The Next Global Leader in Solid Carbide Round Tools

Fullerton Tool Company

Solving tooling challenges correctly takes years of experience – something Fullerton Tool Company has plenty of. This is a company that prides itself on its people and their dedication to understanding, meeting and exceeding clients’ needs.

It has been an incredibly busy two years for the team at Fullerton Tool Company. The tool giant’s presence has strengthened in South America, Mexico, and Canada, while its domestic market has proven very profitable. It has also outstandingly in Britain and Ireland.

Based in Saginaw, Michigan, the company’s solid carbide round tools are especially popular in the aerospace and medical arenas due to their accuracy, strength, and longevity.

Carbide is a carbon-based alloy that can vary in content, comprising strong metals like titanium or tantalum. The alloy is machined into tool components that are strengthened with added layers of titanium.

The durability and strength achieved in this way make these tools great for extreme cutting, drilling, and tooling. And, to ensure that its customers’ teams understand the value, ability, and preservation of these tools, the company offers in-depth training as well as support in mastering the Mastercam Dynamic Motion licensed technology that drives the equipment. The software significantly enhances the tools’ capabilities and can reduce machine time by over 70 percent.

Nearly 80 years of quality
This family business, which spans three generations, opened its doors in 1942 when Morgan Arthur Curry established the company with a strong desire for excellence and an even stronger determination.

Clutching the Bachelor of Arts degree he earned at the University of Michigan in 1932 – and resolved never to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a farmer – Morgan A. Curry began fabricating tools for military use during the war.

Now, after nearly 80 years of manufacturing solid-carbide round tools, the company is close to reaching the very peak of the American market. Its success is partly ascribed to the company attitude that people are the most important factor in a business, and that lasting relationships with clients are taken seriously.

Into new fields
But, as well-versed as its team of 180 employees is in soft skills, it is not an outfit known for kidding around. Fullerton uses powerful management tools like fast response manufacturing (FRM) and Six Sigma to ensure lean manufacturing practice, optimum safety, and class-leading waste and process management.

With close on eight decades’ experience, the company’s market-savvy approach to its industry has enabled it to expand ever further into new fields.

The opportunity for its most recent expansion arose while the team was considering the best way to establish regional service centers. It struck gold on the West Coast while studying possible areas where partnerships or acquisitions could prove beneficial. Fullerton Tool Company acquired Carbro Corporation of Lawndale, California, in 2019, with the news hitting headlines in January this year.

The original draw-card was Carbro’s aerospace tooling capabilities. Today, Carbro is proving to be a great cultural fit. “It has a very talented workforce and craftsmen – it’s a family company run by the second generation,” says Patrick Curry, grandson of Morgan A. Curry, and President of Fullerton since 2008.

As well as bringing a wider aerospace network, the acquisition will enable Fullerton to offer shorter lead times as quicker turnarounds are now possible.

While Carbro Corporation, a fellow carbide tool cutting leader with 50 years of experience, will continue fabricating under its own name as an independent operator, the new merger is set to help Fullerton Tool Company significantly expand its product range. Threaded-shank tooling is just one of the new capabilities on Fullerton’s table, thanks to its new partner.

Growing capabilities
Fullerton also introduced a new research and development department in 2019. The result is an array of brand new, high-speed equipment and improved troubleshooting capabilities.

To achieve the desired level of sophistication, the company collaborated with Makino and FST, both leaders in the machining field, as well as Jergens Workholding, who is supplying the company with powerful heavy-duty vises, mainly to hold parts securely during machining processes.

And there is more. Bilz Tool furnished the company with a shrink-fit holder used to hold in place the tools of high-speed milling machines. “It’s a phenomenal [piece of] equipment. The nice thing about it is that we are able to test and develop tooling for new technology,” says Curry.

Another source of satisfaction for the team is its ability to really assist clients in finding ways of improving their times on repetitive tasks or cycle time by using Fullerton machines.

“It’s great to be able to prove cycle times on our machines instead of disrupting [the client’s] day-to-day production – and to then bring them the detailed solution that improves their bottom line,” Curry adds. Alongside the new machine installations, research and development manager, Devon Function, is introducing clients to all the company’s new capabilities.

Fullerton Tool Company has also appointed a new product developer, Steve Oszust, who leads a development team in the quest to create new milling machinery for niche metals like titanium. In addition to all these developments, the company offers training to clients, once every term, in how best to utilize its tools.

Encouraging innovation
Not resting on its laurels, Fullerton set up an innovation team in the Fall of 2019. This group is tasked with researching the possibilities that 4.0 technology brings to new and existing applications by implementing the use of big data, cobots (or collaborative robots), 3D printing, and other new applications that can assist in making the company more efficient, and generate savings for clients.

Its website is the company’s next point of investment with its web presence being significantly spruced up and developed for maximum ease of use. “We’ve added online ordering and a few other tools to our website to make it easy to do business with Fullerton,” Curry says. The company sees it as a duty as a loyal partner to its customers.

A small subsidiary of Fullerton, Endurance Carbide in Bridgeport Charter Township, Michigan, has also done particularly well over the past year. Its 22 team members have unleashed their innovative spirit and talent this year with high-end inspection equipment, punches, dies, gauges, and other specialty parts doing especially well. “We’re very blessed to have really good people,” says Curry.

Receiving – and giving back
With great quality and solid relationships come great achievements. And, thanks to its tremendous customer focus, the company has received its share of accolades. It has won two American Eagle Awards for saving its customers a significant amount of money. It was also honored to receive two Stellar Star Supplier awards over two consecutive years from 2018.

While Fullerton Tool Company specializes in turning an entire range of the hardest metals into next-generation tools, this firm’s heart is a bit softer. The company’s quiet generosity touches the lives of many as it tries to spread benefits to as wide a range of causes as possible.

Recipients are chosen by the stewardship fund where team members gather to select groups for the company to support. These include Toys for Tots, City Rescue Mission, Child & Family Services, Underground Railroad, Bridge the Gap, Power of Dad, and others. The company also collaborates with Delta College and has employed nine student graduates of the tooling training program that forms part of the institution’s fast track program.

Laying out the future
The company’s future is laid out with great care, and the main focus is on growth and innovation.

Fullerton Tool Company’s commitment is to increase its global footprint by introducing increasingly advanced tooling that will contribute to its customers’ manufacturing success, even internationally. Its first big commitment of the current year is a brand new partnership with a German firm, Inova Tools, that will enhance its product portfolio with the addition of mold, die and other niche tooling like deep hole drills.

“Our partnership with Inova Tools will [enable us to] almost double the solutions that we offer our customers. We’re pretty excited about that,” Curry says. Considering Inova Tools’ 30 years’ experience in carbide-tool machining, this partnership can only mean more capability and expansion for Fullerton.

It also means that the company’s goal of becoming the global leader in solid carbide round tools is finally within reach. We look forward to following this dedicated team’s journey to the top.

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August 15, 2020, 8:02 AM EDT