PIKETON — Machinery hums and whirs in the background at MAKO Finished Products, a home-grown manufacturing company located near the Scioto County Fairgrounds in Lucasville. Just four years ago, the company was processing its first automotive part that was being supplied by overseas companies. After bringing this work back to the local community, the company has tripled its workforce and more than doubled its floor space.
Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth (FBP) helped MAKO get its start through an Opportunity Fund Grant from FBP’s Steering Group. FBP is the primary cleanup contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy’s former uranium enrichment facilities at the Portsmouth Site in Piketon.
With three lathes, three vertical mills and a team of quality assurance inspectors and room to grow, MAKO fills the gap between manufacturing and assembly. Larry O’Dell is one of three partners navigating the seemingly limitless waters of the manufacturing sector by finding ways to corner the market through customer service and high-quality control standards.
“Little did we know back then where we’d wind up. We like our progress that we’ve made, which has kind of been in baby steps,” O’Dell says.
“We’ve had a chance to go wide open, but we’ve taken the slow-but-sure method, and we don’t have a lot of debt. Those three machines that you guys helped us buy [in 2014] are paid for as of this past October, and they’re still going strong.”
Representatives from FBP and the Joint Economic Development Initiative of Southern Ohio (JEDISO) recently visited MAKO at its new facility. They saw how FBP Community Commitment dollars have helped the company expand and create local jobs.
“MAKO’s success is certainly a testament to their hard work in a difficult economy,” says Tim Poe, FBP’s director of Nuclear Operations. “We are proud to be part of this achievement through FBP’s Opportunity Fund. Creating jobs and helping local businesses grow is exactly what FBP envisioned for this program. We look forward to seeing what MAKO will be doing next in Scioto County.”
Most of MAKO’s business comes from Portsmouth’s OSCO Industries, where they specialize in manufacturing gray cast iron. MAKO steps in for the finishing process. Using various Haas Automation CNC (computer numerically controlled) machines, the company makes the final cuts, smoothing edges and sorting through parts with precision. Part 9834 marked the beginning of this enterprise.
“This first part [the 9834], we brought back from Asia. It was being made overseas. I think they (OSCO) still dual source this, but we’ve got half of their required needs. I think it’s slowing down, but we’re going to get all the orders for this part,” O’Dell says.
O’Dell says the decision to create MAKO was based on the desire to start a new company that wasn’t already in the area. The closest competitor is in Dayton.
“[Our decision] was really easy — these three machines, this one part. Will the one part pay for our operators and our machine payment? It would and it would make us a little bit of money, so it was kind of a no-brainer — if you wanted to do it, we said, now’s the time,” O’Dell says.
If any of the parts have casting defects, MAKO can tell the client exactly where the problem lies, allowing the client to identify and correct manufacturing deficiencies.
“Some of the defects are very obvious, some of them are not. Usually, it’s a machining defect,” O’Dell says.
“What we do is — and this is a service we provide for OSCO that I don’t think they get elsewhere — these parts have a number, and the impression number indicates where it sets on the mold. We send a scrap report to OSCO daily, and sometimes they’ll have something that shows up one after another. We can tell them where it’s at on their mold so they can zero right in on that.”
Any defective parts are melted down and recast into new ones.
Jim Morgan is the vice chairman and facilitator for FBP’s Steering Group that oversees the administration of the Community Commitment Program through the JEDISO group.
“[MAKO] filled a void of something that has tremendous value added to OSCO locally,” Morgan says, “so you became the right answer for addressing OSCO’s need.”
In addition to the machining side of the business, MAKO has a contract with Freudenberg NOK, of Troy, Ohio, to provide quality assurance inspections for automotive parts. Freudenberg ships boxes of customer returns (sealing rings) to O’Dell’s inspection team.
“[Freudenberg] needed people. They had the machines, the product, so they needed people to do it and we said, ‘We got it’,” O’Dell says.
Four of MAKO’s employees are dedicated to finding defective parts for Freudenberg. When their inspections are completed, the good parts are shipped back to Freudenberg for resale.
Last summer, MAKO moved into a portion of the former M&J Welding site in the Balzer Industrial Park purchased by the Scioto County Career Technical Center. Students going to school at the training center next door learn how to use some of the same equipment used at MAKO.
In addition to other accomplishments, MAKO is ISO-certified. This means that a management system, manufacturing process, service or documentation procedure has all the requirements for standardization and meeting specific quality assurance requirements.
O’Dell and at least one of his partners in the company used to work for OSCO Industries. In addition to spending more than a decade working there, O’Dell also worked at the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon for four years as an instrumentation planner.