Conical Cutting Tools has not only been a leading manufacturer and provider of carbide and high-speed steel end mills to customers throughout the United States, but also one of the chief innovators and a trusted resource to the metalworking industry since its founding in 1944.
Management consultant Robert Shindorf purchased the business in 2012 amid a slump in sales. He reformed the sales process, developed a new high performance end mill brand, Global Cutting Tools and improved the sales literature, technical information and catalog. Sales personnel are now properly advised of the best approach to discuss product benefits and features, he says.
When he acquired Conical Cutting Tools, selling through distributors remained a challenging process with much back-and-forth among the customer, distributor and manufacturer, Shindorf relates. For example, oftentimes a customer would place an order through a distributor for a custom product, only providing the basic dimensions of the tool. “That would not be enough information, so the back and forth would start,” Shindorf says.
He knew there had to be a better way so he systematically devised a sales procedure that reduces unneeded communication clutter in the quoting and ordering process. By providing intuitive quoting documents, upfront in the sales process, the customer is aware of all geometry enhancements that are available and Conical can tailor the tool to the customers needs.
Improvements were also made to marketing materials. Some manufacturers provide sales literature or technical information but not both. “We provide both and do it properly,” Shindorf says. Its 300-page catalog features more than 3,000 new high performance tools, beyond its already expansive lines of specialty end mills.
With a better sales process in place with the marketing tools to support it, Shindorf then followed up with a huge marketing push. “We fully developed and tested all our products,” he states. “Each of our products has been designed to compete against all the major manufacturers. We were able to develop an all high-performance tool selection with the latest and greatest geometries. Starting from scratch means we don’t have to support an existing inventory of under-performing tools and our customers can be assured when they buy one of our new tools, they are buying the best.”
Conical Cutting Tools’ new brand, Global, has product lines that feature thousands of new tools, and premium end mills with micro-grain and ultra-fine carbide. With a fresh, new product line, Global Cutting Tools leapfrogged ahead of the competition that Shindorf says is still selling outdated inventory they’ve stockpiled from past years.
“We monitor stock on a daily basis,” Shindorf says. Internal systems trigger appropriate inventory levels. “We project three months of stock based on existing product sell-through.”
Price is a top consideration among Conical Cutting Tools’ customers. “Everyone is very, very concerned about price,” Shindorf says. “There is a price-to-performance ratio you have to hit. We use all premium materials and we are in that sweet spot. We have been able to really streamline our internal operations so our price point can compete with anyone out there. We are manufacturing higher-performance tools, and our customers are getting more value and saving money.”
Conical and Global save money for customers on high-performance products with its innovative geometries. For example, the advanced vibration dampening geometries and core strength of its cutters often allows a customer to use a 1/2 inch tool in place of a 5/8 inch tool and still get the job done. “We have a different approach,” Shindorf says. “Everyone claims their product is the best. People don’t believe it, not everyone’s can be the best. We know our performances can hold up against anyone’s, but we approach the savings to a customer on both performance, and price.”
Conical and Global also differentiates itself in its production process. “We don’t use inferior products to save money,” Shindorf says. “Many do.” Conical and Global Cutting Tools’ customers include Grainger Industrial Supply, gun manufacturer Sturm, Ruger and Co. and NASA, he says.
Customers work in nearly all industries including medical, nuclear and aerospace. “We are basically providing tooling to all the industries out there,” Shindorf explains.
The industries it serves include exotic and aerospace manufacturing; Mold, tool and die; hard milling; medical; U.S. Department of Defense; Casting and foundries; Electronics; Agriculture; Furniture and wood; and Energy.
Ebbco of New Baltimore, Mich. is one business parter. “Ebbco was able to provide us with a space saving solution for our coolant needs and reduce the cost of operating our CNC grinders by centralizing and consolidating the filtration and cooling activities,” Shindorf says. “Without their solution, we would have needed to construct a new building to house our expanded CNC operations. Innovative solutions like this allow us to keep our overhead lower, longer and pass the savings on to our customers.”
In addition to being president of Conical Cutting Tools, Shindorf is a managing member of Stone Fox Ventures, a venture capital and private equity firm. The investment firm acquires, structures, manages and grows underperforming and troubled middle-market manufacturing, distribution and service companies.
Conical Cutting Tools is best known in the market for its end mills, tapered end mills and specialty cutting tools.
“It has always been our mission to provide superior-performing products which solve complex machining challenges for the metalworking industry,” the company says. “We are dedicated to our customers and the industry as a whole and combine ongoing, continuous improvement processes with thousands of hours of new tool development per year.” Conical Cutting Tools says its senior staff members have more than 250 years of combined industry experience. “This lead-by-example culture has allowed us to provide exceptional customer service, build long-lasting customer relationships and manufacture the highest-performing end mills and cutting tools in the industry.”