Up and running for more than four decades, it’s safe to say that the Atscott Manufacturing Company has perfected a tried-and-true recipe for success.  Owner John Norris purchased the Pine City, Minn., business in 1978 and has implemented technologies that have helped him remain competitive through the years.

“Our two core competencies are the assembly of products and machining,” Norris said, adding that roughly 60% of the company’s labor is devoted to machining, while 60% of its sales are devoted to assembled products. “Of course, those assemblies include machined products that we then put together.”

Atscott machines both metals and plastics, and among the assembled products that the Tier One supplier manufactures are glue guns, tape dispensers, and portable towers manufactured for use by the armed forces. It performs jobs for a numerous industries, including aerospace manufacturers. Repeat customers account for about 95% of the company’s business, and about 80% of its jobs are repeat orders. Many of those jobs require the precision machining of parts with tight tolerances, and in average lot sizes of fewer than 50 pieces.

“We work with a lot of customers to develop prototypes that end up becoming assemblies, and of course all of our customers want rapid turnaround,” Norris said. “We also do some design improvement, which provides added value to our customers. We’re working with the customer to find a cost-effective way to make the products.”

Atscott has 78 workers, including nearly 50 on the shop floor, and it operates a total of 35 machine tools to accomplish manufacturing in up to four axes. Included among its machining capabilities are turning centers, and horizontal and vertical milling centers.

Beginning in 1991, to maximize its investment in machinery and manpower Atscott first subscribed to the Edgecam computer-aided-manufacturing (CAM) software, developed by Vero Software. “With each of the updates, Edgecam has really stayed ahead,” machine shop manager Joe Plasek said. “With the updates, we can do more and more — and be more efficient.” 

Norris’s choice was heavily influenced by the ongoing availability of new, educated manufacturing talent, as a nearby technical college uses Edgecam as a teaching tool for CNC programming.

“The fact that the local school teaches Edgecam had a lot to do with why we got it,” Norris said. “We knew that it would be easier to find people who already had experience with the software.”

Shop manager Plasek, who has been with Atscott for 33 years, reported his team is making parts now that could not be made a decade ago — nor did the customers request such parts.