Talented crew, diversification fuel L’Anse MFG

Posted: July 22, 2008

High production helps company weather economic downturn.

At least one local manufacturer is weathering the global economic crisis successfully – so far.  L’Anse Manufacturing has aded three new employees, bringing its 2008 work force to 14. The company is on target to expand its facilities and add more people in the next year or so.  Another new employee was set to start this week.

The company in the L’Anse Dynamite Hill industrial park was purchased from founder Jim Olsen in early  2007.  Long-time employee Buddy Sweeney teamed up with Mark Massicotte to purchase the business.  Olsen had built the company on precision-machining of a wide variety of industrial parts.  Sweeney’s an expert on fixturing and processing the parts; Massicotte has a long resume of business, engineering and cost estimating skills.  It’s been a successful partnership.

“I’m the ‘make-it’ guy and Mark’s the money guy,” Sweeney noted.

Diversification has been a motto at L’Anse MFG from the beginning, and even more so in recent years.

“We”ll continue to diversify,” Massicotte said.  “We have 23 customers and 12 primary customers.  Years ago we had seven.”

The company has invested in a growing collection of expensive computer numerically controlled (CNC) turning centers and milling machines that can machine parts large or small to very close tolerances.  L’Anse MFG machines various types of stainless steel, 8600 steel, lots of aluminum, alloys and plastics.

The crew at L’Anse MFG is used to working with tolerances even tighter that 0.001 of an inch.  A human hair is four times thicker than that.  That kind of precision has opened the doors for machining everything from tiny stainless steel medical and surgical equipment to 40 and 50-pound connectors for Manitowoc Crane booms that must be near-perfect for safety’s sake.

“We’re very fortunate to be sitting where we are,” Massicotte said.  “The work ethic of this region is unique.  We’re competing all over the world on a regular basis.  We’re beating China on price.  We beat Pakistan on process.  A German company is looking at us on components.”

“We have very good people.  If the productivity wasn’t there we couldn’t compete.  That’s a true strength of this area,” Massicotte said.  “You need quality people to work here.  You have to get that machine up and going.”

The company’s diversity of customers is seen in sample parts spread across a large table in the conference room.  There are precision-machined pistons for military drones that must fly continuously for 60 hours.  Larger aluminum pistons are helicopter and race car prototypes.  There are drive shaft yokes for NASCAR.  L’Anse MFG got that business because it could machine the rough castings more accurately than anyone else, reducing the drive shaft balancing that was needed later.

Also on the list are precision surgical instruments and medical parts in shiny stainless.  One of L’Anse MFG’s customers is Pioneer Surgical, a growing medical equipment maker in Marquette.

“They’re a very progressive company. They’re very technically sound and that allows us to do very good service,” Massicotte said.

The company machines MRI medical components for a downstate firm.  A South Range company places what are basically MRI cameras in unique billet aluminum cases machined at L”Anse MFG.  They;re destined to be used for medical scans in China.

“We anticipate the medical device business will have sustained growth.  We have a part-time rep in New York who has a history in medical device sales and a strong engineering and design background,” Massicotte said.

L’Anse MFG does some work for local manufacturers such as Pettibone and Terex.  The company also farms out work when it makes sense.  Sometimes it”s an operation that is not L’Anse MFG’s specialty, or the company may get too busy.

“We have four (subcontractors) here, one up the road and one in Escanaba that work with us,” Massicotte said.  “Where it makes sense we will continue to look.  As long as we can keep the business in the UP, I’m OK with that.”

Massicotte is often on the road drumming up new business. He’s run machines years ago, and had a lot of engineering experience, including years at Ford Motor Company- so he speaks the language.

Meanwhile Sweeney is back in the shop conquering the next machining challenge with his Manufacturing Supervisor, Al Dantes, and crew.  Dantes will be going to Milwaukee for specialized training on the new $100,000 turning center.

“We have a milling machine, but this is a turning center,” Sweeney said.  “It can allow us to do a lot of things. We have to get more into the live tooling.  Before, we had to take a part out of the turning center and put it in the milling machine.  This will allow us to turn and mill and make a complete part in one machine.”

L’Anse MFG invested $35,000 in changes in the plant to accommodate the new Haas machine.  To free up some room the company moved some operations across the street to space leased in Draper’s Great Lakes Specialized Carriers building.  So far L’Anse MFG is fulfilling its short-term plan to grow, diversity and expand.  But in this economy, it’s wise to be cautious.

“The first year (2007) went as planned and the second one did, too,” Massicotte said.  “Hopefully that will continue.”

“It’s hard to say,” Sweeney added.  “The economy could turn tomorrow.”

Meanwhile L’Anse MFG will stick to its formula for success: “Never send out a bad part, and always be on time,” Massicotte said.  “Make the customer’s life easy.  It doesn’t sound hard, but sometimes it’s not so easy.”

Drue, Barry. “Talented crew, diversification fule L’Anse MFG.” The L’Anse Sentinel 7 Jan 2009: 1,8.

LMI in the News

  • Baraga businessman gets CTE award

    Daily Mining Gazette –May 8, 2017 HANCOCK — The Copper Country Association of School Boards recently presented Mark Massicotte with the 2017 Community Leadership Award. George Stockero, Copper Country Intermediate School District (CCISD) superintendent, said Massicotte has been a strong advocate for connecting business and education in the area. “He is working to bring other […]

  • L’Anse Manufacturing Selected as Northwest Michigan PTAC Government Contractor of the Year

    L’Anse Manufacturing Selected as Northwest Michigan PTAC Government Contractor of the Year 2016 (February 2017) L’Anse Manufacturing is a precision machining company with a low volume, high mix approach and a special interest in projects with tight tolerances. Their primary markets are investment casting machining, light industrial manufacturers, and specialty products including medical, aerospace, and the […]

  • LMI hosts technical training through grant

    Written by Melissa Lehto, published by the L’Anse Sentinel Like all businesses, L’Anse Manufacturing, Inc., (LMI) wants to be competitive in the workforce. For this small-town company, being competitive means keeping your employees up to date on the newest and most current manufacturing techniques available. LMI has again submitted an application for and received a Skilled […]

Professional Web Site Design by Sandstone Digital