDC approved and awaiting FDA approval, and we’re ramping up for a large order to make the cabinets used for the equipment.”
From the beginning, the new ownership invested in the company’s future with new fiber laser and press brake equipment. “CNC Products’ customer base was outstanding and we’ve retained 100 percent of our customers,” Davis-Parker says. “However, the equipment was lacking. Most of the equipment was outdated. They were shearing and using a turret punch press to do everything.
“That’s why we invested in the equipment as early as we did,” she adds. “We needed to jumpstart the company and our laser and press brake purchase was the first step in moving the company into 21st century metal fabrication.”
The 2020 model LVD Strippit Lynx FL-3015 2 kW laser source was an ideal entry into fiber laser cutting. With a modest investment, the laser still cuts ferrous and non-ferrous materials reliably with excellent cut quality. It offers a virtually maintenance-free laser source, high wall plug efficiency and integrated Siemens CNC control and drive system. The maximum sheet size is 3,000 mm by 1,500 mm and tubes and profiles can also be processed.
CNC Products also invested in a 2020 model LVD Strippit PPED press brake working in tandem with the LVD laser. PPED Series hydraulic press brakes offer a multi-axis backgauge, CNC V-axis crowning system and 15-in. version of LVD’s Touch-B graphical icon-driven CNC controller. Combined, these machine features provide flexibility and enhanced capability for a variety of bending applications. They are available in different models from 50 to 320 metric tons with different bend lengths; CNC Products’ machine is 150 US tons with a 120-in. bend length.
Proprietary Cadman software operates the LVD laser and press brake. CNC Products purchased the press brake and the laser together to take advantage of the benefits of the software operating the two pieces of equipment together.
Regarding the LVD Strippit investments, “First and foremost, we have seen a tremendous improvement in quality and reduced lead times,” Davis-Parker says. “We have improved our capacity and the ability to increase our service offerings to both existing and new customers. Customers have noticed, too. In fact, one customer’s customer thought they had changed vendors because the quality was so much higher. The welders and assembly guys also appreciate how straight and square the parts are now because our tolerances have gotten so much tighter. We’re receiving rave reviews for our quality.”
The new equipment investment allowed CNC Products to pick up new customers and the company plans to continue with more investments, such as spot welders and rollers. It is in the process now of disassembling its two oldest turret punch presses from the 1950s for additional floor space. Some of the other older equipment, however, is running just fine for now.
“We are keeping a third one from the 1970s that we do still use,” Davis-Parker says. “We do a lot of work for other shops in the area too because no one has a 30-ton turret punch press. People have kind of moved away from using them. But they are excellent for putting on truck step treads and RV floors. Our turret punch press allows us to punch and form certain products in a one-step process. Step treads, vent forms and extruded designs are easily handled by our punch press.”
Before the purchase, Davis-Parker and her team went to Buffalo, N.Y., to see a machine demo to help them make their decision. “We are very pleased with the entire process, including the impressive support provided by the folks at LVD Strippit,” she says. “They have stepped up every time we have needed advice, instruction and guidance. We aren’t a big customer, but they’ve treated us like someone buying 10 machines. LVD Strippit has proved to be an invaluable partner to CNC Products.”