There’s some empty space in a brand new 8,000-square-foot addition added to Millennium Machine and Tool, 900 W. First. But that space won’t stay empty very long.
“We keep adding,” said Kris Wondra, production manager and co-owner. “We don’t have that building full, but we will.”
The company is in growth mode — adding three employee during the last three months and planning to add another three in the months ahead.
It wasn’t always so rosy — but making smart decisions and staying ahead of trends has kept the company moving forward.
Once taking up less than a quarter of the current building, Wondra and Brian Franz started with injection molding after graduating from the machine technology program at Brooks Trade Center and Newton High School.
The company expanded into machining parts. Without a sales team in place, they picked up business out of Wichita — most notably Big Dog Motorcycle company.
“That was a fun ride while it lasted,” Wondra said.
In about 2007 business started to slow down for Big Dog, and in turn Millennium Machine and Tool. At the time Big Dog made up 98 percent of MMT’s business.
“At our peak we had 49 employees and we were building all kinds of parts for that motorcycle,” Wondra said. “We started seeing it taper off ... We went out and got our aerospace certification, and hired a sales person in 2008.”
Business started to turn around, and then the recession hit. The company cut back to four day work weeks and kept the sales team hopping.
Now, MMT is growing again.
“Now everyone is working overtime and we have a good backlog,” Wondra said. “We will hire new people shortly, we have to get a couple of more machines first.”
The company diversified — no more putting all the eggs into one basket. Millennium Machine and Tool now makes parts for fir arm components, agricultural manufacturers and the aerospace industry.
Aerospace makes up about 20 percent of the company’s business — and it is growing quickly.
“Five years ago we did zero aerospace,” Wondra said. “Getting our [Aerospace AS9100] certification is one of the smartest things we have ever done.”
Wondra said he expects the aerospace industry to become MMT’s largest sector as early as next year. Currently the firearm industry is MMT’s largest buyer, making up 30 percent of sales.
The company purchased ground behind the current manufacturing facility — eyeing more possible expansion in the future.
For now, however, there is a new building to fill and possibly a few more employees to hire.
“It’s exciting,” Wondra said. “You have to add the right equipment and stay ahead of your competition. You have to have good people, and we are looking to add to our work force and add new equipment.”