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Well-laid foundation key to Drake Tool & Design success
What do you get when you have four talented tool makers, the desire for success, and the reality of a down-turned economy? The perfect combination for a new business startup.
According to the National Federation of Independent Business, the majority of new business ideas are generated from the experience one gets from a previous position. In 2003, Scott Barwick and his coworkers Bruce Bartos, Shane McIntyre and Emil Stichka were experiencing the daily grind of working for a business that was very dependent on workload. The writing was on the wall and the reality of losing a job due to shutdown was apparent.
Tired of being at the mercy of someone else’s leadership, the four decided to become the captains of their own ship and forge ahead with Drake Tool and Design, a tool and die shop in Hastings, Nebraska, that specializes in design and building plastic injection molds.
They had the talent and the skill, as well as the desire to work hard and create a successful business, but they lacked the “know how” to get it started— and more importantly, the funding to turn their gumption into an operational business. In November of that year, the notion to start the business became a requirement as the business they worked for announced they were shutting their doors.
Barwick decided to tap into the resources in his own community by contacting the Hastings Economic Development office to find out how they might be able to help the four entrepreneurs with this endeavor. With the expertise and help of this office, he was asked to prepare a business plan so the banks could understand how the business would make money and what the goals were for the owners. He was directed for help from the Central Community College’s Small Business Institute and SCORE for assistance with the development of his business plan.
They then contacted a few banks in Hastings to go over their business plan and experience to get the financing needed to make their dream a reality. Within the week, banker Dean Moors was able to guarantee the financing needed to get Drake Tool and Design started.
It was clear to the lenders and community partners that this group of men had a plan which included a service backed with skill and technical expertise that could become a viable business. With this support, Drake Tool and Design came to be. The business obtained the financing needed and used that as motivation to push themselves toward success and forging good business relationships with customers. They started in a 2,400-square-foot facility on Highway 6 with a few machines.
As the Operational Leader for the company, Barwick knew he would have to get creative and reach beyond the borders of Nebraska to drum up new business. He became what he describes as the YES man.
“Can you be at a meeting in Nashville tomorrow?” – YES. “Can we re-engineer our existing mold to include this enhancement?” – YES. “Can you do this job and have it done in half the time?” – YES. It was this fearless confidence and belief in his partners and their new business that allowed Drake Tool and Design to land many national contracts.
Although it required sacrifice and many work hours, it was worth the extra effort. In 2011, Drake Tool and Design built a new 7,200-square-foot facility in the north industrial area of Hastings. Soon after they purchased a Haas HC 1600 YZT 4 Axis Horizontal Milling Center, one of the few operational machines of its kind and capability in the Midwest. The team knew this was a big expenditure, but one worth taking as it would bring in work that was exclusive to this machine and what Drake Tool and Design can do with it. The return on investment would be faster and at a higher rate with this equipment.
Decisions like this are a regular exercise for Barwick and his partners as they have become proficient at running a business and developing best practices for success. He has taken his experience and helped others as they start businesses and seek advice from experienced entrepreneurs. In 2013, Central Community College named Drake Tool and Design as their Outstanding Entrepreneur. The Hastings Economic Development Corporation has invited Scott to interview and share his story with others.
Barwick’s advice to aspiring business owners, “Just do it. Be passionate about what you want to do, know your trade, and develop a plan. Reach out and trust the experts to help you. Share your dream with others and you will be surprised by how many stakeholders in the community want to see you succeed.”
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