Julie & Tom Hoban
Former Owners of JTD Enterprises
Dreams do come true … eventually. Tom and Julie Hoban built JTD Enterprises into a successful CNC job shop and manufacturing operation. Now looking to spend more free time riding a Harley and traveling, they found the perfect couple to assume ownership. They are preparing to ride into the sunset, but not before one last ride to IMTS.
Machine Shop Passes the Torch to New Owners
With a new Journeyman's machinist's card in his pocket, 22-year-old Tom Hoban dreamed of starting a job shop, making big money, retiring at 45, and riding his Harley-Davidson into the sunset. It turned out there was a little slack in the drive train … about 18 years' worth.
After ditching a few bad business partners, Tom made his smartest move ever: asking wife Julie to become CEO of a new company, JTD Enterprises, so he could focus on running the technical side of the business. Based in Chilton, Wisconsin, JTD has been machining parts at full throttle since 2004. It employs 22 people and has a fleet of more than 20 CNCs in a 25,000-sq.-ft. shop. JTD adds value through its engineering capabilities and design-for-manufacturability advice and the ability to produce complex, one-off components, or high-volume parts with accuracy and consistency.
Eighteen years later than planned, Tom (now 63) and Julie have transferred ownership of the company to Chad and Jamie Sesing, a thirty-something husband-and-wife team. Tom and Julie got to know Chad when he was a sales rep for Haas Factory Outlet, which distributes, services, and supports Haas Automation Inc. line of machine tools in Eastern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Tom has known Chad for about 13 years, says Julie.
About three years ago, Chad said he'd be interested in taking over if we ever decided to sell, but it wasn't until about a year ago that we started talking more seriously. We knew it would be a perfect fit (see related story with Chad and Jamie).
Still, communicating their decision to the employees was going to be tough.
We decided we would tell the employees the same day Chad told his employer because of how connected this industry is, says Julie.
I thought I was going to throw up. We had prepared for this for over a year, and we were confident in our decision, but they had no idea, and we didn't know how they would react.
While the employees were a bit shocked, Julie reminded them that many of them had asked about succession planning during their performance reviews (with the Hoban's three children pursuing careers outside of the business, it was a logical question). Julie also reminded them of Chad's vast knowledge of their machines, and also his long relationship with JTD.
Julie let them know that Chad picked JTD because of the employees and the culture we created, so it was clear that he wanted the business, says Tom.
She said, ‘You should be proud that this guy chose you. He could have bought any company, but he came to us.’
Julie isn't walking away until Jamie has settled into her new role, and Tom will remain connected to JTD because of his other company and true love. Hoban Brothers Motorcycles/Darkhouse Crankworks, which Tom owns with brother Pat Hoban and additional partner John Dahmer, is a Harley-Davidson performance parts and service dealer with 42 years of experience in sales and service of all American-made motorcycles and products.
Hoban Brothers is JTD's biggest customer because of their patented motor sprocket. We run that part on several machines every day, says Tom.
With the transfer of the business, I'm looking forward to spending more time designing other parts we can build at the shop. I told Chad I'll need to cut my hours here from 50 to 60 hours a week to less than 30.
Traveling is another calling, but fortunately motorcycle and traveling also fit well together.
We'll be doing more traveling, and quite a bit, because that's his true love, says Julie.
His dream is to stop at motorcycle dealers all over and talk about their products. As long as I'm along for the ride, that'll be good.
It may not be on a motorcycle, but IMTS in Chicago is a mandatory stop and has been for Tom since the early 1980s and the JTD team since the company's founding in 2004.
IMTS offers everything you want to see in manufacturing,” says Tom “I always go into the Hexagon metrology booth because there's always something fun and exciting. That's where I looked at our new programmable CMM and ended up purchasing it to fulfill a customer request.”
Tom explains that a customer wanted a 500-piece prototype run on a complicated part with tight tolerances.
Checking tolerance mid-run previously required 45 minutes but now only takes 2 minutes on our Hexagon 7.10.7 SF bridge-type CMM. We've also added scanning capabilities with a new Absolute Arm 85, which will allow us to reduce inspection time even further, says Tom.
IMTS 2018 also offered the JTD design engineering team a chance to test new software.
At IMTS 2018, we saved 50% on a 5-axis software package, and we were able to see it in action before purchasing it, says Tom.
I also like to stay on top of new tooling, but then again, you can't run new tooling at high spindle speeds with old machines. You need to stay on top of changing technology.
Bringing the team is a tradition Julie started. If nothing else, she wanted them to be able to meet their technology providers and even some of their OEM customers face-to-face. IMTS 2022 was Tom and Julie's last as part of JTD, and the memories are already bittersweet.
I love taking the team to the show. I love our building and our employees, and I feel comfortable that they're in good hands,” says Julie. “Chad and Jamie are just pretty much just stepping in our shoes, and we're slowly going to sneak away.” Well, as quietly as a Harley can sneak.IMTS Rockstars