Author Archives: Noah Graff

Swarfcast Ep. 18 – Jerry Levine on Why Global Warming is Not a Problem

By Noah and Lloyd Graff

Scroll down to listen to the podcast with Jerry Levine.

In today’s podcast we interviewed Jerry Levine. A chemical engineer, Jerry Levine’s working career stretched from polyester to politics. He led the team at Amoco Chemicals that conquered the production problems in making polyester in the 1960s.

Jerry then learned what it was like to live under Communism when he helped set up a polyester plant in East Germany well before the Berlin Wall came down.

He later returned to Amoco’s corporate office in Chicago, finding his niche as a lobbyist for the company and “Big Oil.”

Jerry holds the view that Global Warming fears have been fueled by faulty and sometimes deliberately contrived data to protect scientific jobs and reputations, and to build political careers. He feels that ardent advocates of Global Warming theories often have “no growth” philosophies which mask hidden Socialist agendas.

Question: Do you believe global warming is mostly caused by human activity?

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Swarfcast Ep. 17 – Making it in America with Armand Barnils

By Noah and Lloyd Graff

Scroll down to listen to the podcast with Armand Barnils.

In today’s podcast we interviewed Armand Barnils, plant manager of the U.S. division of Ventura Precision Components, a multinational precision machining company headquartered in Barcelona, Spain.

Armand grew up on the outskirts of Barcelona and studied Industrial Engineering in Spain. Through a foreign exchange program he came to the United States and earned a Masters Degree in Industrial Technology and Operations at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

At age 23 he moved to Pasadena, Texas, just outside of Houston, to work at Ventura Precision Components. Two years later his boss left, and at just 25 years old he became the shop’s plant manager.

In the interview Armand recounted his life’s journey from Barcelona to Chicago to Pasadena, Texas, and opined on the career opportunities he believes are unique to the United States.

Question: Do you believe in the American Dream?

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Swarfcast Ep. 16 – Bill Cox on the Evolution of a Machining Business

By Noah and Lloyd Graff

Scroll down to listen to the podcast with Bill Cox.

In today’s podcast we interviewed Bill Cox, owner of Cox Manufacturing in San Antonio, Texas, a job shop that makes parts for a variety of industries—oil and energy, medical, and defense to name a few.

Bill’s father started the company in 1956 but died when Bill was age 12. The evening of his father’s funeral a customer had the audacity to ask Bill’s mother if he could buy the company. She asked Bill that night if he was interested in going into the family business and Bill said he was. From that day forward Bill’s mom, a sharp business woman in her own right, taught him the management side of running the company, while the guys in the shop developed his technical skills. By his 20s Bill was taking the helm at Cox Manufacturing.

We at Graff-Pinkert have had the pleasure of dealing with Bill for decades, on both the buying and selling side of the equipment trade. He continues to impress us with his business savvy and grasp of the trends in the machining business.

Question: Are current wage levels too low to attract good enough good people for machine shops?

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Swarfcast Ep. 15 – George Breiwa on Machining Vaporizers

By Noah Graff

Scroll down to listen to the podcast with George Breiwa.

About two months ago I got a call from a company asking for a price on a Traub TNL18 on our Graff-Pinkert Website. For those unfamiliar, Traub makes arguably the heaviest, most expensive and advanced CNC Swiss machines on the market—the “the Hummer of CNC Swiss” one could say. I asked the caller what his application was, thinking it was a medical part to justify such an expensive machine, but the caller told me it was for making a unique vaporizer that had no moving parts and no battery.

George Breiwa started his company DynaVap to produce a mechanism called a VapCap that gives smokers of tobacco and other substances (one legalized this week in Canada) an alternative to smoking. People have built vaporizers for a long time, but what makes DynaVap’s VapCap unique is that while other Vaporizers require a power source usually from batteries or a wall socket the VapCap operates using heat from an external source such as a lighter or candle.

In the interview Breiwa discusses DynaVap’s evolution from making its first pieces on South Bend Lathes to ordering its first new Traubs. He explains his philosophy to make simple yet elegant parts using complex CNC equipment which he hopes will make an impact.

You can learn more about DynaVap at www.dynavap.com.

Question: Can a solo inventor with a South Bend Lathe still change the world?

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Swarfcast Ep. 14 – Scott Livingston on Combining Cycling and Citizens in His Machining Business

By Noah and Lloyd Graff

Scroll down to listen to the podcast with Scott Livingston.

Scott Livingston’s Grandfather Horst, after whom Horst Engineering Company in Connecticut was named, often talked about bicycles with Scott during his childhood.  Cycling was part of Horst’s life in Germany before he fled from the Nazis in 1938 and came to America.

Horst started his machining company in 1946, and Scott and his family run it today.  While the core business is now aerospace products made on Swiss screw machines and thread-rolled parts, a growing piece of the business is a niche product for bikers, toe spikes.

Scott and the Horst company have meshed a passion for cycling, especially the growing sport of cyclo-cross, which features many laps of short-course racing on pavement, wooded trails, grass and steep hills.  Cyclo-cross requires the rider to dismount and carry their cycle.  Riders usually end up muddy but smiling, riding sturdy bikes with fattish tires.  Good toe spikes are a must, and Horst’s are popular all over the world.

Scott and his family are regulars on the race circuit, and Horst sponsors a team.  Scott’s wife, who is also an ultramarathon runner, and his children join in the competitions.

The vision of Scott’s grandfather to develop a cycling product for his machining firm has been realized by Scott, and cycling has led to many networking opportunities for the company to find kindred spirits for Horst Manufacturing’s growing business.

Question: Have you been able to combine athletic interests and work?

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Swarfcast Ep. 12 – Logan McGhan on Reinventing a Career in the Machining World

By Noah and Lloyd Graff

Scroll down to listen to the podcast with Logan McGhan.

In today’s podcast we interviewed Logan McGhan, a used machine tool dealer at the firm KD Capital.

Logan’s journey to selling used equipment spanned numerous stages. At around age 7, his father, who also worked in machining, brought home a complex part from a trade show that had been made on a CNC, and Logan knew that the machining industry was his calling. At 17 he built an entire rifle (aside from the scope) using manual equipment.

In his 20s he and his brother started a machining business making after-market accessories for UTVs and ATVs. After the economic disaster hit in 2008 Logan got out of running his own shop and excelled as a CNC programer in the aerospace and medical fields. During this time Logan sometimes bought and sold used machine tools on the side to get a little supplemental income, but he hadn’t considered it as a primary career.

Then a few years ago, Logan was in a car accident and suffered a concussion leaving his brain in a condition that made CNC programming difficult to do as a full-time job (though he still enjoys doing it). Today he has once again reinvented himself and become a machine tool dealer. At Graff-Pinkert, we have had fun working with Logan on several deals in the last year. He’s an excellent treasure hunter, which I believe has a lot to do with the variety of experiences that have led him to this point in time.

Question: If you had the opportunity to have any career, what would you do?

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Swarfcast Ep. 11 – Mike Fair of Rethink Robotics on Friendly Cobots

By Noah Graff

Scroll down to listen to the podcast with Mike Fair.

At the 2018 International Machine Tool Show I recorded a podcast with Mike Fair, Product Manager of Rethink Robotics, a robotics company specializing in collaborative robots for use on the factory floor.

What sets Rethink Robots apart from several of the other collaborative robot companies I saw at IMTS is that their robot models have people’s names and they feature a display tablet placed in a position to resemble a head. The robot featured at the Rethink Robotics booth was called Sawyer. Rethink’s philosophy is to give collaborative robots, also known as cobots, a personality in order to make them more approachable to the people who work side by side with them. Fair said that industrial robots have always had the connotation of being dangerous. Making the robots more lifelike is the company’s attempt to create a more harmonious relationship between the robot and its coworker.

In the interview Fair described Sawyer’s roles on the shop floor, performing the tasks shop workers deem mundane, dirty, unpleasant and dangerous. He said that Sawyer is well suited for CNC machine tending, aiding in loading and unloading parts particularly during jobs with long cycle times. He said Sawyer is also useful for packaging and pick and place processes such as part inspection.

Question: Do robots scare you?

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Swarfcast Ep. 10 – John Griner, Twists and Turns of a Hydromat Shop

By Noah and Lloyd Graff

Scroll down to listen to the podcast with John Griner.

In today’s Podcast we interviewed John Griner, founder of Griner Engineering in Bloomington, Indiana.

John has been cranking out turned parts for the last 40 years, and since the ‘90s his bread and butter has been the legacy Hydromat business.

He’s a renaissance man. He studies philosophy, flies planes and has played the guitar for 50 years. He has had 34 different startup businesses as diverse as centerless bar stock grinding, cold forming, video production, and an exotic animal business called “wild things.” But in the end, the one that always stuck was the multi-spindle/Hydromat business.

John Griner in New Orleans

We talked to John about how his machining business has evolved over the years. He started running single spindle screw machines, graduated to cam multi-spindles, then added Hydromats and finally introduced modern CNC turning equipment into the mix.

John talked with us about how he copes when deals go bad, how he finds good employees and why he prefers not to drug test in his shop.

Question: Is a strict drug testing policy a necessity for a successful machine shop?

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Swarfcast Ep. 8 – Electric Cars and 3-D Printing with Jeff Reinke

By Noah and Lloyd Graff

Scroll down to listen to the podcast with Jeff Reinke.

In today’s podcast we interviewed Jeff Reinke, Editorial Director of Industrial Equipment News (IEN). He gave his take on several of the fastest emerging trends in the machining business, including electric cars and 3-D printing.

Reinke said that right now Elon Musk is suffering the consequences of overpromising and underdelivering on his products. He said that Musk is a unique car company CEO because when certain projects suffer setbacks he stubbornly charges forward instead of shelving them as other car companies would.

This boldness enables Tesla to develop innovative technology that sets the company apart from the established but conservative automotive makers.

Reinke said that when the big car companies start producing all-electric vehicles on a large scale Tesla will have to develop a niche to survive the market. Not having a niche could lead to being acquired by an established car company seeking to obtain Tesla’s technology.

Thirty four non-spring parts made with a laser-sintering machine out of Inconel 625 (weaponsman.com).

The big question is whether the majority of consumers will follow the electric technology or if they will stubbornly hold onto their current gas vehicles.

Reinke also said the advancement in 3-D printing is one of the current trends in machining he is most excited about. He said it is fueling the demand for customization and he is impressed by the cost-effective materials available for the process such as carbon fiber and metal. However, Reinke believes that for the near future large volumes will still be made with conventional metal cutting equipment rather than using additive manufacturing.

Question: Does producing guns with 3-D printers scare you?

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Swarfcast Ep. 7 – Dr. Martin Levine D.O. Talks Health Care in America

By Lloyd and Noah Graff

Scroll down to listen to the podcast with Dr. Martin Levine.

In today’s podcast we interview Dr. Martin Levine D.O. Martin is a third generation Osteopathic physician who worked in a family practice for 30 years, treated Olympic athletes and gave Mike Tyson a pre-fight physical—twice. He also happens to be my first cousin once removed (that means he’s my mom’s first cousin).

Osteopathic Medicine uses a hands-on, holistic approach to diagnose and treat patients. The philosophy is to treat the body as a whole rather than just focusing on isolated bodily issues.

In the podcast Martin explained how our country’s current medical system rewards specialists rather than primary care doctors and why that’s a recipe for less healthy Americans and much higher medical expenses. He discussed the origin of the opioid epidemic in the United States and why it is so difficult to stop in our current medical system plagued by greedy pharmaceutical companies, unnecessary medical procedures and unaffordable mental health treatment.

Dr. Martin Levine D.O. helping at the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.

Martin told us about fearing Mike Tyson might throw him out of a window while he was at his apartment drawing his blood before a fight in Atlantic City.

He also talked about his experience working as a physician at the 2013 Boston Marathon when the bombs went off.

Listen to the podcast below to find out more!

Question: Is the emergency room your primary care?

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