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The MAKING CHIPS Podcast for Manufacturing Leaders with Jason Zenger & Jim Carr

Welcome to MakingChips - We believe that manufacturing is challenging, but if you are connected to a community of leaders, you can elevate your skills, solve your problems and grow your business. Making Chips is a weekly podcast that will EQUIP and INSPIRE MANUFACTURING LEADERS to succeed in the challenging world of manufacturing. Our mission is for the METALWORKING NATION to Think Differently About Manufacturing In Order to Elevate their Game. Your hosts, Jason Zenger & Jim Carr, own manufacturing businesses and interview other leaders in the metalworking, machining, fabrication, tooling and machine tool industries. We have interviewed successful manufacturing CEOs you may have not heard of and also the biggest names in manufacturing like Titan Gilroy from Titans of CNC, John Saunders from NYC CNC, Mark Terryberry from Haas Automation and others from MakerCast, Sandvik Coromant, Autocrib and more. Think of us as your virtual community of manufacturing peers to help solve your toughest problems and grow your business. "Making Chips has provided a transparent approach to sharing within the manufacturing community and a modern platform to do so. Thank you both for taking the lead on moving our industry segment forward!" Patricia Miller - CEO & Visionary (Matrix IV) I really think what you guys are doing is a great, great thing for manufacturing. I have learned so much already from many of your episodes, and am so thrilled to have met people that get as revved up about manufacturing as I do! Cassandra Haupers – Vice President of Operations (Swiss Precision Machining) I love being able to experience what manufacturers are doing to promote culture and engage their team members and community. All of us are smarter than one of us. That is why I am part of the Making Chips tribe. Barry E. Walter, Jr. – Chief Operating Officer (Barry E. Walter, Sr. Co.) Finally, relevant manufacturing media that is actually entertaining! Dietmar Goellner – Chief Executive Officer (Advanced Machine & Engineering / Hennig) The more manufacturing companies we can get to think this way, the stronger our industry will be. Thank you for sharing! Jess Giudici – Manager, Talent and Culture I’m thankful to you for creating MakingChips for the Metalworking Nation so that Owners / Employees can strengthen their companies. Phil Sponsler – President (ORBITFORM) I love the podcast! It really serves to fill a void in the manufacturing world. I will admit I always feel a little more inspired. Jason Falk – Senior Application Engineer, CMTSE (HURCO) Thanks to all the great info on your podcasts and the website. Dave Lechleitner – Director of Solutions and Product Marketing (KEYEDIN) I really love what you guys are doing to advance the mfg industry in a way that really reaches the right audiences. Jeff Rizzie – Senior Manager-Business Development (Sandvik Coromant)
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Sep 10, 2019

Being a manufacturing leader is difficult, especially if you are a manufacturing entrepreneur! With so many possible opportunities and pitfalls, it can be hard to know how to navigate the small-business world of an entrepreneur. Guest speaker, John Saunders, shares his insight and experience as a leading manufacturing entrepreneur and the ways he has successfully set his business apart and thrived through slow growth. 

Founder and owner of Saunders Machine Works, John is a serial entrepreneur with his hands in multiple jobs, including running the NYC CNC YouTube channel and overseeing the training and manufacturing sides of his small business. His YouTube channel has become a medium to influence, inspire, and encourage aspiring and seasoned machinists in their careers. 

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Defining the “why” helps drive the business forward

Although he attended college to learn entrepreneurship, John found that his key takeaways came from practical experience in selling and machining. Originally wanting to create a business in order to provide a specific product, he quickly realized that creating an excellent product isn’t the same as creating an excellent business. In order to generate a successful business, you have to know the “why” behind the work and the products created. 

Entrepreneurship isn’t for the faint of heart. John advises that if you are having doubts as to whether or not you really want to work for yourself and jump into the world of paperwork, legality issues, building, training, hiring, producing, and customer service, then you may want to work for someone else for a couple of years. Study how your boss leads and drives their business forward - and then go try it for yourself. 

John’s business - Saunders Machine Works - grew out of his love for CNC machining and sharing its workhorse capability with viewers on YouTube via his NYC CNC channel. Continuing with the YouTube channel, he wanted a business that could also train individuals in machining and sell manufacturing tools and products. The three-part business has kept up steady - yet slow growth - just as John wants it. 

Knowing when to jump at an opportunity and when to say NO

Keeping a focus on who you are and why you do what you do helps you to navigate the way forward. Instead of chasing every glittering opportunity, consider whether or not it will help fulfill the goals of your business or help create a better experience for your customers. What you are selling isn’t just the object in the box - it’s the atmosphere, relationship, and experience that you are offering your customers. 

For John, this means finding the best ways to share the modern world of manufacturing with others. His YouTube channel provides a place for machinists of all experience levels to ask questions, easily view videos that demonstrate solutions to popular machining problems, and be a part of the manufacturing community. The training classes that Saunders Machine Works offers provide practical experience in a variety of machining skills and open the door to both young and old to explore manufacturing as a hobby or career. John’s business also values offering internship and apprenticeship-modeled jobs to those who need practical experience through their product manufacturing side of Saunders Machine Works. 

The goal in sorting through opportunities is to make continuous improvements in your processes - to make them as efficient and streamlined as possible - all without wasting resources. Bootstrapping is the ability of your business to leverage your equity for the greatest return on investment. Money and time are ever manufacturing entrepreneur’s most limited resources. In some phases of your business, you may find that you are lower in one of those resources than another. If you have the opportunity to grow in your knowledge and skills as a master of your trade, take them! Don’t be wasteful. Invest with results. 

John’s take on managing growth as a manufacturing entrepreneur

“Growth eats cash for breakfast,” John warns. We are trained to think that any growth opportunity is a good opportunity, but it’s wiser and more profitable to consider each one through the lens of your “why.” With such a large following, John often gets calls offering partnerships with other businesses. Due to a poor partnership experience in his early entrepreneurial days, John has decided to never partner with another business. The true 50/50 partnership is rare and often difficult to maintain. That doesn’t mean you should never try it, but know where you want your business to go and maintain integrity with those goals through your growth tactics. Be sure to listen to the entire episode for more insight into making the best growth decisions possible.

Creating content that reflects your company’s values and meets your customers’ needs

It can be easy for entrepreneurs to become overwhelmed by all the marketing and advertising mediums available. John stresses the importance of only utilizing what you need, what you can afford, and what will speak most authentically to your potential customers. John aligns his content creation with his goal to help others help themselves in their manufacturing stories. Be honest about what you are portraying through social media. Authenticity is a huge factor; make it a point to share the stories that surround the challenges that your business has faced and the solutions that you found. Make note of what you are personally drawn to on social media and study why you like it. At the end of the day, it’s not about you. It’s about your current and potential customers and the quality of what you are offering them. 

Here’s The Good Stuff!

  • Fostering a positive atmosphere among a multigenerational workforce. 
  • Guest speaker, John Saunders - owner of Saunders Machine Works.
  • The product isn’t always the business. 
  • Knowing how to market yourselves requires a knowledge of who you are as a business. 
  • YouTube, training, and machining.
  • What you sell isn’t just the product in the box - it’s the experience you offer.
  • Hands-on experience provides the best education. 
  • John’s love of CNC machining and sharing what modern manufacturing looks like.
  • The apprenticeship model of training provides key experiences.
  • Why John says “no” to partnership opportunities. 
  • “Growth eats cash for breakfast” - knowing the goal in your growth. 
  • Using bootstrapping to reduce wasted resources and to grow where you are at. 
  • Good content creation is about knowing your goals and customers. 
  • The role of small businesses in the future of manufacturing. 
  • “If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not making money.” 

Tools & Takeaways

This Week’s Superstar Guest: John Saunders

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