Malachi Greb, my guest on today’s show, has a mission, “freeing humans, one robot at a time.”
He is the founder of Elite Automation, a company that designs automated systems for manufacturing clients, taking manual processes and automating them with robotics, conveyors, vision, and more. They also provide robotic welding systems.
Malachi and I talked about some of the latest technologies in the robotics field. Malachi also hosts the Manufacturing Come Up Podcast.
We discussed his career journey, from dropping out of high school on purpose to founding his own company in his 20s, which has grown to 27 employees in just a few years.
Perhaps the most interesting thing we talked about is how Malachi channels the same type of programming skills he uses in robotics to create a business system that enables him to scale his company.
If you’re looking for an interview with an astute entrepreneur who doesn’t like to take no for an answer, or you just want to learn about industrial robots, this one’s for you.
Question: If you could automate one task in your life, what would it be?
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Noah: What’s your story? How did you come to start Elite Automation?
Malachi: I started off a little bit rough – dropped out of high school at 16 but got a quick GED at 17. I began college to be an electrical lineman but realized I needed a commercial trucking license for the job. At that point in time, I had a suspended license, and I was going to be suspended for like two years. So I pivoted to robotics.
After graduating, I worked for a systems integrator, gaining skills in areas like robot and PLC programming, vision, motion control and safety systems.
Noah: What made you start Elite Automation?
Malachi: The company I was at didn’t have the leadership that was needed to grow. It was in business for 20-something years at that point, and it was still a fairly small company.
I kind of had it in my mind at some point that I wanted to be an executive in a company. And, I don’t do very well in the corporate setting as far as climbing a ladder
Noah: How did you break into working with big auto companies?
Malachi: They usually start small, outsourcing programming, then increasing project scope and cost if you deliver. Building relationships takes consistency and patience.
Noah: On your t-shirt it says, “Freeing People One Robot at a Time.” Do you see a parallel in how you have designed your business to free yourself from day-to-day 9-5 tasks?
Malachi: I came from a programming background. It’s definitely created a mentality of a very systematic approach that paired with my desire to scale the company and grow it to one of the largest companies in the world.
The objective is to free my time so I can operate as CEO of the company.
Noah: Cobots versus standard industrial robots. Are Cobots a bit overrated?
Malachi: I’d say they are overrated. Especially if they’re not equipped with other tools like a vision system, bin picking vision, things along those lines.
And people are trying to use them in complex situations, which doesn’t really help with their name. Also you probably lose somewhere around 30% speed (compared to traditional robots).
But there are also really good use cases for them too. Like if something fits within their payload and it’s a slower cycle time. Palletization makes a lot of sense with collaborative robots because you don’t have to worry about putting up the full fencing around it.
Noah: Thank you, Malachi.
Note: This transcript excerpt is a condensed depiction of the interview, partially created with the assistance of AI. Various sentences and paragraphs have been combined or paraphrased to improve readability.