Tool Maker Finds Capital With SBA Assistance:
Margaret Hubbard never doubted that the company she started with her husband Robert fourteen years ago would be a success, but it was a huge gamble.
Margaret had no knowledge of the tooling and grinding business and Robert had no knowledge of how to run an office. Robert was used to overseeing workers and quoting jobs for customers, so Margaret handled the office details from logo design to the IT system to installing a phone system.
Today, the phones ring constantly and Margaret describes one of their business strengths as the ability to operate ‘seat-of-the-pants.’ Precision Tool & Grinding did $1.2 million dollars in business this year. In 2012, the company made over 100,000 different tools. Precision Tool fills the grey area between big manufacturers of industrial tools and small ones.
The company is a support facility for the aerospace industry and it also supplies many local machine shops with both custom-made tools and modified standard tools. The company’s excellence at what it does is well known, even though it never advertises, and Margaret says it is not unusual for Precision Tool to be approached by companies moving into this region that want to buy them out.
A short list of Precision Tool’s customers includes: US Tool/Goodrich, the military section of Airbus, Signal International, Alabama Service Center, BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards, GE Pensacola and Mobile Aerospace. Companies from all over the world come to them, for example, they’ve made diamond cutter syncs for a company in Brazil.
The company is a proven expert at fixing tool problems under pressure others would find impossible. It’s not unusual for someone to show up with a tool to be modified, often while they wait in the office. Once Mobile Aerospace called them to fix a broken taptool while the flight crew was sitting in the plane ready to take off. I’m a very straightforward person,’ Margaret explains. ‘If I tell my customers it will be done, it will. We strive to make a good product and to be a reliable company – that is rare nowadays.
We treat all customers alike. All our customers know us. We have never had a bounced check in 14 years.’ The company experienced a problem after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Business was off and their bank, who had loaned them money a number of times in the past was unable to help them.
The Women’s Business Center of Southern Alabama was able to help them obtain a $50,000 microloan which helped them get the business back on its feet. Margaret told the Women’s Center, ‘you and the SBA made it possible for us to turn our business around, that $50,000 loan gave us the cushion we needed after the oil spill.
Since then we’ve accumulated other savings accounts and own property that is all paid for.’ Sherman Blosser, Project Director of the Women’s Center, praises Margaret as a remarkable woman who is to be commended for her business’ success.