In 1998, three employees departing from the same company - Dan Burns, Les Malovics, and Jim Ozminkowski – faced a critical decision point in their career paths. They could either go their separate ways, or they could throw their lots in together and try their luck as a new business. They considered, discussed, and then took the path less traveled by borrowing for start-up costs and putting everything on the line Centerless Technology, Inc. was born.
Now in its 19th year, their centerless- and cylindrical- grinding finishing business has delivered the kind of success that proves their decision was the right one. Their base of six employees has grown to 23; the number of machines on the floor quintupled, from an initial four to the current twenty-one; and floor space itself has gown, expanding from Centerless Technology’s first 5,000 square feet of rented space to an 11,000 square-foot facility the business now owns.
“We’ve established ourselves as a premier grinder in the Rochester, NY area,” says owner Dan Burns. “When we started, each of us brought unique skills to the business. Jim Ozminkowski is a CPA who excels at running our front office and at sales. Les has decades of experience in centerless grinding, as well as great skills in managing people and in problem solving for customers. I’ve also done grinding for 20 years, and I have a background in engineering and machine rebuilding. We complement one another.”
With Jim handling the office management aspects of the business, Les and Dan are free to devote much of their time working with employees on the shop floor. “We have a good team, with a family feel,” Burns says. “Twenty-three people is still a manageable number, so we’re close. A number of employees have a small financial stake in the company, so there are direct rewards for high-quality work.”
High quality is what Centerless Technology is all about. “Quality sets up apart,” says Burns. “We have one customer who’s just passed the 1.5 million parts mark, with no parts rejected to date. And we turn jobs around quickly. If a customer really needs a next-day emergency turnaround, we can do it.”
Because Centerless Technology also buys the bar stock needed by customers, they’re often both the first and the last one to touch a part. Most manufacturers don’t have in-house centerless or cylindrical grinding capabilities, which has helped make Centerless Technology a mission-critical partner to its 270 customers.
“We provide super-finishing,” Burns says, explaining the added value the company provides. “The process is unique, and we’re the only ones in the Rochester area who offer it. Tolerances are tighter, and you get close to a mirror finish as a result, a beautiful result.” Super-finishing allows parts to be polished to less than a 1 Ra surface finish. For daily bar and part grinding, Centerless holds tolerances with an impressive .0002 inches.
Now that Centerless has acquired its own 3-acre lot and facilities, continued growth and expansion are on the minds of the three partners. “We have more cylindrical grinding in our future, of course,” Burns says. “It might be necessary for us to construct a new building with more equipment. We’re already bursting at the seams in our new facility…2016 was a record year for us. Centerless and cylindrical grinding are tough skills to master, so our customers will continue to count on us into the foreseeable future.”