5 Hard Lessons from a 28-Year-Old Startup Machine Shop Owner

By Peter Zelinski, Editor-in-Chief, Modern Machine Shop

Do you like setup? That is, at the machine tool, in preparing for a job, do you like the work of thinking through how the part should be held, how the part should be machined and how to efficiently put the setup in place?

Dan Donaworth does. He likes setup, and he says this seemingly small preference is important to the success he’s had so far. He is the president, founder and sole employee of Dan’s Custom Machining in Williamsburg, Ohio, the four-year-old shop that became his only employment when he quit his day job late last year at age 27. (He is now 28.) And when Mr. Donaworth mentioned this characteristic about himself — that he enjoys setup — that was a moment in which I could immediately relate. I believe I understand, because when people ask me if they might be suited to my work, writing, I ask…

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