Past, present, future

By Lisa Rummler blends modern technology with old-fashioned service

October 2009 - When people think of their favorite sitcom from the 1950s or 1960s, several things likely come to mind: everything was in black and white, everybody smoked and no one ever uttered an expression stronger than "Gee whiz."

Another thing about television shows from this era was the technology on display--the most cutting-edge device was often a rotary phone or an electric mixer.

Things would’ve been a lot different if, for example, Wally and Beaver Cleaver could have done their homework on laptops while listening to their iPods. And Ricky Ricardo’s band would have had many more opportunities if it could have posted a music video to YouTube.

Accordingly, business owners in the 1950s and 1960s didn’t have computers, fax machines and e-commerce at their disposal. Rather, they relied on good service to succeed and stand apart from competitors.

This philosophy remains as true today as it did five or six decades ago, but it often seems as if something has been lost in the shuffle--technology is supposed to improve personal and business transactions, but it sometimes does just the opposite, according to Chris Luke, managing partner at, Houston.

"There’s an isolation between the end user and most Web companies," he says. "We try to think of ourselves as a 21st-century company with 1950s values. What we’re trying to do is create a 1950s Web site. You didn’t have the Internet, of course, in the 1950s, but industry has gotten so far away from the personal service of the 1950s and 1960s, and companies have gone so much into e-mail and such that there’s really a closed door [in many cases]."

Hybrid of decades is a marketing affiliate of Houston-based Metal Sawing Technology, which sells a wide line of blades, files and coolants for a variety of sawing applications. The company also provides after-market band saw parts. stocks and sells more than 12,000 parts. The company manufactures some of these items in Houston, and it buys others directly from the original manufacturer.

Having so many band saw parts on hand has helped and Metal Sawing Technology set themselves apart from other companies, especially in today’s economy, according to Luke.

"We basically try to manufacture large runs of important parts, which both lowers our manufacturing costs and means we have them in stock when our customers need them. Conversely, many companies in today’s environment aren’t manufacturing until they have an order," he says. "We’re going to run this business like a 1950s company. We’re going to carry [huge] amounts of inventory, and when the customer orders something, we’re pulling it and shipping it--that day."

In addition to computers, the marketing affiliate of Metal Sawing Technology uses other modern technologies, including a Stanley Vidmar racking and cabinet system, to store the thousands of parts in stock.

"Basically, we can find anything at any time and send it to a customer with a BIN number," says Luke. "We use the 21st-century technology that we have now to give service like you received in the 1950s."

Further, Luke says his personal philosophy on business and what he considers the highest priorities helped shape

"I tried to build a Web site and a Web company that I would buy from--not one that makes me the most money," he says. "Success is making a single person happy, where that customer speaks highly of you. And that’s something you can’t buy: respect."

Running the gamut
Metal Sawing Technology has thousands of parts available on, and the company tries to evaluate and add 250 new products every year.

The Web site provides replacement parts for more than 15 brands of band saws, including HE&M Inc., Pryor, Okla., and Marvel Mfg. Co. Inc., Oshkosh, Wis.

"[These saws] hold up--they’re very durable," says Luke. "But sometimes, if a wear part, such as a guide, a coolant hose or a switch, goes out, we provide the end user the replacement parts that day or the next day."

He also says carries a broad range of replacement parts for HE&M band saws because there’s a wide variety of models and a great deal of parts for each.

"With HE&M saws, it’s not our focus to remanufacture their parts," says Luke. "In many cases, we simply buy the parts from HE&M and extend part of our savings to the end user."

With replacement parts for Marvel band saws, the situation differs a bit.

"Marvel makes a good saw, but we have a lot of the parts that they may or may not stock," says Luke. "In other words, we’ll make parts for equipment that they haven’t manufactured for 30 years."

He also says the Marvel line is the most complete one offered on because Marvel saws are known for their longevity, which is a benefit for Metal Sawing Technology, "There are a lot of them out there, and they’re so good, people don’t want to get rid of them," says Luke. "Therefore, owners repair them."

And given the location of Ontario-based Hyd-Mech Group Ltd., Luke says offers an advantage to customers in the United States who need replacement parts.

"We’re putting a major effort into the Hyd-Mech saws because there are so many of them sold in the United States," he says. "They’re good saws, and they’re capable saws. People like to fix them."

For Hyd-Mech, concentrates mainly on wearable parts, such as belts, blade guides, pulleys and band wheels.

Outside perspective
One company that has a long history of using is Houston Metal Cutting, Houston. For about 10 years, the company has purchased replacement parts for its approximately 20 HE&M saws. Rich Armstrong, president and owner, says these include drive pulleys, coolant pumps and carbon guides for saws that cut a wide range of material types and dimensions.

This is key, given Houston Metal Cutting’s active involvement in the oil and gas industry, according to Armstrong.

"Inconel, 410 stainless steel, carbon steel, aluminum, chrome, nickel--basically any metal, we can cut," he says. "For band saw cutting, we cut material anywhere from 1 in. OD to 60 in. OD. We handle up to 60,000 lbs."

Additionally, Armstrong says he’s had a positive experience ordering replacement parts from over the years, which has been a particular boon as of late.

"If our saws are down, we can’t make money, and being competitive in this economy, you have to deliver fast," he says. "If a saw is down, it can bottleneck, and it can back stuff up. Chris or his guys will deliver parts to us, or we’ll get them in the mail, but [either way], we’ll get them quickly. That really helps out." FFJ


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