Issue Jan Feb 14
In its more than 45 years in business, Rota Skipper has demonstrated an ability to continuously evolve. The company has been machining parts since its earliest days, and today Rota Skipper is a fully integrated machining, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and UL-certified panel shop. The company can serve clients whether they are in need of only one of its services or if they need a complete system designed, manufactured, programmed and assembled.
“We are a multifaceted company because we have our own mechanical and electrical engineering capabilities along with a full machine shop,” CEO Clifford Fitch III says. “We can do just mechanical, electrical, repair work or contract machining, but we can do so much more and build a complete system.”
One of Rota Skipper’s main claims to fame is its Pizzamatic Corp. division. For more than 30 years, Pizzamatic has designed and manufactured fully integrated pizza-topping lines and has been serving the food processing equipment needs of many customers. Its pizza topping and processing machinery is used on production floors around the world.
“Because we have our own product line for the foodservice industry and our vast capabilities, we have done work for clients throughout the U.S. and in other countries,” Fitch says. “The heaviest concentration of our work takes place in the Midwest in the Chicagoland area, Wisconsin and Indiana.”
In its machine shop, Rota Skipper has everything from manual machines to state-of-the-art CNC machining. Its CNC machining is programmed with offline CAM software, which allows Rota Skipper to use customers’ files for programming, as well as DWG files and most solid model files. The company can machine parts whether small or large, and it has 4th axis rotary table capabilities. The company understands how to machine a vast array of materials while maintaining tight tolerances.
As for its mechanical engineering department, it uses SolidWorks CAD software for the design process. Rota Skipper can develop anything from a single part to a complete system that involves numerous parts.
Rota Skipper’s electrical engineering department has deep knowledge of PLC programming and Allen Bradley products. It can integrate PLCs with vision systems, servos and VFDs in order to network small to large systems together.
Within its UL-certified panel shop, Rota Skipper can build small to large panels that are neatly constructed and well labeled. The panels can be built onto a subpanel or fully wired into an enclosure box. The panels are shipped with a complete set of schematics documenting the entire panel.
“We started as an engineering firm, but we saw that we needed our own machining capabilities so we could control our own destiny,” Fitch says. “We use CAD software for engineering and CAM for CNC machining because we think it allows us to be more efficient in engineering and enhances ties between engineering and machining.”
The strengths of each of Rota Skipper’s departments can be combined for clients in need of a full turnkey system. The company is comfortable whether machining single parts or designing and manufacturing complete systems.
No matter what its customers’ needs, Rota Skipper works closely with all customers to be sure that their requirements are met. Rota Skipper has a diverse customer base – its Pizzamatic background gives it a significant presence in the food industry, but its experience extends to many other industries.
“When you look at what we can do, we don’t have to be focused on one niche in a little spot,” Fitch says. “We are problem-solvers and not just focused on one industry.”
“We’ve recently been in food plants, injection molding plants, and pharmaceutical and medical device plants,” General Manager Robert Greaney adds. “That diversity makes us better problem-solvers. Because we understand mechanical design and controls, we can move between industries fairly easily.”
Communication and customer relationships are critically important to Rota Skipper. When it is developing and designing systems for customers, it takes advantage of GoToMeeting video conferencing, which allows it to visually work on designs and schematics with customers to make sure everyone is on the same page. The company’s past successes have also helped it to build a solid base of repeat business and positive word of mouth.
Rota Skipper knows it must continue to be proactive to ensure that its future is successful. The company has three interns from Purdue University working alongside its senior people. This is part of its effort to build its future talent. The company also is always investing in technology.
All of this will be critical as the company continues to ensure that its customer can see a solid ROI and recognize the value that Rota Skipper’s products and services can bring to their operations. Ever since the company first came into existence, Rota Skipper has understood the importance of listening and believed that anything is possible. That mindset is something that the company believes will never change.
“This is a third-generation family company,” Fitch says. “We will always have an eye on what is coming as we look forward to the future.”