A degree in journalism may lead to reporting, broadcasting, or marketing, but rarely does this road lead to cleaning machines. Imagine Brendt Holden’s surprise when he showed up wearing a suit and tie. Now president of Haimer USA (IMTS booth #431510), Holden earned a journalism degree from Miami University. After graduation, he accepted a job from a close friend whose father owned a small machine shop. “My friend’s father looks at me and says, ‘Why in the world are you wearing a suit and tie? Go home and put on jeans and a T-shirt,’” says Holden. “All I did for the first six weeks was clean machines.”After proving his work ethic, the shop owner introduced him to making parts, working on ID, OD, and surface grinders, and eventually learning manual lathe and mill work. Being young and knowing computers, the owner thought Holden would also adapt well to the shop’s new CNCs.“To advance, I went to the local community college at night to learn more about what was I actually doing during the day,” he says. “That taught me a lot about the industry, and that is how I got into manufacturing.Born to Run…FasterHolden met the Haimer family when he was working for a tooling company, Tecnara Tooling Systems, the first importer for North America of the HAIMER balancing machine. He was then working as a regional sales manager for HPI Nikken (now Lyndex-Nikken, IMTS booth #43180) when he happened to run into Mrs. Haimer at IMTS 2000.HPI Nikken became the first importer of Haimer’s new inductive shrink-fit machine, and in 2002, Holden founded Haimer’s North American operation. By 2003, the company had introduced products for the North American market (imperial measurements, CAT-style toolholders) and moved into a facility it occupies to this day. “We now make 4,000 toolholders a day,” says Holden. “We’re not just an assembly house. We make the end product.” As a manufacturer themselves, Haimer has “to look at what we need to be more successful and more productive,” which gives Haimer greater insight into customer needs.As an example, Holden notes that as CNC spindle speeds increased, users needed to balance their toolholding to protect the spindles, obtain a better surface finish, and hold higher part tolerances. More importantly, users wanted to run their machines as fast as they were designed to run.“We make our own balancing machines, inductive shrink-fit machines, and tool presetters,” says Holden. “So, everything we introduce or deliver to the market is based on our own needs and proven in our own production.”Completing the CircleHolden notes that some people get intimidated by automation. “They think, ‘Oh goodness, everything’s going to be totally different.’ But it doesn’t need to be that way,” he says. “I see automation and digital technologies as promising,” says Holden. “The opportunity for all these companies is exciting, encouraging, and has endless possibilities. I encourage everyone, and particularly job shops, to embrace automation and digitization, even if they start slowly.”For example, automation could be as simple as a part shuttling system or a robot to load parts. “Automation doesn’t need to be this grand change of everything. In fact, I would highly recommend you don’t try to bite off more than you can chew,” he advises.Holden feels the same way about digitalization: monitor what you can during the machining cycle, but make sure you can maintain a steady state to obtain consistent results. “Most people don’t think about the toolholder component, but if a toolholder is not set up the same each and every time, all that data you’ve collected is really worth nothing,” he says. One way to improve set up is through RFID chips that track data. “Machine tool accessories are often overlooked when it comes to digitalization of a job shop, but we really feel it’s an incredibly important part of where industry needs to look in order to complete the circle of digitalization and give themselves the most efficiency,” says Holden. 
What is the world according to Brendt Holden? “Promising” captures Brendt’s perspective on manufacturing as it presents endless potential and exciting opportunities. He encourages job shops to embrace advanced technologies because they’re essential for completing the circle of digitalization and gaining maximum efficiency.