Category Archives: Podcast

Swarfcast Ep. 46 – Zak Pashak on Building Bikes in Detroit

By Lloyd and Noah Graff

Our guest on today’s podcast is Zak Pashak, founder of Detroit Bikes, the largest bike frame manufacturer in the United States. All bikes that the company sells are assembled in Detroit, and its high-end models have frames constructed of high quality American Chromoly steel. Zak lamented to us that he couldn’t find many companies in the U.S. to supply parts for wheels and other bike components. We told him we would take on the mission personally to find him some.

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Zak hales from Calgary, Canada, where he had success in the bar business and organizing one of Canada’s largest music festivals. He eventually developed an interest in politics and urban planning, which would inspire his next venture. In 2011, he sold all of his assets in Canada and moved to Detroit where he started Detroit Bikes in the building of an old sign company.

Zak said he chose Detroit because he saw the city as a place with rich history. He remarked that it was where cars were first mass produced, where great genres of music were invented, and a place with talent in the manufacturing field. He also said he wanted to go to a challenging place where he could be part of positive change.

Zak Pashak of Detroit Bikes

We could feel a real sense of purpose when Zak talked about his company. He takes pride in assembling bicycles in the U.S., a country where most of them are imported. He appreciates boosting the economy of a revitalizing city. But Zak said his primary mission is changing urban landscapes. He really wants to contribute to changing the paradigm of how people get around in cities, making them less congested and more environmentally friendly. He said this ultimately will be decided by governments who invest in new types of transportation infrastructure—including bike lanes.

Question: Does it make you want to buy a product more if it is made in the U.S.?

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Swarfcast Ep. 45 – Patrice Zamor on Manufacturing in Israel

By Lloyd and Noah Graff

For most people manufacturing and Israel are two topics that are not normally spoken about together. Patrice Zamor, the guest on today’s podcast, lives in both of these worlds.

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Patrice emigrated to Israel from France in the 1970s and has spent much of his career working for Ditron Precision, a multi-national automotive component supplier headquartered there.

Takeaways from the interview:

  • Patrice discussed Israel’s strength in high-tech fields as well as its significance in producing machined components for international markets.
  • He gave his outlook on the current world automotive industry.
  • He talked about Israeli culture and what inspired him to emigrate from France.

Question: Is Israel a place you want to visit? Why?

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Swarfcast Ep. 44 – Bruno Schmitter on Hydromat vs. Swiss Machining

By Lloyd and Noah Graff

Today’s podcast is part two of an interview we did with Bruno Schmitter, CEO and COO of Hydromat USA.

When Bruno came to America in 1979, his competition was National Acme and New Britain Multi-Spindles. Today he says his competition is mainly CNC Swiss and 5-axis Turning Centers. Bruno argues that having one machine that can do many operations at a time is a better option than having multiple machines which require more space, more people and more tooling.

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In the interview we also discussed Hydromat’s diversification into selling bar loaders and the company’s newest offering, the Eclipse 12-100, which offers machining up to 100mm.

Question: Would you rather have a Hydromat or six CNC Swiss machines?

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Swarfcast Ep. 43 – Bruno Schmitter on Bringing Hydromat to America

By Lloyd and Noah Graff

Today’s podcast is part one of a two part interview we did with Bruno Schmitter, CEO and COO of Hydromat USA.

In 1979 at the age of 25, Bruno came to St. Louis to sell and popularize the previously unknown transfer machine in North America. Bruno told us that at a young age growing up in Switzerland his father began encouraging him to go into the machine tool business. He also discussed his first years in the United States when he traveled the country convincing multi-spindle screw machine shops to use Hydromats.

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Question: Did your father encourage you to go into the machining business?

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Swarfcast Ep. 42 – John Habe IV on Valuing a Machining Business

By Lloyd and Noah Graff

Today’s podcast is part 2 of an interview we did with John Habe IV, President of Metal Seal Precision, a machining company based in Mentor, Ohio.

Listen to the podcast on the player below.

Over the last several years John has grown Metal Seal Precision both organically and through major acquisitions. According to John, growing through acquisitions can be financially rewarding but does not come easily. John discussed the difficulty in buying companies, which often have emotionally attached owners. He also talked about how he calculates the buy price of a company. He looks at cashflow, often called EBITDA in the acquisitions business, as well as criteria such as product sector, customer diversity, and management style of the current ownership.

Question: Is this a good time to go into the machining business? If so, what sector?

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Swarfcast Ep. 41 – John Habe IV on Growing a Machining Business through Acquisitions

By Lloyd and Noah Graff

Today’s podcast is part 1 of a two part interview we did with John Habe IV of Metal Seal Corporation, a machining company based in Mentor, Ohio.

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John and his two brothers own Metal Seal and several other machining companies, along with some granite countertop firms. He told us that since they purchased their father’s machining business in 1999 they have built their enterprise into one doing over $100 million in sales per year.

In the interview John discussed how Metal Seal dealt with a catastrophic fire in 2014, as well as his approach to delegation of power in a family business.

Question: Do you have a fire story?

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Best of Swarfcast: The Self-Taught Machinist, With John Saunders of NYC CNC

By Noah Graff

In Throwback Thursday fashion, Lloyd and Noah are out of town this week, so we’re sharing one of our favorite podcasts from the past. Be sure to listen in and weigh in on the new question below.

In December, we interviewed John Saunders, founder of Saunders Machine Works and the creator of the NYC CNC YouTube channel. John is an innovative entrepreneur who lives and breathes CNC machining. When he was 24 he had an idea to sell an automatically resetting steel target for practicing firearms, but he had no engineering background, no CAD experience and no machining experience. After working on a prototype with a contracted engineer he decided that before he would pursue production of his product he wanted to fully understand the production process.

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He bought a Taig CNC milling machine and put it in his one-bedroom New York City apartment. He quickly realized he was passionate about CNC machining and taught himself to use his machine on nights and weekends for two years. Using resources on the Web, instructional DVDs and New York’s MakerSpace NYC community he eventually gained the skills to machine a prototype of his automatically resetting target by himself. Since his first time experimenting with his Taig until today he has religiously documented his machining projects on YouTube and now NYC CNC has acquired over 273,000 subscribers.

Today Saunders with a staff of six employees, runs a machine shop in his hometown of Zanesville, OH. His company runs an intensive training course on machining and welding, and it uploads at least one YouTube video a week about machining. He also cohosts a weekly podcast where he discusses his challenges running a small machining business.

Question: Is the machining business too capital intensive for most entrepreneurs?

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Swarfcast Ep. 40 – A New Person Every Day, With Noah Graff

By Noah Graff

In today’s podcast I was interviewed about a book I am writing which documents a year in which I have met at least one new person every day. I started 364 days ago when I met a guy named Tommy, working the bar at a restaurant in Chicago called the Blue Door Farm Stand.

Listen to the Podcast on the player below.

Over this year I estimate I have met 450 to 500 strangers. I have met people on the street, a ton of Uber drivers, and folks from all over the world. I have even been forced to call Comcast late at night, desperate to meet just one new person that day.

The quest to meet a new person every day has forced me out of my comfort zone, and it has made each day more meaningful than it would have been otherwise. How often does time go by and you wonder to yourself, what did I do this week? Maybe you can’t even remember what you did yesterday? But after meeting a person and writing about it, and often taking a selfie photo together, I usually feel that something meaningful happened. I learned something new. I had a new experience.

Right now I call the book “The Meeting People Project” as I haven’t thought of anything more clever.

Question: Who is the most interesting new person you have met this week?

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Swarfcast Ep. 39 – Jay Sauder on CNC Machining Parts for the Amish

By Noah Graff

On today’s podcast we interviewed Jay Sauder, owner of Sauder Machine in Plymouth, Ohio.

One of Sauder’s specialties is making hydraulic wheel cylinders for Amish horse-drawn buggies using sophisticated CNC equipment. Sauder and his 10 employees are all members of the Mennonite church. Earlier in his life, Jay himself drove a horse and buggy, but today he chooses to drive a pickup truck. However, all of his employees ride bicycles to work.

Jay told me that the company buys used equipment almost exclusively and seldom buys a machine for a specific job. He purchases equipment when he considers it a good value and fit for his company’s expertise. The company also is unafraid to use a variety of brands and controls, such as DMG, Traub, Haas, INDEX, Mazak, Matsuura, and Hurco because his workers are not bothered switching from one control to another. He enjoyed telling me about two 1988 CNC Traub TNA 480 Turn-Milling Centers that the company is currently refurbishing in-house.

Question: What is the most unusual job you’ve had?

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Swarfcast Ep. 38 – Connecting on Cobots: James Persenaire of FANUC

By Noah Graff

On today’s podcast I spoke with James Persenaire, a district manager at FANUC America Corporation. James gave insight into the strengths and weaknesses of collaborative robots and how Fanuc’s collaborative robots differ from competitors such as Universal Robot. He also addressed misconceptions about traditional robots that they are expensive and dangerous. He emphasized that the integration of the robot is the primary factor in both its cost and safety.

Listen to the podcast beneath the video.

Question: Have you brought robots into your machining operation?

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