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State should lay foundation for business, stay out of the way

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As I often like to recount, in late 1999 my business partner, Jack Cuddihy, and I had the two qualities – naiveté and stupidity – absolutely necessary to go into a business we thought we knew a lot about. Needless to say, those qualities combined with the dot.com meltdown and the loss of our single largest customer, almost caused us to completely crash and burn and wind up as a mosquito splattered across the manufacturing windshield.

Steve Macias

Steve Macias

However, now newly infused with desperation, we managed to persist and keep Pivot Manufacturing afloat while we developed our capabilities, slowly added additional customers, and worked to expand on how we could be of service to our customer base.

Our focus has always been on the long term and growing our company. Like many things in life, if you keep looking short term, the long term eventually arrives and nothing has changed. Over the years we aged out old equipment and added high speed machining, added assembly capabilities to augment our machining, took our quality certifications to aerospace and military levels, and made sure we fairly and generously compensated the employees who were doing an excellent job in order to accomplish our long-term goals.

It was not always easy as during what Jack and I affectionately refer to as “The Dark Days,” we could go weeks and occasionally months without a paycheck. Needless to say my wife was not too thrilled about that development given that we had three little boys at home, but she too bought into the long-term plan and fortunately it seems to be working. Those three little boys are all in college or graduated now, and each one has spent some nice warm summers in high school and college working the shop floor and learning the value of hard work.

We have since grown from The Dark Days of two owners and one employee to about 20-25 very capable employees with a variety of skillsets ranging from programming to engineering to master machinist. We have a business plan in place that we believe will allow us to double our sales over the next three years and we look forward to continuing to increase our capacity and capability as we get there.

However, we can’t get there alone and we are fortunate to be in the great state of Arizona to help make it happen. Some small manufacturers can, and will, scale to enormous heights, but most are dependent on a larger OEM (original equipment manufacturer) customer base for their growth, as is the case with Pivot Manufacturing.

We work with defense contractors and manufacturers like Raytheon, General Dynamics, BAE, Northrop, and Boeing to name a few, and they are experiencing growth at a federal level, but they are growing at the local level because our state government has made it economically attractive for them to direct their national growth to Arizona.

During his five years in office, Gov. Doug Ducey has changed the perception of Arizona and structurally altered our economic landscape. Through actively working to cut bureaucracy and regulation for small and large businesses alike, national manufacturing companies like Raytheon, Boeing, SubZero, Benchmark and others are moving and/or expanding their operations in Arizona, and I can tell you from years of experience, nothing can help a small business grow like dumping new customers on their front lawn!

Moving forward, I would highly encourage the state to keep on the path of laying down a clean foundation for business and then getting out of the way. The ecosystem of small and medium manufacturers has reached a point where it can be used as a selling point to attract additional OEMs and keeping the cycle going and growing, and fortunately the state already has a mechanism in place to help develop that manufacturing ecosystem.

The Arizona Commerce Authority has a great program contained in the Arizona Manufacturing Extension Partnership that helps small and medium sized manufacturers develop skillsets from everything to managing employees and improving sales skills to leaning up processes on the production floor. Pivot has utilized the AZ MEP expertise on multiple fronts and they are an invaluable resource that can help manufacturers grow and get to the next level of capability and capacity.

We look forward to many more years of growth in this great state and are honored to be part of the manufacturing industry.

— Steve Macias is co-owner, CEO and president of Pivot Manufacturing.

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