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Peerless Precision

 

Peerless Precision president talks about manufacturing

"I would love to get more women working on the shop floor,"

 

WESTFIELD –In the mostly male world of precision manufacturing, Kristin M. Carlson and her mother, Deborah C. Maier, are growing the family business and looking for more trained workers – including trained female machinists.

“Maier Women Have Taken Over the Reins of Peerless Precision, Inc. and Business is Soaring.” More

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Outlook 2016: Westfield's Peerless Precision says aging workforce amplifies need for training

Peerless Precision manufacturing Peerless Precision president talks about manufacturing

WESTFIELD –In the mostly male world of precision manufacturing, Kristin M. Carlson and her mother, Deborah C. Maier, are growing the family business and looking for more trained workers – including trained female machinists.

 

"I would love to get more women working on the shop floor," said Carlson, president of Westfield-based Peerless Precision. "It's very empowering when you're a girl in a shop full of guys and you can hold your own."

Plus, women bring a different dimension to creativity and problem solving.

As of mid December, there was but one woman working in the shop among 19 men. "More women are coming," she projected.

 

Carlson is looking for more workers, period. In an industry in which the majority of workers are more than 50 years old with few younger than their 30s, about half of her 25 employees are older than 45.

Carlson is not only concerned with the need to replace workers when they retire; she simply needs more workers to grow the business.

 

According to Carlson, there are between 100 and 300 manufacturing job openings in machine shops throughout the Pioneer Valley that need to be filled.

 

She has turned to Westfield Technical Academy for help and has hired some of the graduates who did co-operative programs at Peerless Precision. "They come in with basic machining knowledge, and all the real (job specific) learning is done at work," Carlson said. "We hone those skills to make them the machinists we need them to be."

 

Job applicants need basic science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills, along with the drive to be the best they can be. "There are not too many people we try to make machinists who don't make it," Carlson said. "We are willing to put time into training people."

 

Located in a 20,000-square-foot building at 2 Mainline Drive, Peerless Precision currently uses about half the space and intends to expand in the future as it specializes in the manufacture of precision-machined parts for the aerospace, defense and medical devices industries.

 

Services range from prototype through production runs. The company does assemblies and project management and works with raw stock (titanium, stainless steel, aluminum, magnesium and carbides) and castings.

Clients include FLIR Systems, Eaton Aerospace, Kaman Aerospace, L-3 Unidyne, Curtiss Wright Target Rock and Picatinny Arsenal.

 

Carlson's father, the late Larry A. Maier, bought the company in 1997 at a time when it had about 15 employees. She "grew up in the shop," sweeping floors, cutting materials and helping with shipping, receiving and purchasing.

She earned an associate degree in business administration from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth and later moved to San Diego where she lived from 2005 through 2012 and worked as a purchasing agent for a fire alarm contractor.

 

When her father was diagnosed with stage-4-colon cancer, he asked her to return home and help her mother decide if she should keep Peerless Precision or sell it. "My dad always knew I was meant to do what I'm doing now," says Carlson, who is 33. "I had to come to it on her own terms."

 

The company now makes between 200 and 300 different parts. It marked a record-breaking year for sales in 2015, reaching $2.7 million. "We're on our way to $3 million for 2016," Carlson said.

Keeping the business in the family was the correct decision, according to Maier, the chief executive officer. "Kristin made it possible for us to keep going," she said.

 

Since 2012 when she became president of the company, Carlson has hired five machinists; only two came with experience but all five are still there. Carlson encourages young people who are interested in machinist careers to study at technical high schools and adults who want jobs in the machine industry to participate in training programs sponsored by regional employment boards.

 

Entry-level machinists can earn about $30,000 a year, she said. "Manufacturing is a very viable career."

Foreman Richard Collingwood has been with Peerless Precision for 15 years and likes the "good work environment." He also enjoys the variety of work he does as a machinist.

 

Carlson credits the success of the business to the "talent" of the people who work in the shop and to a good customer base. "They rely on us for critical components," she said. And, Peerless Precision relies on skilled machinists.

 

 

PEERLESS PRECISION INC., 22 MAINLINE DRIVE, WESTFIELD, MA 01085
T 413.562.2359 | F 413.562.2351 | E info@peerlessprecision.com

 

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