About 17 years after starting his operation in his garage, James Richmond's firm is going to make its first NPE appearance as it shows off its newest grinder.
Midwest Knife Grinding Inc.'s 10-foot-by-10-foot booth at McCormick Place in Chicago will include the Walter computer numerically controlled grinder it acquired for an undisclosed price earlier this year.
Richmond, the owner of Midwest Knife, said he had considered expanding the 6,000-square-foot operation in Canal Fulton, but decided to add the machine instead.
The CNC grinder is one of 17 grinding machines at the 10-employee company, which also owns two milling machines.
Another four grinding machines are in storage, he said.
``We basically started off in my garage, fabricating and machining,'' Richmond said during an interview at his plant.
``We fell into the granulator business. I like looking down and seeing a shiny piece of steel when I'm all done.''
The addition of the CNC machine is the latest in a series of expansions for the company. It has added 4,500 square feet since it began operations in Canal Fulton and has added three Reform grinders during the past six years.
``We've never had a flat year,'' he said. ``We've grown every year since our inception.'' He said sales were up 8 percent last year, but he declined to give more specific figures.
He said Midwest Knife began manually grinding pellet rotor heads in 1993. ``In order to work on the new rotor heads, we needed new equipment.''
Richmond credits his firm's ability to expand despite tough times to its honesty with customers, precise grind jobs and simple hard work. ``I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty,'' he said.
Serving more than 1,500 customers such as Michael Day Enterprises of Wadsworth, Ohio, General Motors Corp., and Little Tikes Co., Midwest Knife performs a range of services including metal cutting and resharpening, and offers a variety of knives.