How to Make Contacts in a Small Machining Business
Running a machining business takes the mind of a mathematician and the skills of an experienced machinist who knows how to manually calculate or use a computer to perform precision work. You also need marketing skills to find manufacturers willing to hire your company for precision machining of their materials. Avoid sudden down time by using a variety of methods to build contacts in the industry. That way, if one client’s machining needs suddenly change, you won’t be left out in the cold.
Take stock of the machinery you use, and of the experience and skill set that you and your employees can bring to the table. That will help you narrow down the target markets for which you can provide machining services. For instance, if you use a computer numerical control system to automate the machining process, you can take on jobs that require a speedier production rate than if you only offer manual machining. Analyze your resources for specializing in certain industries, such as machining medical components or specific types and sizes of gear shafts. Once you figure out the target market you want to approach, you’re ready to send letters and make calls to manufacturers to find out if they outsource their machining projects.
Look into government contracts for machining work to help diversify your business. The Office of Government Contracting works with small businesses to offer contracts and subcontracting work through large prime contractors. Visit FedBizOpps.gov to look for active federal contracting opportunities for machining businesses. The site allows you to search by state and keywords, such as “machining,” to view opportunities. Some states offer programs geared to help small businesses obtain work on larger projects. For instance, Arizona offers the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program, which has opportunities for providng machining services to the manufacturers that participate in the program.
Larger machining businesses may not want to take on smaller projects that your business is willing to take. Establish contact with the larger machining businesses, and describe your capabilities so the company knows the types of projects you handle. Don’t wait for the company to contact you with a project. Instead, check in with them every month or two to see if they have any projects available and to stay in their minds as a possible solution when they need extra machining capabilities.
Go to manufacturing trade shows to meet with or get the contact information for people who make decisions on contracting work to machining companies. Attend trade shows that feature the types of companies you want to work with. For example, if you primarily provide machining services on marine equipment, look for boating shows that feature lots of engine manufacturers.