Joe Monaco owner of Monaco Tool Company comes from a long line of entrepreneurs and as he tells it, has only worked for another company for 6 years of his life. Joe is a diesel mechanic by trade and credits his early machine shop class in high school for his burning desire and knowledge of machines and motors. He joined the army in 1959 and learned the diesel mechanic trade by fire and from the best teachers the Army had. Joe has been at it ever since! In 1981 Joe thought there must be another way to make a living besides repairing diesel engines, so he transitioned to selling precision tools for the Snap On Tool Company. During his tenure at Snap On, Joe learned a different prospective within his industry and that was the specialized tool aspect of the diesel repair business.
Joe progressed from a user to a peddler (as he calls it) of tools and later to a designer and manufacturer of precision solutions of diesel repair tools. Joe knew it was hard for a professional diesel mechanic to get precision tools for his trade and he saw a niche he could build a business model on; produce precision tools the diesel mechanic could repair the engine with right on the chassis, without taking the engine out from the frame. Joe always wanted to make miniature model train engines and he purchased an old lathe from one of his customers that he rebuilt and set off to build a model engine. Later one of his Snap On Tools customers asked him if he could help him find a special used tool for repair of a Cummins engine, a tool to time the Cummins camshaft in an engine. Joe said, “I told the customer if he wasn’t in a real hurry for the tool that I would make him one. Well, I made that tool on that little lathe I rebuilt and that sparked an interest in me. I reasoned that there had to be room for one more specialty tool manufacturer in the diesel repair industry. This was good thinking because there was only one at the time, Kent Moore. Kent Moore Company sold the service tools to most all of the industry’s diesel repair centers including Harley Davidson, General Motors, Detroit Diesel, and many more. So, I made the decision I would start my own business making tool solutions for the trade I had spent my whole life in.” Joe came home that day and shared the great news with his wife Sharon. This of course meant she would have to go to work at a job to help support Joe’s new passion and their new business. Joe got to keep his side of the double car garage for machining parts for their new tooling business and his wife kept her side for parking her car. Joe bought a manual mill and a saw to fill his side of the garage and went to work making his custom tools. So, in 1986 Monaco Tool Company was born. Joe would manufacture tools in his garage shop and then he would go out and sell them from the back of his car. His business formula worked, as he would come home with an empty car, make more tools, and go out and sell more, not to mention he was paying his bills.
The business grew and the business model was sound; Make some of the best tools in the industry, put your own name on them, and guarantee them like no other. As the business grew Joe and Sharon had to try and keep up with demand and they found their business expanding out of their garage. I n 1 9 9 0 Jo e a n d S h a r o n h a d a n o t h e r b r a i n s t o r m ; they thought if they could make a concise tool catalog Joe wo u l d n eve r have to go out on the road and sell again. So, Joe and his wife bought a mailing list for the diesel repair industry and the truck repair industry and they sent out post cards to the top users to qualify the new prospective customers. I n 1 9 9 1 t h e Monaco Tool Catalog made its debut, Joe took over the complete 2-car g a r a g e , a n d Sharon came aboard full time in the business with Joe. Sharon ran a new mill and kept the company books and did whatever else it took to make the business a success. In 2000 the Monaco team bought a house in Coburn, OR with a 1500 sq. ft. shop behind the house and the next level was taken to grow the business. Monaco Tool hired their first full time employee in that year bringing their count to three musketeers. The Monacos grew the business in this space for 5 years until the business success forced them to a new larger manufacturing facility. One year later an expansion was done with another expansion right after that bringing the manufacturing space to about 4,000 square feet. In 2002 a new CNC lathe, and a new CNC mill were added to the Monaco Tools arsenal and they were trying their best to keep up with the A2 Z MANUFACTURING WEST COAST • 49 • JUNE/JULY 2015 demand for diesel motor tools. Joe said, “We had to jump right into the 21st century with CNC machine tools because we had to get the work done. The catalog idea took off and we found ourselves buried in orders and this was good. The only problem was our name was on our tools and we had to deliver to this new demand. We weren’t going to deliver sub-standard tools either. These tools are precision and we needed state of the art machine tools to make the tools to strict high tolerances and quickly. With 3 full time employees, 4 CNC machine tools, and only 24 hours in a day, Sharon and I still couldn’t keep up! In 2005 we moved to our current location and we had to quickly expand to our present 6200 sq. ft. area, add a live tooling lathe and another vertical milling center, bringing our employees and machine tools to 9 each.”
Monaco Tool outsources to local suppliers to do the processes they don’t do in house. One of the processes that presented a bottleneck to Monaco Tool was the grinding of some of the higher precision components that have to be dead center and have a perfect finish and high tolerance dimensions.
Joe said, “ I don’t do grinding to make money, I do grinding so I will not miss sales. Missing a sales opportunity is like money out of the pocket and a guy won’t stay in business long missing opportunities to sell his product. I now do grinding in house to control the process and to get the job done quickly and with the highest precision. I needed a grinder I could run all of my parts on, sometimes at the same time. I saw this DCM-Tech CNC grinding machine at a trade show and I got a first hand demonstration on it. I knew this might save me some time and trouble by controlling this process in house. I sent some parts to DCM-Tech and I got back some really great samples. I bought the DCM-Tech IG 280 SD grinding machine tool because I felt it would do all of the parts I could ever dream up for my tool assemblies and it is so easy to run. The DCM-Tech machine is well constructed and I can say that because I’ve been around machines and machine tools all of my life. I know a quality machine when I get my hands on it. I think these DCM machines are built to last. Also, the sales guy Skip Green was easy to talk to and I could really relate to him as he’s a diesel mechanic and knew what I needed in a grinding machine. Skip understood the application and he had the knowledge not only of the industry but a great knowledge of grinding and machining which is rare in this day and age. Skip and another DCM-Tech guy came to set up the machine and gave us some great training so we were up and running in no time. They are coming back soon for further training and to see what we have forgotten. That’s great service!” Joe continued, “The secret to our success is we have great employees, great machine tools, and the key inventory on the shelf ready to ship! If you call the other diesel tool manufacturing companies they might tell you it would take 4-6 weeks or maybe even 8 weeks before you could get your tools shipped. This is money out of your customer’s pocket and they are in business to make money too, so you’d better deliver! This grinding machine helps me make sure I deliver tooling assemblies fast without waiting for an outside process (3-4 week process) I can’t control. You call Monaco Tool and you will get a top-notch tool at a very fair price and your tool will be on its way today! This is a testament to what a great machine tool (DCM-Tech IG 280SD) and control of a key process will get you. This helps us provide a service that is the same quality as our products, the finest anywhere!”
The DCM-Tech IG 280SD Surface Grinder is an exceptional machine from DCM’s line of rotary surface grinders. It’s used, for the most part, in mid and high volume applications. The programmable c o n t r o l s a v e s g r i n d p a r a m e t e r s by part name for repeatable p r o c e s s automation. The ser vo dr iven z-axes delivers true feed rates and repeatable p o s i t i o n i n g. T h i s m o d e l brings the best characteristics of rotary surface g r i n d e r s t o every business model. Grinding a p p l i c a t i o n s include: Fuel Injection Solenoids, Cast Iron Screw Compressor Heads, Carbide Slitter Knives, Silicon Plates, and much more. Machine Specifications include: Swarf Removal Coolant Filtration, 20HP Grinding Spindle Motor, Variable Speed Grinding Spindle, Air Mist Collector, Rotary Table Options 18 Magnetic (Std.) 24 Magnetic (Opt.) 18 T-Slot Table with Through Spindle Air or Vacuum, 76 x 64 Footprint (w/Swarf Filtration). For more information on Monaco Tool contact them at: 541-689-8579, www.monacotool.com For more information on DCM-Tech and their fine line of programmable grinding solutions contact them at: 800-533-5339, www.dcm-tech.com