We found this blog post very relevant and thought it would be something all of our registered businesses could understand and learn from. Thanks again to our regular contributor Jon Cantin, from CNCRoi.com who are based in Ontario, Canada.
Running through the almost 300 blog posts on this website, it quickly become evident that not only have our skills improved but they have also diversified significantly since founding almost two years ago. Our first MAJOR project was with Formica and it was a blazing success! We got the project because I had the foresight to buy a HUGE industrial wide-format laser with plenty of power and speed. These sheets were up to 3 meters long and we could pass them through our machine and cut through it at a rate that made financial sense for all involved. Up until that point, we NEVER cut through Formica before.
Afterwards, we got a bunch of projects across metal from stainless steel to anodized aluminium. A completely different set of materials requiring a different approach and laser tube as well! Luckily, I had the foresight to buy my Trotec Speedy 300 flexx with BOTH a CO2 (cuts Formica fantastically) and Fiber (engraving/marking metal) so the transition was pretty straight forward.
The challenge with having such a unique business where we can essentially do anything with any material is trying to get this capability across to potential customers. To most people, saying “I can do anything” has the same effect as saying “I can’t do anything” as “normally”, this is a very true statement.
You heard of the quote “Jack of all trades, master of none”, well, generally this is the case… except that after doing THOUSANDS of units in Formica, you actually become a pretty good expert at cutting and optimizing it with a laser. Those skills completely transfer to other materials and processes… as such, that quote doesn’t really have much weight. We aren’t building high-strength aircraft landing gear, we are making the seat number tags… it’s a whole other ball game.
The other challenge ever-present at CNCROi.com is equipment. We do an increasing amount of metal in the shop from custom stamping blanks through engraving and all of those skills require specialized tools and expertise. We have “some” forming capabilities that we do on a regular basis as part of prototyping but other trades like welding is something that I’ve stayed clear of, a master welder isn’t something you can become over the course of a week or even a year.
There are definite limits and income generated in one area is pushed into others to grow capabilities and expand efficiencies, that’s where our trusted suppliers come in as well.
Education is Key
Due to our broad skill set, education is key for us to demonstrate to customers that what they envision is actually possible! Most people go with the status-quo, from awards to promotional items to things around the office and int he shop. Why? It’s EASY and been done thousands of times before. Why go through the “hassle” of trying to figure-out a new design for delrin seals or stamps that will stand-out and be unique… most just go with the old PO and issue another one with updated dates.
I can’t really say that anything we do in the shop is rocket science, it just takes time and money to learn all this stuff. There are no shortcuts to learning how to effectively cut Corian with a CNC router and engraving it with a laser then paint filling the results… you just have to do it, over and over again, until the results are as expected. Running through all these blog posts, you can see it as a class where we play with new and old material, testing limits and processes and continually refining them.
What I enjoy most about CNCROi.com is the creative customers we have, education very much goes both ways. They have their materials and processes which, quite often, they ARE an absolute expert in and then we come to the table and ideas go flying all over the place. I use my knowledge about materials and CNCs and they use theirs and together, we develop something either mundane or really cool!
For instance, I met-up with a customer last week whom we do lots of foam projects with and I showed them what we can do in Corian and they were blown away. What was most interesting though is that the conversation switched from foam to Corian and they actually had a unique application that they had a need for that Corian would fit perfectly for. It was a fantastic idea and I’ll be making a prototype to show them in the coming days.
We’ve had customers where there was a need of something unique but at the time, we didn’t have any experience with the material they wanted the project made from. So, we grab samples and did our testing, revelling something that would work perfectly for them and some of our other customers! We then show these material results to both and end-up linking two previous companies who knew nothing about one another together into mutual suppliers.
It’s about PASSION
You’d think that after writing the equivalent of a massive novel online with all these blog posts things would start to slow down, I’d run out of material to show, videos to produce and things to talk about. That hasn’t been the case. If anything, these posts are getting longer, more detailed and packed with more and more content. Why? Because what I do at CNCROi.com isn’t a job to me, it isn’t even a business, it’s a passion.
When our customers are looking for solutions to their problems, I really enjoy coming up with them. I enjoy going on plant tours and finding out how some of the materials we use are made. I enjoy coming-up with unique marketing and promotional items for our customers.
We’ve made some BEAUTIFUL signs, we’ve made some AMAZING custom coasters as we’ve done some cutting and engraving that have gone into major stores and businesses… and it’s fun to look back at all the neat stuff we’ve done!
The fact that we can’t show any of the customer work we’ve done might be seen as odd or a brick wall when it comes to marketing but if I’ve proven anything in the past, it makes no difference. Our customers know our capabilities, trust us with their secrets and hire us again and again to come-up with innovative solutions to their problems.
Hire for Passion, Return due to Results
Like a good employer, you generally hire for passion and train people into their position. We are no different, once we have a customer and established what we can do and deliver the results they are after, they come again and again with different ideas and projects. Things don’t always go according to plan, but that’s when we shine.
One of our bigger customers had a problem with one of our projects a while back, it wasn’t antibodies fault, the material simply degraded over time, it was something we all though would work and it ended-up not – when you try new stuff, sometimes it just doesn’t work out. What did we do? We didn’t just cut another one to replace it, we agreed that material for that application wasn’t the best and moved onto something that would. How much did we charge the customer? NOTHING. Why? Because we stood behind our work! We’ve since done a lot MORE projects for them because they know if there are any problems, they know we’ll work with them to fix it!
I’m reminded by something Richard Branson said a while back, he doesn’t succeed because he’s so much better, he succeeds because so many other companies just don’t care! There is always a reason NOT to do something, there is always a goal that isn’t worth pursuing and there is always a way to limit your success. I’m very proud that we’ve been able to find customers who don’t think in these limited ways. They want a solution that succeeds, even if it means a few bumps along the road before you get to the end.
I wish there was an easy way to explain what CNCROi.com does, the simplest thing I can come-up with is that we are custom solutions providers but even that doesn’t cover what we offer.