SWISS TURNED COMPONENTS | (262) 743-1700

Stefan Brusky of Tsugami/Rem Sales Rebuilds a Petermann No. 0 Lathe, and Brings Swiss Precision History to the 21st Century

Michael Reader

Stefan Brusky serves as Midwest Regional Sales Manager at Tsugami/Rem Sales Machine Tools. Rem Sales is the exclusive North American importer of Tsugami’s extensive range of Swiss precision CNC machines and tools. This technical sales position keeps Brusky quite busy, as he oversees Tsugami/Rem’s sales operations in Minnesota, North Dakota, Northern Illinois, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Machines have been a part of Stefan Brusky’s life from the time he can remember, learning all about them hands-on from his father. However, he admits that one of his favorite pastimes has always been taking engines and machines apart and rebuilding them. “I typically don’t work from plans,” he says, “I’ve been rebuilding engines and machines since I was 14 years old…so I know how these things work.”

A few years ago, Brusky came across a No. 0 Petermann Swiss-Auto lathe, which was collecting dust in his father’s basement and appeared to be in dire need of restoration. So, he took it upon himself to take it apart and rebuild it…”a fun labor of love that took about two months to complete,” he adds.

The Petermann automatic lathes originate from the French-speaking town of Moutier in Switzerland, one of the most important Swiss watch and Swiss precision centers, also the home of Swiss precision pioneers such as A. Bechler and Tornos.

The Swiss precision industry was revolutionized in the 1870s by the introduction of the automatic lathe, where some its actions could be mechanically automated, by being driven by flat belts from overhead line shafting. By 1930, most Swiss-Auto machines had self-contained drives with built-in motors and countershafts or speed-change gearboxes. However, their complex design did not yield the spindle speeds range the industry consistently demanded.

Petermann solved this issue when the company introduced its No. 0 model, accomplished “by passing the drive through a simple gearbox fitted with ‘pick-off’ wheels that the operator could change himself.” This pre-WWII jewel, was the smallest Petermann lathe, and was intended “for material up to 4 mm (0.157″) diameter in brass, and 2.5 mm (0.098″) in steel.” Additionally, with the No. 0 model, Petermann also was able to introduce the ‘micro-differential apparatus’, where a micrometer was mounted on the end of each tool holder, which allowed for very precise adjustments when making small parts. “The first setting took accuracy to within 0.01 mm of turned diameter and the second to within 0.001 mm (0.00004″).” Petermann subsequently produced larger machines that could handle diameters up to 30 mm.

For Brusky, rebuilding the No. 0 Petermann Swiss-Auto lathe meant experiencing the history of an industry he loves. Over 200 parts came apart and came together after castings were blasted and repainted, ways were hand scraped, and missing parts were made and incorporated. Today, Stefan Brusky’s No. 0 Petermann  is a completely restored, operational and fully functional gem and piece of history.

Fully-involved in today’s Swiss precision industry, Stefan Brusky has shown his Petermann No. 0 Swiss-Auto lathe at trade shows, and has granted Precision Plus the opportunity to showcase this amazing piece of Swiss precision history.

Stefan Brusky and his wife Barbara, also own and run SJB Engineering LLC, where they design and produce fly fishing reels, medical parts, and are also involved in gunsmithing and rebuilding machinery.

Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus and the Precision Plus Team give Stefan Brusky a shout out on his outstanding job for rebuilding the Petermann No. 0, and for reminding us of the arduous work and achievements made by so many to make our industry what it is today. ”This is a skill that may soon to be lost if we cannot find the next generation willing to embrace it and carry on the legacy of great accomplishments,” notes Reader.

Precision Plus Completes Recertification of ISO 9001:2008 Accreditation Status

Michael Reader

Precision Plus of Elkhorn, Wisconsin has recently completed a recertification audit to remain accredited as an ISO 9001:2008 organization. The audit was conducted by an independent third-party auditor.

ISO (the International Organization for Standardization) is a worldwide federation of national standards bodies representing 162 member countries, which collectively develop international standards for products, services and systems. The ISO is an independent, non-governmental organization with standards that aim to ensure quality, safety and efficiency, and are instrumental in global trade.

The ISO 9001:2008 Standard refers to the requirements for an organization to have a quality management system in place that meets the requirements outlined by ISO, which are generic in nature and can be met by any organization “regardless of type, size and product provided.”

According to ISO, any organization seeking to meet these requirements:

  • needs to demonstrate its ability to consistently provide product that meets customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements, and
  • aims to enhance customer satisfaction through the effective application of the system, including processes for continual improvement of the system and the assurance of conformity to customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.

Dale Wittlieff, Director of Quality and Continuous Improvement at Precision Plus (PPI) is responsible for ensuring the company meets the requirements set by ISO. When he joined the company in 2012, Wittlieff was charged with the task of reengineering PPI’s quality management system, which has been since followed by maintaining and improving on the system’s effectivity by means of continuous assessment.

Audits of PPI’s quality management system occur every three years over 3.5 days, with 1.5 days surveillance audits scheduled for the two years in between. For all audits, Precision Plus must present work instructions, procedures and documented evidence to show their system’s compliance with the standard.

This year, ISO has revised and released ISO 9001:2015 and replaces the 2008 version. This update increases the requirement sections from eight to ten, includes new areas such as risk management, and removes some items. Dale Wittlieff has already begun planning out the reengineering process required for Precision Plus to meet the 2015 standards.

Wittlieff is also responsible for coordinating audits required by customers whose mission-critical products demand a thorough assessment of PPI’s quality management system. Accountability and documented evidence are a major part of the process.

For more information, please contact Dale Wittlieff by email or by calling 262-743-1700.

Precision Plus of Elkhorn, WI To Hold a MFG DAY 2015 Event on October 8th

Michael Reader

Manufacturing Day℠ (MFG DAY) commemorates modern manufacturing with an annual celebration. The principal goal of this day, typically held in early October, is to inspire the next generation of manufacturers.

Precision Plus of Elkhorn, WI will hold a MFG DAY event on Thursday, October 8, 2015, from 5:00 pm until 7:30 pm. Presentations and tours for students and the public are scheduled to start every half an hour. Following each tour, there will be a Q&A session and refreshments will be served. Precision Plus asks that no open-toed shoes be worn.

For highlights and a slide show of Precision Plus’ 2014 MFG DAY celebration, click HERE.

You may register for Precision Plus’ MFG DAY event online NOW, or by calling 262-743-1700.  For more information on this event or to schedule a tour on a different day, please contact Mark Beilman, Director of Education and Training.

We look forward to a full house!

A Note from Mike Reader

Michael Reader

It is hard to believe summer, as we know it, is coming to a close: students are returning to school and Labor Day is right around the corner.  It has gone by quickly, but has left us with much to reflect upon as we head into the next season.

As time passes, it creates new opportunities for ideas to blossom into reality, and for changes to take place. I want to share with you some of the most significant events time brought through Precision Plus over the summer.

Change of the Guard

Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training, who joined our team 25 months ago, has chosen to return to the education field. As a career educator, and very accomplished one at that, he set out to learn everything he could about manufacturing from “Day One,” as he walked in the front door.

His energy and willingness to help anyone with a question quickly showed –even the most skeptical–why we had brought Barry on board.  His engagement with people spanned from those already in the building, to those outside unaware of the wonderful career opportunities in today’s manufacturing environment.

Barry immersed himself in learning all facets of what we do in order to help us improve and to share the story with students, educators and parents.  Like everything else Barry had set to do in his life, he excelled while making a positive impact on everyone he interacted with.

Sadly for me and the Precision Plus Team, Barry has transitioned back into public education to continue his passion for working with young adults.  Our loss, is Beloit Memorial High School’s gain, where Barry will be back in the classroom teaching advanced math and other Project Lead The Way (PLTW) classes.

Goodbye is too permanent a word, so I say farewell my good friend.  May your journey continue to influence the next generation of leaders, problem solvers and difference makers.  You will be missed, but never forgotten. I truly hope we will find a way to continue the work started with you, even if in a smaller scale.  Big shoes to fill.

Into them, however, steps another difference maker.  Mark Beilman, former Tech Ed instructor from East Troy High School, joined our team on August 3rd, to take the reins from Barry and lead our education and training efforts.   Mark brings a balanced background, with experience in manufacturing as well as education, which has helped him hit the ground running, as he explains in his introductory letter.  Please join me in giving Mark a warm welcome.

Customer/Employee Surveys

Our quest to be a better vendor/partner, community members and employer is an ongoing effort.  This summer, we have been working with the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater and the Wisconsin Innovation Service Center to learn more about ourselves through how our customers and employees perceive us.

To accomplish this, we have conducted both customer and employee surveys.  Let me personally thank all of you who participated, and please know all your comments are important to me, including those that point out our flaws, as they clearly represent opportunities for improvement.

Internally, we have started conversations to address each of these and we are working aggressively to do better as we build upon all the positives already in place.  You will likely see a few additional short surveys in the months to come and I thank you in advance for your honest feedback.

Gateway Technical College Elkhorn Manufacturing Center

Our partnership with Gateway Technical College (GTC) continues to grow and evolve.  Together with Mark Beilman, we were given a private tour of the Elkhorn Campus Manufacturing Lab, following the arrival of four brand new Haas SL-10 lathes and one Tsugami S205 Swiss-type CNC lathe fitted with a high pressure coolant pump and a MTA tracer magazine barfeeding system.

Many thanks go to Dr. Bryan Albrecht of GTC for listening to the business community and embracing the opportunity to be a leader in Southeast Wisconsin technical education.

Our heartfelt appreciation must also go out to the equipment manufacturer partners that stepped up with VERY generous donations to make this dream come true.  Brad Morris of the Morris Group and Jamie Schwarz of CNC Indexing & Feeding Technologies both offered state-of- the-art equipment at a substantial discount.

Furthermore, I am thrilled to announce that PartMaker Software and GTC have forged a long-term agreement to provide computer aided manufacturing (CAM) software for the students in the Manufacturing Lab.  Hanan Fishman, President of Delcam/PartMaker deserves a big “Thank you!” for making this happen.  Only with the support of industry leaders like Brad, Jamie and Hanan, could the Manufacturing Lab become a reality.

Mecco Laser Marking System

In the meantime, Precision Plus continues to invest in technologies to add value for our customers/partners, the latest addition being a laser marking system by Mecco.  It is a 20-watt fiber laser with a 110 x 110 mm field fitted with a rotary stage and powered z-axis to enable us to mark around round parts.  Paul McDonough has completed the installation validation and it is “open for business.”  An article about Paul and the Mecco Laser Marking System is available for you to read HERE.

Solar Array

As of August 7th, our solar array became functional, and continues to generate energy–even on cloudy days. Our appreciation goes to Neil Fleischhacker for coordinating this project as well as other green initiatives. Recent statistics and a video of the installation are available HERE.

2015-2016 Apprentices

Precision Plus will soon welcome our 2015-2016 apprentices, and we are diligently planning a fall schedule that includes school visits, career and technical education committee meetings, MFG Day celebrations, and much more.

I look forward to continue to update you on Precision Plus

-Mike

Precision Plus’ Solar Array Stats: CO2 Emission Saved: 15,189.97lb; Equivalent Trees Planted: 390.04; Light Bulbs Powered: 30,305.88 For a Day

Michael Reader

Today is August 29, 2015, at approximately 12 pm. It is a cloudy day in Elkhorn, WI, with the temperature barely making it over 60°F, and 80% chance of storms. Yet, the solar array installed on Precision Plus’ rooftop, is currently generating 22.46 kW of power (of its potential 99 kW), having produced 34.8 kWh so far today. Somewhat low, if compared with the total 649.523 kWh generated August 11th, a sunny day. But it’s cloudy and it is raining.

Since the array went live on August 7, 2015, it has produced more than 10MWh of energy. All things considered (sunny and cloudy days in Elkhorn, Wisconsin) the solar array is predicted to produce about 6.5% of the power consumed by Precision Plus

The installation, under the supervision of Kettle View Renewable Energy, LLC of Random Lake, WI took about a month to complete. The video below documents its progress. The images and the video within, are courtesy of Neil Fleischhacker, Facilities Manager at Precision Plus, who was also responsible for this project.

To read more about Precision Plus’ solar array, click HERE.

For any questions or comments, please contact Neil Fleischhaker by phone or email.

Gateway Technical College Elkhorn Campus Launches First Midwest Micro Machining Advanced Manufacturing Lab

Michael Reader

By Dana Runimas-Plazyk
Reporting for Precision Plus

Recently, I had the pleasure of talking with Dr. Bryan Albrecht, President of Gateway Technical College (GTC), about the launch of a micro machining (Swiss screw machining) advanced manufacturing facility at the school’s Elkhorn, WI Campus.

When Albrecht joined GTC as its president in 2006, he was charged with creating curricula that directly responded to the need for a highly skilled workforce by Southeast Wisconsin employers, imperative to have in place in order to grow the local economy. He began his tenure by holding “listening sessions,” with local businesses, to enable GTC to understand that need.

The requests were vast and included a ready workforce need for manufacturing, HVAC, IT, health sciences, aeronautic, automotive, hospitality, law enforcement and everything in between. Over the last nine years, many programs have been developed and are successfully in place, addressing the needs of the local business community. Today, Gateway Technical College operates from three campuses in Racine, Kenosha and Walworth counties, and offers advance technical certificates, associate degrees, technical diplomas, and certificates, some online classes, and dual enrollment options with the University of Wisconsin, Parkside.

“On an annual basis, 23,000 students attend Gateway,” says Albrecht. “We currently offer 100 certificate programs and 65 degree programs. Last week alone, we graduated EMS technicians, certified police officers, and SharePoint developers. Additionally, we are working with primary and secondary schools on K12 articulation.”

However, Albrecht points out that in as much as the workforce needs of manufacturers in Kenosha and Racine counties had been met, GTC “couldn’t wrap up” their thoughts for the needs of manufacturers in Walworth County.

He recalls meeting Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus, in 2012 at a career and technical education advisory committee meeting. “Mike’s concern about the lack of a qualified workforce to address the requirements of Walworth County manufacturers struck a chord,” says Albrecht. “Mike and Precision Plus were adamant about changing the situation, and had launched, single-handedly, an educational initiative geared to correct this issue, while bringing attention to–and gaining the support of–educators, organizations and legislators.”

“Changing the situation would also require higher-level technical education,” reflects Albrecht. “Both the Racine and Kenosha Campuses offered associate degrees in manufacturing and machine tool, as well as CNC programs. None was available in Walworth County.” Albrecht recalls Reader’s words: “We have to get this done, Bryan.”

Albrecht considers Mike Reader “a true champion,” who enlisted the help of fellow manufacturers, vendors, customers, legislators, educators, students, and organizations to “get things rolling.” A preliminary study conducted by GTC indicated Walworth County was one of two national hubs (the other being Kosciusko County, IN) for Swiss-type precision manufacturers (micromachining), and that the absence of technically skilled employees to run the specialized equipment, made it hard to grow the local economy.

Albrecht presented Gateway’s Board of Trustees with a plan: To expand the Walworth Campus to include a state-of-art manufacturing center, offering the traditional manufacturing programs already in place at the other two campuses, plus a unique Swiss screw (micromachining) advanced manufacturing program. The latter, would make Gateway Technical College the first institution in the Midwest to offer this specialized training, also contributing to better position Wisconsin in the overall global market.

The current plans for the new manufacturing center include remodeling of the the Elkhorn Campus South Building and an expansion which will bring the total area dedicated to the center to 4,000 sq. ft. The center (yet to be named) will house welding, fabrication, rapid prototype, computer aided design (CAD), engineering, and full-scale precision machining labs. The footprint construction will start in November with an estimated Spring of 2016 completion date.

GTC’s Manufacturing Center officially opened over the summer by offering a Youth CNC Boot Camp, a program designed for high school seniors to finish the school year with a high school degree and a CNC operator certificate.

The CNC adult programs will begin to be offered at the Elkhorn Campus in September.   “We have recently added two new instructors, as all CNC classes at all three campuses are fully enrolled,” adds Albrecht.

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Equipment has been steadily arriving to the new manufacturing center over the last couple of months, and Albrecht reiterates that the total endeavor would not have been possible without Mike Reader’s resolve, his ability to see the big picture, and his talent to simultaneously engage all the pieces that were needed to make the center a reality.

Thus far, four brand new Haas ST-10 lathes, one Tsugami S205 CNC Swiss machine, and an MTA barfeeder are already in place thanks to the tremendous help from Brad Morris of The Morris Group, and Jamie Schwartz of CNC Indexing & Feeding Technologies. Precision Plus not only assisted with the equipment installation, but also with a generous donation of $50,000, which facilitated the purchase of the equipment. Plans are to have at least eight Haas machines, 4 turning and 4 vertical machining centers, when the center is in full operation.

Industry support for GTC’s manufacturing center has been unprecedented, notably, a long-term agreement reached by GTC with Hanan Fishman of PartMaker who will provide computer aided manufacturing (CAM) software for students in the center. Also, a recent $2,500 tool donation by Grainger for the CNC Boot Camp, will contribute to the student experience.

On August 15, 2015, Mike Reader and Mark Beilman, Director of Education and Training at Precision Plus, toured the repurposed space housing the equipment. “We met with Dean of Students Michael O’Donnell and instructor JD Jones,” mentions Reader. “We had a great meeting and everyone is excited about the new equipment rolling in.”

The next few months promise to be exciting for the Elkhorn Campus of Gateway Technical College, and for the local industry, community, and economy. Precision Plus thanks Dr. Albrecht for his time to conduct this interview, and looks forward to continue to report on the progress of Gateway Technical College Elkhorn Campus’s new manufacturing center.

Mark Beilman Joins Precision Plus as Its Director of Education and Training

Michael Reader

On August 3, 2015, Precision Plus (PPI) of Elkhorn, Wisconsin welcomed Mark Beilman as its new Director of Education and Training, to carry on the position first held by Barry Butters.

Beilman’s first job after graduating from the University of Wisconsin at Platteville was with Miniature Precision Components of Walworth, WI, where he served as a research and development engineer for seven years. From 2005 until 2012, he worked at Mukwonago High School as a technical education teacher, and prior to joining Precision Plus he taught technical education at East Troy High School.

When I first started contemplating a career change out of teaching in public education, I wanted to find a job that still included some interaction with young people, but within manufacturing; something I was missing since my days working at MPC, an injection molding company based in Walworth, WI.

I knew I had found that when Barry approached me and discussed this position.  I had worked closely with Barry while I was a teacher at East Troy, placing Youth Apprentice Amanda Mudlaff at Precision Plus  Barry told me how his job was a rewarding mix of working with young people and getting the word out about manufacturing.  He was right. It has been great so far!

As Mike has said, I have big shoes to fill but believe I am up for the challenge.  This challenge has been made easier by all the wonderful people who work at Precision Plus, how they have made me feel welcome, and helped me when I have questions.  It sure has been a whirlwind first three weeks: from sifting through files, learning the Swiss machining process, to meeting interesting people such as Bob Klockars, President of Walworth State Bank, or visiting Gateway’s new manufacturing facility. 

So far my experiences have exceeded my expectations.  I am excited to get our new group of youth apprentices started in the fall and to keep spreading the word about the benefits of a manufacturing career.

-Mark

Mark Beilman and his wife of 14 years, are originally from Madison, but have lived in Walworth County since 1998 and consider it their home. The have two sons, Raymond (10 years old) and John (6 years old). Beilman coaches U8 soccer in Williams Bay.

The Beilmans recently bought a “new” boat (a 1978 Yar-Craft), and are excited to get out fishing and boating as much as they can as the summer winds down. They have a cabin up north, in Superior, WI, where they enjoy spending time in the summer months.

When time permits, Mark enjoys working with antique cars. He is the proud owner of a 1964 Ford 250 and a 1955 T-Bird.

Mark Beilman can be reached by phone or email.

Precision Plus Adds Mecco Laser Marking System to Its Suite of Secondary Operations

Michael Reader

There are many reasons why Precision Plus (PPI)’s customers are requesting that components as small as 1/8” in diameter be marked in one way or another: branding, material identification, serialization, and date coding, among others. In an era where the precision of a component could mean the difference between life and death, companies are taking component identification to the next level.

Paul McDonough, Manufacturing Engineer at Precision Plus, explains that investing into a laser marking system for relatively low volume custom jobs, addresses these types of customer customization requirements.

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PPI recently purchased and installed a MeccoMark® Laser System, a desktop solution with a 4.3” marking area, and a rotary circumference marking area of up to 4” in diameter. The system in place at PPI accepts parts up to 10.5” high. “Although any MS font can be programmed to print,” explains McDonough, “to keep things simple, we are using Tahoma, and offering standard heights ranging between .040” to .160”.”

In addition, the system has bar and QR coding capabilities, can mark most metals and some plastics, can mark logos and images, and provides many serialization options.

The MeccoMark® System has become a part of PPI’s suite of secondary operations, which depending on the part and the process required to complete it (i.e., aluminum anodization, electropolishing steel, etc.), may come before or after another secondary operation.

Loading components into the fixtures for marking, however, remains a manual operation. The process can take from 3 seconds to 3 minutes to complete, subject to the size of the component and the complexity of the mark.   “Because the parts going through the system are typically part of low volume custom orders, it does not justify any further automation,” adds McDonough.

Paul McDonough joined Precision Plus in May of 2015, after 17 years with Dentsply, a dental equipment and supplies manufacturing company, where he was dubbed “The Project Guy.” At PPI, he is looking to identify the increasingly specific needs of customers for precision components, and assess the viability to add in-house processes to reduce turnaround time and increase quality.

Precision Plus welcomes Paul McDonough to the team!

Paul McDonough can be reached by phone or email.

Precision Plus of Elkhorn, Wisconsin, Welcomes 2015 Summer Interns

Michael Reader

Precision Plus welcomes its 2015 interns, a group of outstanding young inviduals. During their internship, they rotate responsibilities through different departments and platforms, as well as learn about the operation from different angles, to maximize their exposure to the business.

The internship concludes in the fall, when the students begin a new academic year. Pursuing an array of degrees, the interns share one common core goal: To learn, hands-on, how and why things work, while contributing to the company with a thirst for knowledge, dedication, and tenacity.  Scroll to see them in action and read their bios.

From left to right: Kyle Gorst, Amanda Mudlaff, Jake Ruemmele, Matt Dowel, Sergey Klyukvin, Caitlyn Sanders, Troy Steinfest, Brad Killen, Jessica Flock, Carson Filko, Brad Pearson, Britt Campbell, Bob Dall, Alden Filko, Ryan Reader . Not pictured: Tristan Steiner.

PRECISION PLUS 2015 SUMMER INTERNS IN ACTION

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PRECISION PLUS 2015 SUMMER INTERN BIOS

Britt Campbell is a graduate of Badger High School and is currently enrolled at Milwaukee School of Engineering as a sophomore, pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering. Britt is an avid car racer and belongs to the Society of Automotive Engineers, Formula Hybrid. She has been racing for a number of years. Britt feels her internship has given her a more realistic perspective on actual career goals and has given her the opportunity to explore different options to seek after graduating from college. Her favorite platform at Precision Plus is the Quality Lab.

Bob Dall will begin his third year at University of Wisconsin, Madison this fall, pursuing a degree in industrial engineering. He is a graduate of Elkhorn Area High School, where he was also involved in wrestling, golf and cross-country. In college, he belongs to the Institute for Industrial Engineers, and he is a member of the EUClue Club. He continues to play golf recreationally and enjoys boating as well. Bob felt that working in a manufacturing plant would help him gain real life experience he could apply in his industrial engineering studies and career. During his internship, he particularly enjoys working with the Tornos CAM machines.

Matt Dowell will be a freshman at University of Wisconsin, Platteville, seeking a degree in mechanical engineering. He is a graduate of Wilmot Union High School, where he was very involved with the Key Club and the SkillsUSA Program. He has always been interested in learning how things are made. Understandably, his favorite pastime is woodworking. That interest was what drove him to apply for the internship with Precision Plus, where the Tsugami platform is his favorite. Matt feels the internship is giving him a better understanding of how everything works together.

Alden Filko will begin his senior year at Richmond-Burton Community High School in the fall. Although he still has some time to make a decision about his college studies, he is leaning towards Milwaukee School of Engineering to pursue a degree in biomolecular engineering. Currently, he is in the school’s math team and the marching band. His favorite platform at Precision Plus is the Miyano, and what he enjoys most is understanding the process, which confirms that engineering is what he wants to do. In his time off, Alden enjoys hunting, fishing and riding ATVs.

Carson Filko will begin his second year at Milwaukee School of Engineering in the fall, where he is pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering. He is a graduate of Richmond-Burton Community High School, and was a member of the math team and marching band. Carson has always enjoyed “fixing things” and home projects. Working at Precision Plus has given him the opportunity to observe a smaller company in action, as well as be able to assess the possible careers available within manufacturing requiring his projected degree. In addition, Carson believes the company has given him a great foundation for his future career. The Miyano platform is his favorite.

Jessica Flock will be entering Milwaukee School of Engineering in the fall as a freshman, pursuing a degree in computer engineering. She is a graduate of Elkhorn Area High School, where her extracurricular activities included band, musicals, robotics, E-TEC, NHS, and pep band. Jessica enjoys every aspect of music and IT. She thanks Precision Plus for giving her  the opportunity that allows her to be exposed to a larger IT network and its operation. She enjoys learning how the individual machines interact, how they  are managed, and what happens when there are problems and solutions are needed to keep up with production. Jessica feels the internship will give her an advantage not only in college, but also in her future career.

Kyle Gorst will begin his first year at Gateway Technical College this fall, looking to become certified as a CNC production technician. He is a graduate of Elkhorn Area High School where he was a member of both the swim and golf teams. Kyle has always been fascinated by manufacturing, and knew that he wanted to pursue a high-tech career in the industry, so he sought both an apprenticeship and an internship with Precision Plus, where he likes working on the Miyano platform. In his spare time, Kyle enjoys hunting, fishing, football, and college basketball.

Brad Killen will be a junior at University of Wisconsin, Madison in the fall, where he is seeking a degree in computer engineering. He graduated from Elkhorn Area High School where he was also a member of the basketball and golf teams. Working at Precision Plus has given him a broad exposure to the engineering field and has reaffirmed his interest in engineering. Brad enjoys giving back to the community by working with the City of Madison Youth Basketball Camps.

Sergey Klyukvin is currently enrolled at University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he will begin his sophomore year in civil engineering studies in the fall. Sergey is a graduate of Williams Bay High School, where he was involved in intramural basketball. In addition to basketball, he enjoys water sports and spending time at the lake. His goal at Precision Plus is to get shop experience, and he thoroughly enjoys working in the Quality Assurance Department.

Amanda Mudlaff will be a freshman at Milwaukee School of Engineering in the fall, pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering. She is a graduate of East Troy High School, where she kept a very busy schedule tending to her extracurricular activities–cheer-leading, dance, track and field, FFA and NHS–while being an apprentice at Precision Plus and keeping up with her regular studies. Amanda wanted to work with Precision Plus because of her interest in the engineering field and the jumpstart it would give her in her career. Her favorite activity is to set-up a Tsugami 5-axis machine. In her leisure time, Amanda enjoys boating, tubing, wake boarding, wake surfing and swimming.

Brad Pearson is a second year student at Blackhawk Technical College, pursuing a degree as a CNC manufacturing/machining technician. He is a graduate of Elkhorn Area High School, where he also played sports. Brad always had an affinity to engineering and “making things.” His exposure to an internship at Precision Plus helped him to clarify his career intentions. His favorite platforms at Precision Plus are the Miyano and the Tsugami. In his spare time, Brad enjoys hunting, fishing, and sports, especially baseball.

Jake Ruemmele will begin his senior year at University of Wisconsin, Platteville in the fall, where he is pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering. He is a graduate of Elkhorn Area High School, where he was involved with the swim club. He is also an active member of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. Last year, during his internship, Jake enjoyed working on the Miyano platform, but his year, he appreciates the opportunity given to him to learn the quoting process. He feels that working at Precision Plus has allowed him to experience “real world” applications of mechanical engineering in a business/industry-oriented environment, something he thoroughly values. Also, it has made him more aware of the crucial role of mechanical engineers in the manufacturing industry. In his free time, Jake enjoys swimming, disc golf, and video games.

Ryan Reader will be a freshman at McHenry County Community College in the fall, from where he is seeking to receive an associate in arts degree. He is a graduate of Richmond-Burton Community High School. At Precision Plus, Ryan finds working on the Miyano platform most interesting, and looks forward to applying principles and processes to his future endeavors. In his spare time, Ryan enjoys video gaming.

Tristan Steiner will be attending University of Wisconsin, Madison, as a freshman in the fall. He is seeking a degree in electrical engineering. Tristan is a graduate of Badger High School, where he was involved with intramural sports and several student organizations. Tristan applied for an internship at Precision Plus because he wanted to gain work experience and learn more about the manufacturing process. Working at the company has helped him to decide on which discipline of engineering he wants to pursue in college.  At Precision Plus, he most enjoys working in the Quality Assurance Department. During his time off he loves playing sports.

Troy Steinfest will attend University of Wisconsin, Platteville as a freshman in the fall, where he will be pursuing a degree in electrical engineering. He is a graduate of Elkhorn Area High School, where his extracurricular activities included involvement with student organizations and golf. Golf continues to be one of his favorite pastimes, as well as fishing, hiking and hunting. Working at Precision Plus has given him an opportunity to have experience in the manufacturing industry–something he feels will help him with his career. At the company, he particularly enjoyed all aspects of material handling.

 

Firm Makes Precision Parts, Builds Talent – Precision Plus in the News

Michael Reader

This is a reprint of an article authored by Chris Schultz, which first appeared in the Lake Geneva News on July 21, 2015

Firm makes precision parts, builds talent

POINTING THE WAY, Barry Butters, education coordinator at Precision Plus, Elkhorn, leads Reggie Newson, right, secretary for the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, on a tour of the Precision Plus work floor during Newson’s visit to the plant on July 15.

July 21, 2015 | 10:23 AM

ELKHORN — Reggie Newson, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development secretary, said he was impressed with Precision Plus, 840 Koopman Lane.

Newson paid a visit to the company on July 15. It was his first time at Precision Plus

The relatively small, privately-owned firm is a modern facility with state-of-the-art machinery that specializes in precision-turned metal components for a variety of uses, from cuff links to military ordnance.

But more importantly, the company is manufacturing talent, Newson said.

Three years ago, Mike Reader, president and CEO of Precision Plus started a training program that brought in high school and college students from Wisconsin and Illinois, teaching them the basics of precision engineering and manufacturing, and giving them real-life experience on the work floor.

Reader also hired Barry Butters, a former teacher and school administrator in Elkhorn and Williams Bay, as the company’s education services coordinator.

Precision Plus has done well, fitting into its niche of shaping metal pieces to precise tolerances.

The company recently more than doubled its floorspace, going from about 45,000-square-feet to more than 100,000-square-feet.

It is also installing 100 kilowatt solar panels on the roof.

“It’s the largest industrial solar array in Walworth County,” Reader said. The array will feed sun-created electrical power into the building’s main panel and excess will go out on the grid. Reader said he’s working with the local utility so his company can earn credits for the electricity it creates.

But the company’s self-proclaimed mission of reaching out to students interested in manufacturing and enrolling them in the company’s apprentice training program has attracted interest from educators and business owners across the state.

In 2014, the company added a new education center with eight precision computer learning stations where, without wasting a single piece of metal, students can see how a part is cut and shaved and shaped by one of the company’s computer numeric control (CNC) lathes.

Autodesk Inc., San Rafael, California, makes the software for the virtual machining simulation.

The company donated $100,000 in computer software to Precision Plus for the education center.

Butters has said that the CNC machines, which operate in three dimensions, are smart. The human operators have to be smarter.

For its efforts, Precision Plus also won the 2014 State Superintendent Business Friends of Education Award.

Newson said he wished he had “50 or so” other manufacturing employers with him on the tour. “They are having a challenging time finding talented individuals to fill their positions,” he said.

Precision Plus has developed a strong relationship with Elkhorn Area High School, and JoAnne Pella, the school’s career and technical education coordinator.

KEEPING HER EYES on the job, Amanda Mudlaff, an apprentice at Precision Plus, is an East Troy High School graduate and student at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. Photo by Chris Schultz/Regional News.

The company and school coordinate an annual Manufacturing Careers Panel at Elkhorn High School, where leading manufacturers are invited in to talk with students interested in the business of making things.

Reader said Precision Plus is also collaborating with Scott Forge in Illinois in the apprentice training program.

Reader said he is now trying to create an intern exchange program with Swiss precision manufacturers.

Precision Plus has 16 high school and college students in the apprentice program now.

Newson said he was impressed with the knowledge and self-confidence of the students who are participating in Precision Plus’ program

“This is the model,” Newson said during a sit down talk with students in the Precision Plus apprenticeship program.

About three years ago, manufacturers around the state were complaining that schools were not producing enough talent to fit their needs, said Reader. And he decided about that time “it’s time to stop whining about it, and get involved.”

Reader said he’s still reaching out to educators to get them involved in getting information to students about the futures in manufacturing.

And, he said, he wants to convince other companies that training future engineers is in their own best interests, even if the engineers they train don’t wind up working for them.

He described the progress as “slow but sure.”

“This is a long-term project,” Reader said. “This is years in the making.”

The best salespersons may be the apprentices themselves.

Newson said he became interested in Precision Plus after meeting student Kyle Gorst at a Project Lead the Way conference at Elkhorn High School last year, where Gorst gave a speech and presentation about his apprenticeship at Precision Plus

Newson said he was so impressed with Gorst’s presentation about the Precision Plus program that he decided to visit. Among the students he met at Precision Plus were Amanda Mudlaff, an East Troy High School graduate, now attending Milwaukee School of Engineering, while gaining practical experience working on projects at Precision Plus

She was the recipient of a $5,000 scholarship to MSOE.

Brittany Campbell, a Badger High School graduate who races in the Midwest small car racing circuit has an interest in automotive design.

She’s been in the program for two years and is now in her sophomore year at MSOE.

Ryan Reader, Mike’s son, is also in the program.

Brad Pearson, now at Blackhawk Technical College, said his parents at first weren’t happy with his decision to go into manufacturing.

Many still think manufacturing in terms of the “3Ds,” Pierson said. That is, dumb, dirty and dangerous work.

He said his parents’ concerns weren’t allayed until Reader and Butters took them on a guided tour of the well-lit, atmosphere-controlled Precision Parts plant.

“We had to convince mom and dad, no doubt,” Butters said.

Newson said he was impressed with the level of proficiency the students were demonstrating on the production floor.

“You are very talented and you’re doing it. You’re running the machines.” Newson told the students.

Newson said that the Wall Street Journal did a study and found that students with work and intern experience, even those with mediocre grades, were far more likely to be hired by manufacturing companies than students without experience, even those with the high grades.

Newson said there are hundreds of companies now with programs similar to Precision Plus, “but we want thousands.”

He said there are now 3,000 students who are part of the state’s youth Apprenticeship program, an increase from 2,500 just a few years ago. Many of the Youth Apprentice programs are coordinated through the state’s Cooperative Education Service Agency (CESA) districts.

“Youth Apprenticeship is one of our big programs we want to promote,” Newson said.

Before leaving, Newson asked what he could do. Reader said it was important that the state get the word out about the apprenticeship programs to other manufacturers in the state.

“They haven’t seen it, they haven’t heard about it and they can’t figure it out for themselves.” Reader said.

“I want to see this everywhere,” Reader added. “Help us get that message out.”

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