Kris Tyler Builds KPT Precision with Teamwork and DN Solutions America
Many of our customers are the second or third generation of machining families. You might say that the business is in their blood. That’s certainly the case with Kristofer Tyler, President of KPT Precision, located in Rexdale, Ontario, Canada. He started working in his dad’s machine shop when he was sixteen years old. Operating conventional equipment (manual mills, lathes and surface grinders) after school gave him a thorough grounding in all aspects of machining before he moved on to CNC and programming. He rounded out his education by receiving a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Sheridan College in Ontario.
After his dad sold the business, Kris worked for the new owner for a while, getting a feel for all the departments and gaining experience in running the business from the front office. As he got a feel for it all, he thought about the kind of shop he’d want to run if he had the chance. It would be one that paid people what they’re worth, focused on continuous improvement and recognized that a good idea can come from anywhere.
Then, In January of 2007, he made the move. He bought four DN's (PUMA 240MSB, Lynx 220LC, DMV 4020 & DMV 3016) and opened KPT Precision. Kris has purchased new equipment from the beginning, so he’s assured of the latest technology. “I’m very careful to be fiscally responsible, but I feel comfortable financing if it makes sense after carefully crunching the numbers. The excellent price points on the DN equipment were a big factor in my decision.”
Why DN Solutions?
His dad had quite a few DN lathes and mills on the floor and Kris was comfortable with the control and machines. “He bought his equipment from Ferro Technique, our local DN Solutions distributor,” Kris said. “They helped me get started in 2007, so there’s a lot of history. They install equipment promptly, leveling it out, loading up the parameters and providing all the training you need. If I have a problem, they can give us a fix over the phone or they can send a technician right out. The machines are priced super competitively and give you the best bang for your buck.”
We certainly won’t argue about the build quality and price competitiveness of DN machines, but it should be noted that Kris is the kind of shop owner who makes the machines look even better. He places an emphasis on regular preventive maintenance, station and shop cleanliness, and the continuous improvement and high quality that comes with AS9100 certification. All four of the original machines he bought in 2007 are still going strong.
The Shop Today
At present, KPT Precision has 15 DN's and 22 people working on the shop floor. Kris gave us a quick rundown of recent acquisitions.
“We just bought the DVF 5000, the new 5-axis machine. We recently did a part where we utilized the full 5-axis capability. It was an impeller shape, so that was interesting to see. That alone made the machine one of my current favorites.
“An NHP 4000 took a spot on the line last year. We never had a horizontal before, so I thought it’d be the perfect piece of equipment for the lineup. The twin PUMA TT1800 is coming in now and I can’t wait to work on it. It’s always nice to see the machine when it’s fully moving, both spindles and turrets going.”
Kris enjoys getting to know each new machine personally. “As an owner, you need to be a machinist,” he said. “I can set up every machine and run every job, and I always go out there and check out the latest piece of equipment.”
The DN Solutions lineup is helping bring in the business. “We’re starting to get into a lot of the big, heavy work now,” Kris said. “The NHP 4000 and the DNM 750 work with parts that are so massive, we have to lift them with magnets and forklifts.
Developing and Retaining Talent
Along with buying good equipment, Kris has learned the value of a good team. “You might have the best machines in the world, but you need leadership and the right people in place to succeed,” he said. One of the company’s main sources of management talent is right on the shop floor. “A lot of our junior machinists have become managers in the last five years.”
Kris is involved with the Co-Op program with George Brown College and brings the students in for training on the shop floor. “If I see their eyes light up with excitement, that’s a good sign,” he said. “I’m looking for fresh minds, a great attitude and a willingness to learn and be taught.” Five machinists on the KPT floor today started their professional careers in this way.
The students get to experience a good, clean, organized shop. A nice building, high ceilings, plenty of natural light and mist eliminators on all the equipment help with recruitment efforts as well.
The company holds a lunch on the last Thursday of the month to go over any issues which might have occurred over the month, any NCRs, areas of improvement and where the company is going. “I always ask for ideas because everyone’s input is important,” Kris said.
Other Lessons Kris Has Learned
- “Diversify your business. If you have too many eggs in one basket, your business can fall due to unforeseen challenges such as the recent pandemic and supply chain issues,” he said. “I try to have at least 20 customers in all types of industries. We were still pretty busy even during COVID.”
- “Get AS9100 and/or ISO 9001 2015 certified. Sure, it’s a lot of work for small shops to be certified, but you do it not just to gain work, but to improve the business. We use what we learn through the process to benefit employees and our operations.”
- “Be encouraging and treat people with respect. There’s no need to scream at your team. If someone scraps a part, find out why and help them learn from the mistake.”
- “Give people a path forward. Cross-train operators on lathes and mills. Mix it up so they can get a feel for different machines. Keep an eye out for potential management candidates.”
- “Make preventive maintenance a habit. We take good care of the equipment, so we don’t have to put much service into it. I’ve never done any type of heavy build repair. In fact, the original four machines I bought when I stared the business are still running, with tolerance within tenths.”
The Future of KPT Precision
Kris’s plan is to keep building the customer base, keep expanding the square footage, and have the entire building filled with DN's. “I love the brand and there’s no one who can really change my mind,” he said. “I already have my eye on a PUMA SMX for my next purchase.”
Kris is a DN Solutions Guy through and through, and he’s the kind of shop owner that makes us exceedingly proud to be his first choice. Whether you’re planning on adding your 15th machine or your first, we’re here to make it happen. Talk to us today about your upcoming projects and your vision for the future.