Fullerton Tool Co. Inc.
Issue Winter 12
Fullerton Tool Co. Inc.’s customers expect nothing less than the highest-quality products available. “Our customers expect perfection; they want consistency and reliability,” says Patrick Curry, president of the Saginaw, Mich.-based precision tool manufacturer. “When they pull one of our tools out of the tube, they want performance.”
Reliability and high performance are a must for Fullerton Tool’s tools, as they are used to produce parts and components used in a number of industries where precision and quality are critical. These include the medical, aerospace, automotive, heavy equipment, defense and mold-and-die sectors.
Fullerton Tool’s solid tungsten carbide cutting tools include saws, drills, reamers, keyseat cutters and end mills. In addition to its more than 8,500 SKUs and standard product lines, the company has the capability to make tools specifically to meet customers’ specifications. Roughly 45 percent of the company’s business is in special orders. “Our products are high-end when it comes to quality, and we manufacture a great deal of difficult tooling that many other companies don’t want to do,” Curry says.
Much of the company’s custom manufacturing and customer service functions are driven by its Fullerton Advanced Solutions Team (FAST), a collection of design and manufacturing engineers as well as employees from technical sales and support teams. The FAST team’s purpose is to provide solutions to customers’ issues without disrupting their productivity, he adds.
The team recently developed FAST Quote, a quoting system located on Fullerton Tool’s website that allows customers to custom-design end mills. Customers fill in the measurements and quantities of a specific end mill into the system, which generates a price as well as an image of the end mill. The company plans to expand the system to generate quotes on drills, saws and other products.
The FAST Quote system reflects the company’s philosophy to “innovate or evaporate.” This goal also drives Fullerton Tool’s research and development efforts, which are aided through an in-house lab. The lab features equipment that can analyze different cutting tools to measurements within microns. “We have many resources at hand that allow us to provide solutions to our customers,” Curry says.
Fullerton Tool’s manufacturing operations include the use of CNC machines, three of which were added in recent years. United Grinding Technologies Inc. provided two Helitonic Power CNC machines with wheel changers and robot loaders within the last year. CNC tool cutting and grinding machines are driven by the use of computer-aided design and computer-assisted manufacturing software. The company has the capability to run between 2,000 to 3,500 tools at any given time.
Product quality is ensured through the use of inspection equipment including a 3-D optical machine used to analyze surface edge quality, a Helicheck dynamic cutting tool measurement gauge and three Euro-Tech PG-1000 inspection machines that give the company the ability to inspect tools at up to 260 times their actual size. Quality is also emphasized in Fullerton Tool’s formal corrective and preventative action system.
The company’s emphasis on quality and continuous improvement means all employees are given the skills and training they need to do the best job possible. The company has an apprenticeship program to bring along new employees, as well as continuous education. Staff members are also offered tuition reimbursement for successful completion of courses related to the business.
“Our employees care about what they do, and we encourage them to understand what our customers are doing, and how our customers implement our products,” Curry says.
Fullerton Tool’s efforts to produce the best possible tools are also aided by its work with suppliers including Swiss-Tek Coating Inc. Swiss-Tek coatings are used on a number of Fullerton’s products that require tight tolerances, Curry notes.
Curry considers all of the company’s vendors to be important partners. “If they weren’t part of the team, I don’t think we would be a successful company. We know we can count on all of our suppliers,” he adds.
The company’s ability to establish close relationships with customers, employees and vendors stems from its long history of family ownership. Fullerton Tool marks its 70th anniversary this year.
Patrick Curry’s grandfather Morgan A. Curry entered the tool-cutting industry after growing up as a farmer and also working in the insurance business. Curry organized the Research Tool Co. – which also manufactured under the names Perma Cut and Wolverine Cutter – in 1942. The company’s first major client was the U.S. government, which was involved in defense-related manufacturing during World War II.
Morgan A. Curry formally incorporated Fullerton Tool in Detroit in 1947, moving into its current home in 1957. Curry’s belief in family values was handed down to his sons, Richard Curry and Morgan L. Curry – Patrick Curry’s father and uncle, respectively – who assumed ownership following his passing in the mid-1970s. These family values, as well as the company’s core values of people, principles, passion and productivity, all add up to create a family oriented atmosphere that Patrick Curry credits for its success.
“We have really good people who care about the customer, the service we provide them and the product we provide,” Curry says. mt