Automation is often presented as “taking jobs” away from real workers, but Red Horizon Engineering owner, Steve Geroski, sees it as a company builder for smaller businesses.
“When I established my own job shop for engineering, maintenance, equipment design, and laser cutting, it was software and automation programs that allowed me to maintain efficiency and quality to match the larger players – it’s what gave me a chance to be competitive,” he said.
After 17 years as a senior operations manager for a major tire and rubber company, Steve decided to “bet the house” and establish his own engineering company, with a 6000W CNC fiber laser.
“There is a huge demand for laser cut materials here in Ohio and surrounding areas, especially from heavy industry. But I just don’t have time to manually quote all the orders while establishing and managing all areas of my business,” he said.
Red Horizon Engineering’s laser cutting machine is capable of cutting 1” mild steel, 1/2” Stainless Steel, 3/8” aluminium, and 1/4” brass, with titanium and other metals available too.
Steve wanted to avoid the headaches of using spreadsheets or clunky interfaces within Excel estimating software programs to quote jobs, so he did some research, and found ToolBox, by Tempus Tools, a rules-based laser cutting quoting software specifically designed for laser cutting job shops.
“ToolBox has been one of the smoothest and most intuitive programs I’ve ever used. This meant I could implement it straight away and start quoting for orders while continuing to set up other parts of the job shop,” he said.
“I could easily train my business partner Joe to use the software when I’m not here, and as we expand in the future, training new staff won’t be a time-consuming exercise. The job shop estimating software is well laid out, it has point-to-click functionality, and it’s clear it has been designed by professionals who know this industry inside out.”
“And the support has been outstanding. I get quick responses, there’s a group for asking questions and providing feedback. It’s so rare to find a company so receptive to customer feedback, but Tempus Tools takes customer comments and uses them to create new features or enhance existing ones.”
Red Horizon Engineering’s laser cutting quotes are mostly going to heavy industry, which typically demands pre-welded parts on 1/4” plate or larger, and are often used for materials handling equipment, such as conveyors. But they also get jobs for signage, personal projects, and even commercial art.
“Heavy industry is where we see growth, but the other projects are a lot of fun. And with ToolBox, it’s so easy to adjust pricing on the fly. I haven’t had to turn down any work since we opened, because I’m not wasting time manually preparing quotes,” said Steve.
Investing in Tube Capabilities
Steve decided to further differentiate himself from the competition by adding a rotary attachment to his laser cutting machine to allow tube cutting.
“Not many fabrication shops have this capability – it’s usually bigger steel suppliers – and there was interest in it straight away. But tube is almost impossible to quote manually. With ToolBox, I can easily input the information and get an accurate quote every time,” he said.
The Tube feature allows the user to easily drag and drop rectangular, square, or round hollow sections into ToolBox. It flattens the part and calculates runtime in the quoting module.
Looking To The Future
As Steve continues to establish and grow his job shop, the next ToolBox feature he plans to implement is Web Store, which provides a 24/7 online store for laser cutting, which he can embed into his own website.
“With Web Store, customers can get quotes and place orders via my website, which multiplies the number of orders I’m able to receive. I plan on setting up a member’s login area where my valued customers can access this service 24/7,” he said.
“Tempus Tools has built some fantastic features into their ToolBox software, and I’ve been impressed with the responsiveness of their support team. Their price-point is also highly competitive, so it was the best decision for my business.”