Since early 2018, Estes Express Prototyping has been working in close collaboration with Florence Corporation, a mailbox supplier. Recently, our team interviewed Mike Molt, Florence’s Design Engineering Manager, to learn more about its experience working with Estes. Below are our findings from the interview.
Florence Corporation Benefits from Estes’ Cutting Edge Technology and Fast Service
1. Where do you look to find sheet metal prototyping shops?
Over the last 15 years, I’ve been all over the place finding shops for sheet metal prototyping needs. In the beginning, we used our own manufacturing equipment to create the parts we needed. After 2-3 years, we realized it was easier to buy parts from places like Estes.
2. What differentiated Estes from competing prototyping companies during your company’s selection process?
One of the first things that stands out is that Estes is the first supplier with the ability to use my CAD (computer-aided design) models. Typically, the process involves both creating a model and creating a drawing. With Estes, you skip a step (and time) because there is no need to create a detailed drawing. For me, this saves a week or two weeks for some projects, which is incredibly valuable time.
In addition to the time saved by the ability to use my CAD models, Estes is straight-up fast. They’re the fastest [supplier] I’ve ever dealt with. There are lots of sheet metal guys out there, but most of the time they just have a laser and a brake press. There are times that you need more sophisticated parts, and Estes has all of the technology for sheet metal prototypes.
While most steel fabrication and prototyping operates under long lead-time (four weeks is typical), Estes can turn parts around in two to three weeks. In addition, Estes’ parts are of the highest quality. As any company occasionally does, Estes has made mistakes; however, the thing that sets Estes apart from others in this sense is that anything and everything is done to make it right (much of which is thanks to Matt). In one instance, Matt created a new part and had it delivered the next day (on a Saturday).
3. How would you describe the interaction that your company has had with Estes?
I’m located in Kansas, so much of the business that is done with Estes is done through email. In terms of the interaction though, it is always positive! Estes is very straightforward and is determined to have a positive impact on the customer. When I’ve has approached our contact, Matt, with design issues, he has always provided me the necessary feedback that helps in determining manufacturability.
4. How would you rate the overall experience with Estes on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1 being poor and 5 being excellent)? Why?
For me, Estes is hands down a 5 out of 5 for a multitude of reasons. This includes but is not limited to: capability, speed, and customer service. I don’t mind paying a bit of a premium given the company’s speed and the overall accuracy, as there is usually a trade-off of these factors in order to get everything at the lowest cost.
5. Has Estes’s work helped your organization, and if so, how?
Most of it would be the speed. Our engineering team gets pushed, and they’re always being asked to cut timelines in half. Getting the parts faster through our relationship with Estes has been key. It really helps us on the development side.