Sheet metal instead of milk
Darrel Bishop built a successful business with an unrelenting work ethic learned from a dairy farm.
Darrel Bishop was eighteen years old when he stepped away from his family’s dairy farm to take a job at an electric motor manufacturing company. Over the next sixteen years he was promoted from packing motors on the assembly line to managing 200 production employees and over half the manufacturing operation. At the same time, he also went to college and for eight years ran his own small dairy farm with his wife, Dana. Hard work was simply the way of life for this young Missouri family.
Scouting the way
In 1997, Darrel became Supplier Quality Engineer for a company that designed and manufactured circuit board equipment. For the first time, he was exposed to the world of sheet metal fabrication. He also learned how difficult it was to find a dependable supplier. Darrel knew he could offer a better solution and, realizing he had found his niche, decided to open a metal fabrication company.
“I always knew I wanted to own my own business,” he recalls. “I saw a need and opportunity for a company that would, ‘honestly say what they could do, and follow through with what they said.’” So, Darrel and his wife borrowed $76,000 and built a 4,000 square foot metal building on their farm in rural Missouri. They also bought a band saw, drill press and welding equipment, hired an experienced welder and started Metaltech Products Inc.
On the farm, as Darrel reports, “no matter your health or the weather, you go to work early and come home late.” He applied this work ethic to his young company and began to build a strong reputation.
When a small sheet metal fabrication company came up for sale in 2001, Darrel jumped on the chance to expand. He bought all the assets, including three turret punch presses, two press brakes, a shear and several welding machines and installed them within a new addition to the shop. Metaltech’s fabrication capabilities increased as did its aptitude for maintaining and operating more complex machinery.
Rounding up technology
A few years later, Darrel started to investigate CNC punching equipment after recognizing newer technologies had tremendous speed advantages over his turret presses. He found sales representatives at Icon Machine Tool, a distributor of metal fabrication equipment, “were very accommodating, answered questions and showed us what we needed to see,” recalls Darrel.
This included a visit to TRUMPF. “I wanted to do business with a company that was willing and able to teach – leaders who were serious about this industry,” and Darrel identified TRUMPF as a company that fit the bill.
A safe future
“From my background as a quality engineer, I felt very comfortable TRUMPF had a system and culture in place to produce superior products. Talking to users of the equipment, I confirmed exactly that. It had the qualities I was looking for and gave me peace of mind for the future.”
Metaltech invested in a TruPunch 2020 punching machine and quickly saw the return. “The tremendous increase in speed, reliability and precision of the machine and TRUMPF tooling enabled us to retire three older machines, increase production and reduce time per part.” Although dependent on the single machine, Metaltech’s punching and forming capabilities were more secure than ever. “Our down time was basically zero and our reliability to our customers significantly improved,” explains Darrel.
With customers ranging from the telecommunications industry to industrial equipment manufacturers, Metaltech needed to stay flexible. By 2008, Darrel was again ready to expand with an addition to the shop and two new machines: a TruLaser 2030 and a TruBend 5085 press brake. The TruLaser replaced a plasma cutting machine which could not meet the tighter tolerances Darrel knew his customers needed and the TruBend’s extended stroke was ideal for weather enclosures, battery racks and similar jobs that often appeared at Metaltech.
“Based on the performance of our TruPunch 2020 and excellent service support, it was an easy decision.” He continues, “With our two skilled maintenance workers and TRUMPF’s knowledgeable technical assistance online and through phone support, we can take care of almost any maintenance issues that arise. The support has been excellent.” Just a year after he installed the TruLaser 2030 and the TruBend, Darrel invested in a “tough, workhorse machine,” the TruLaser 3030 with LiftMaster.
Building the herd
Although precision fabrication machines have replaced the dairy cows, the Bishop family still works together to maintain daily operations. Darrel and Dana’s oldest son Blake is the Operations and Finance Manager while younger son Brice is learning the business from the ground up. Brice often runs the laser cutting machines as well as the TruTool TSC 100, a power tool the company purchased in 2011 to clean the laser table slats.
Prior to this purchase, laser operators would hammer the slag free. The job was hard on their hands and wrists, caused slag to fly up to 20 feet from the table and created tension between workers who avoided the task. It was done less often than needed, requiring Metaltech to cut and replace the slats every two months.
With the TruTool TSC 100 the work is no longer a burden. “The slats stay cleaner, helping us to produce higher quality parts,” says Darrel. “The new slat cleaner has proven to be very profitable. It is efficient and has more than doubled the life of the slats, but most importantly, the operator stays safe while keeping the slats in good working order.”
Working faster by using a beveller
The company was so pleased with the TRUMPF power tool, it also purchased a TruTool TKF 700 beveller. Darrel asserts, “It takes 1/16 the time to chamfer a 6 inch pipe and once again, it is much safer, consistent and requires less cleanup time than our old process of using a grinder.” Regardless of the process, “Our customers look for the lowest price but also expect quality and delivery reliability– that’s a given in this business. The TRUMPF equipment has kept Metaltech precise, competitive and dependable for our customers.”
Eyes on the horizon
Darrel Bishop has built a successful company by providing high quality parts with the utmost attention to reliability. “Metaltech has been blessed with good employees, customers and growth over the years and I know we could not have done what we have without the reliability and cutting edge technology of the TRUMPF equipment.” With hard work and an honest approach to business, Metaltech Products, Inc. is truly ahead of the competition.
Contact us: MastersofSheetMetal@trumpf.com
This article was first published in autumn 2013.