Manufacturing Today - May/June 2017 - 128
Eastman Machine Co.
is increasingly becoming the norm.
Mom-and-pop shops are still using
handheld [cutting machines], but as
they grow they start to look at automated machines."
Coming full circle, Stevenson predicts the threat to its sales will come
from low-cost, cheaply made automated cutting machines from Asia.
"They copied our manual machines
and are now making their own automated machines at a fraction of the
cost," he adds. "But their machines
are not good quality. We have very
high-quality machines that last 15 to
20 plus years - most companies expect their capital equipment to last
eight to 10 years."
eastman is known for its
products' long lifespans, as
well as its focus on service.
In the 1990s, Eastman's sales eroded
because of an influx in cutting machines from Asia.
"They made their machines look
exactly like ours and some called
them 'The Westman,'" Stevenson
says. "They thought no one would
tell the difference and you couldn't
until you started running it."
To counter the growing competition, Eastman acquired North Technology Systems in 1995 from the
North Sails Group, the world's largest
sail maker. This further differentiated
its services and allowed it to expand
into new industries, such as the composite and industrial fabric markets.
manufacturing-today.com MAY/JUNE 2017
Acquiring North Technology Systems
gave Eastman access to its computer-controlled cutting machines that
automated the process and allowed
for cutting all kinds of material.
By 2004, Eastman had expanded its
operations to China by opening a factory in Ningbo, China, which provides
it the support and capacity it needs to
supply the world with its products.
China and the Pacific Rim have become important markets for all Eastman products.
Today, Eastman says the biggest
market change is automation. "For
our industry, automation is relatively new," Stevenson says. "Automated cutting started in the 1960s and it
"everyone knows how
the products are supposed to be, look and
act. we have all these
eyes who will say
something's not right,
which helps produce
that eastman quality
In addition to its machines' long
lifespans, Eastman prides itself on its
service. "Dedication to service is paramount for the automated industry;
it's the heart and soul," Stevenson
says. "If a large piece of capital equipment goes down, the production line
is shut down for an extended period
of time unless you have a good service
team to fix it."
Breaking the Mold
Eastman customizes and builds to
order every machine for all its customers, which the company says also
differentiates it in the industry. Stevenson says, "Our flexibility and will-