Cummings Production Machining: Providing Finishing Touches on Machined Components

On June 1, 2009, the TD & M Company and its assets were purchased by David Cummings, who relaunched the company as Cummings Holdings, LLC, dba Cummings Production Machining (CPM). “Our service is providing production machining for manufacturing companies. Our core includes a wide variety of different machining work,” explains Jerry Kinkopf, CPM sales manager. Headquartered in New Haven, Ind., CPM has about 40 employees with Cummings at the helm. With the support of its employees, CPM avoids focusing on one specific area of specialty. “We try to diversify; we do a fairly large amount of work in heavy truck and automotive, plus some work in construction equipment, farm machinery and motors,” Kinkopf explains. Success is in the Attitude Acquiring a company in the midst of a recession has not been easy, but with Cummings’ guidance the company has continued forging onwards. The firm has shown that overcoming challenges from the economy is possible with a certain approach. “The first thing [you need] is a positive attitude; we’re not a huge firm, but we don’t need $60 million to keep the beast fed. You just have to have a positive attitude and say, ‘I’m going to go look for new business,’” Kinkopf states. “There’s a lot of change in the marketplace due to the economy. Unfortunately, some companies have gone bankrupt or downsized and that affects a number of different companies in the marketplace. But whoever was using that shop is looking for someone else. So success comes from knowing that even when the economy is tough there are opportunities opening for those that aren’t going to sit back and say, ‘There’s just no business out there.’” Beyond its determined spirit and positive attitude, CPM is successful for its business approach. “We think it’s important to get the material out on time, have a good relationship with customers, understand what they need and what they’re trying to do,” Kinkopf shares. Having customer trust means CPM becomes an indispensable link in its customers’ supply chain. “We’ll get a product in from our customer, a casting, and we’ll finish machining it and send it back to them or send it on to their next step or customer. A customer of ours will send us a wheel made in a foundry and we’ll drill it, face it, machine it, turn it, do the different processes to it and then ship it out,” Kinkopf offers as examples. Occasionally, CPM works from scratch. “There are other times when we have tier one responsibility and we’ll source and purchase the material from a forging shop or foundry in the Midwest [Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan], then we’ll process it and ship it out,” says Kinkopf. Looking for New Opportunities When shipping those completed parts out, most of them stay in the Midwest. However, “our products can end up anywhere in the country. We do farm machinery and military and it goes to a CAT plant somewhere and then it goes on from there,” Kinkopf explains. CPM is currently involved in several interesting projects. “We have one very good project, but I hesitate to give much detail because it’s military. We’re working with one of our customers that we’ve dealt with for years, and this relationship provided new opportunities for machining tank track components,” says Kinkopf. “It was a good opportunity, a fast-tracked situation, and we were able to work with engineers from this customer, developing a plan to purchase and design the forgings with our vendors, get raw material in, equipment set up, and develop fixturing and tooling.” Embarking into new specialties like tank track components requires a supportive force at CPM. That force is found through Cummings’ leadership, according to Kinkopf. “He hires good people and gives them a job and lets them run with it. He’s not a micromanager. He gives you the resources to do a job and the freedom to go out, be creative and get the job done. That’s the exciting thing as he builds the team here,” Kinkopf says. This infrastructure will create new opportunities for CPM as the economy improves. “We see it a tick on the upside. Are things booming? No. But over the last several months we’ve seen orders increasing on existing items , plus the production schedule and quoting activities are picking up, so that’s a good thing. Knowing these times present opportunities and keeping a positive attitude means it’s just a matter of getting out and making contacts and meeting their needs,” says Kinkopf. This philosophy is part of CPM’s future growth plans. “We’re always looking to expand our customer base, diversify and cross a wide variety of market segments. This is our main goal. We are very positive for the future, looking to build a good strong team of people who are capable, have great attitudes and can meet the need of our customers,” Kinkopf shares. CPM’s established reputation, combined with David Cummings’ proven ability to foster a supportive work environment, has established the company with an effective team for meetings its goals of building. With all factors in place, Cummings Production Machining will undoubtedly encounter many opportunities to expand its customer base and apply its skills in new business ventures.