Precision Plus European Tour 2019

Created over 85 years ago, the Precision Machines Products Association (PMPA) represents the interests of the precision machined products industry and has played a key role in the journey. Our trade association is comprised of industry leaders who understand that having an active and strong manufacturing history is vital to the overall strength and stability of our economy. I was also recently honored to be formally elected PMPA’s president. With approximately 430 members across the United State and Canada, the PMPA attributes the success of the association to its members and their ongoing involvement at all levels. Furthermore, we continue to work closely with our European counterparts in Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, France, and Switzerland. 

“When in Switzerland.” Fabian Stampfli and Mike P. Reader play the alphorn – a tool once used by shepherds, as well as a musical instrument.

I have been fortunate over the years to meet, and sometimes develop friendships with, many of the European members through our PMPA membership. Some of you may remember Fabian Stampfli from Aeschlimann AG, Décolletages, who lived and worked with us for three months back in the spring of 2016. Relationships like this made it possible for me to take four of our team members last June, through three of the top Swiss machining shops in the Swiss-German side of Switzerland, as well as tour the Tornos factory in Moutier. It was an amazing experience, to say the least.

We landed in Zurich on Sunday, June 2nd, and spent the afternoon getting acclimated to the time change along the river in Solothurn, with our hosts Michael and Nicole Ingold of the company Aeschlimann. The next day, we visited Urs Steinemann of the company Hani, who led us on a tour of their factory where they are doing remarkable things. We finished up at Hani and went to meet Michael and Fabian for lunch, and spent the remainder of the day at Aeschlimann, witnessing an even more impressive display of technology and craftsmanship. We enjoyed our time at the Ingold home, with the remarkable views across the valley of the Alps, only to be topped by the hospitality of Nicole and Michael. Our visit with the Ingolds and their children, as well as Fabian and his fiancé Stefanie, was quite memorable.

We enjoyed seeing the vintage Tornos equipment during our visit.

While in Switzerland, we had the opportunity to visit, by some accounts, the birthplace of Swiss-type machining, the town of Moutier. Upon arriving at the machine tool builder Tornos, we were treated to a presentation and extensive tour of their operation, as well as an amazing lunch. The Tornos team rolled out the red carpet for us, and we were not disappointed. We also toured the Tornos museum, followed by a quick visit of the capital of Switzerland, Bern. Here again, Michael Ingold was both our driver and guide; I cannot properly express my gratitude to Michael for all he did for us during our stay.

I must also thank Manfred Laubscher and the company that bears his name. Laubscher AG is the largest and oldest of the Swiss companies we visited. Founded in 1846, they can trace their contributions to the Swiss-style machining all the way back to the 1850s, and they have an array of vintage “Laubscher” Swiss-Type machines in their own museum to prove it. Here is a quick video I discovered that will do a much better job of showing you the very impressive things they are doing at Laubscher:

We also spent more than three hours crammed into our Renault Scenic, driving north to Stuttgart, Germany, where we would begin our tour of the cutting tool manufacturer, Horn. This is the reason we embarked on the European tour to begin with. Horn hosts customers from around the country each year for “Horn Technology Days”, but this year was even more special. They were celebrating 50 years of business, and let me tell you, they know how to throw a party. With approximately 4,700 guests invited from around the globe, it was an impressive production, with a very large pop-up building – modestly called a tent – to hold the evening celebrations. While the “tent” was enormous, it could only hold around 2,500 people, forcing our hosts to split the event over two nights. I cannot tell you how impressed I was with the plant tours and the hospitality the Horn team extended to us all. The sheer amount of state-of-the-art equipment was amazing. The thought and planning that went into the infrastructure design was incredible; the cleanliness and organization (using 5S Principles) was the best I have ever seen in all my travels. However, the most impressive take away was the people, as everyone we spoke with was engaged and excited to be a part of a great organization. After two days, it was clear to me why Horn is considered one of world’s best cutting tool manufacturers. Congratulations to Mr. Lothar Horn and his team on 50 years of innovation and success!

Thank you to the Precision Plus team members who joined me on the trip – Steve Dues, Shannon Kelly, Sam Kirkland, and Mike P. Reader. I know I speak for the entire group when I say we are extremely grateful for everything we saw and took part in during our trip to Europe. The machining shops we toured are doing amazing work, and the relationships and connections we made are truly priceless. In an industry such as ours, being connected with others around the globe is important. Exchanging ideas and learning about each other’s similarities and differences helps us understand more about our industry and ourselves.

If you are an industry leader and interested in learning more about the PMPA and what a membership can do for your company, visit We all benefit and achieve higher goals when we connect and work together.



Mike Reader, President

Precision Plus


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