Jamie & Chad Sesing
CEO and Vice President & Plant Manager of JTD Enterprises
Buying a shop should fit your objectives, experience, financial expectations, and more, but it may not be right if it doesn't feel right. Don't disregard your gut. These new shop owners rely on IMTS as their one-stop-shopping trip to improve efficiency for their current work, but also think about the parts they don't have yet.
Job Shop Acquisition: Go With Your Gut
New business acquisition can be rocky, but a successful change of ownership often includes more than strategies or checklists. When couple Chad and Jamie Sesing bought JTD Enterprises, Chilton, Wisconsin, they knew it was a good fit and couldn't have imagined a better transition.
In business since 2004, JTD operates out of a 25,000-sq.-ft. facility and with a seasoned workforce that includes 12 journeymen, three machinists with decades of experience and two machinist apprentices. JTD couples that knowledge with in-house engineering capabilities using software from Autodesk, Dassault and Mastercam, a fleet of Haas vertical and horizontal mills, Hanwha Swiss-style lathes, Miller welders, and Hexagon metrology equipment.
You can examine the equipment list, the financials, and the customer base, but at the end of the day, it really comes down to a gut feeling, says Chad, now vice president and plant manager, JTD Enterprises, a 22-person job shop and manufacturer of precision CNC machined parts.
It can be right on paper, but it's got to feel right, too. For anyone purchasing a company, I can say that we had the luxury of working with founders Tom and Julie Hoban in a transition that was a partnership, versus a sale.
Chad, 37, started as an apprentice and then Journeyman machinist with Giddings & Lewis (part of the Fives Group) and worked there for 7-1/2 years. He moved to Haas Factory Outlet, which distributes, services and supports the Haas line of machine tools in Eastern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He started as a service technician, became a certified service trainer, went into sales, and then became sales manager. Jamie worked as a claims adjuster for Sheboygan-based Acuity Insurance, which employs 1,500 people.
I wanted to become a job shop owner because I wanted to own my own business but stick with something that I knew and was comfortable in doing, says Chad.
At JTD, I'll be able to set-up, maintain and service the machines. My vision for my role in the first six months is to be on the floor working with the team members and absorbing the JTD culture and processes. That will enable me to help them better on the back side when I shift to forward planning.
Chad formed a relationship with Tom and Julie Hoban, respectively Vice President and CEO, during his routine sales and service calls over the years. The relationship grew when they attended a Haas factory tour in Oxnard, California, a Roush NASCAR event in North Carolina and an F1 (Formula One) event in Austin.
As a Haas sales rep, I was very involved with both my product and the people I did business with, says Chad.
I wanted to find them the right solution, not just get another piece of equipment on the books. I want to build my reputation and relationships from a quality standpoint. That's who I am as a person.
The Sesings had looked at purchasing another CNC machine tool shop, but it just didn't have the right gut feeling. Because he knew Tom and Julie and their company culture, the feeling was right.
Chad came home after visiting with Tom and Julie and told me that he offered to purchase their business if they ever wanted to retire, says Jamie, now CEO of JTD Enterprises.
I was really nervous at first because this is a totally different venture for us, even though I have a business and accounting background. Then when we went to meet them, I learned they're so much like us. We just clicked. In my heart and in my gut, it feels like we can be lifelong friends and this venture is going to work.
We didn't have the same gut feeling with the other shop that we did with JTD, says Chad.
One of the many reasons we decided to work with Tom and Julie and acquire JTD is the people. They have built a great team, and they're all go-getters. They want this company to succeed, and you can tell because they treat it as they would their own. The quality of work at JTD is impressive. It takes true craftmanship to make something to spec when you're making a one-off part.
We've had plenty of customers tour the facility as part of the ownership transition, and the JTD team is exceptional, adds Jamie.
They talk to the customers, explain what they're doing with a smile, show them parts – it's priceless. You can't find that just anywhere.
Chad also remembers a recipe for success he learned from an old-timer at Giddings & Lewis.
He told me to surround yourself with good people, and good people will surround you. That's what Tom and Julie did at JTD. They created an extraordinary culture.
Continuing the Tradition
Part of JTD's empowerment activities include bringing the team to IMTS, a tradition Jamie and Chad plan to continue.
We want to look into automated tooling and workholding and more automation in general, says Chad.
Automation is the next big leap for machine shops. Basically, you either get on board or get run over. We want to use automation to grow the business at an even higher rate than what Tom and Julie have achieved over the last 18 years.
Automating higher volume part runs will enable our people to work on more complicated jobs and one-off and two-off parts, adds Jamie.
With more robots, we will have more availability to bid higher volume work along with complex jobs, where our journeymen can shine.
Chad, who first attended IMTS since 2008 as part of the Haas team, advises job shops to approach IMTS methodically.
IMTS is a one-stop-shopping trip to improve efficiency for your current work, but also think about the parts you don't have yet,” he says. “You also need to have your day planned out when you go there, because you'll get lost very fast. There will be a lot of shiny toys at IMTS.”