By Alicia Cunningham | May 10, 2016
Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah
Anthony Barney, CEO of Advance Manufacturing Technology (AMT), oversees a company that provides machinist services and products to the aerospace, defense, medical, oil and gas, and even recreation industries. But 40 years ago, AMT was simply his father’s dream, a company located in his own backyard.
“My Dad, Keith Barney, did not want to work for wages all of his life,” Barney says. “He was a machinist and was working as a manager at another machine shop. But he saved his money and built his own business.”
Barney was able to watch his father’s business grow, and he stayed involved in the process in any way he was allowed. After he earned an engineering degree, Barney returned to his father’s business. “We were not in the backyard anymore,” Barney laughs, “and we continue to expand and grow. In 2008, we finished construction on our current facility in Salt Lake City. We filled less than half of the space when we moved in. Now we fill all of it.”
Diversification of clients has ensured AMT continues to grow in the Salt Lake City area. “We do not focus on just one industry,” Barney says. “We try to keep a wide exposure so when some areas fail, others can take up the slack. It’s allowed us to be in business through 40 years. When one or two areas are in the toilet, competitors who only serve that area die on the vine while we are able to power through.”
Nearly 80 percent of all AMT’s clients are in the Salt Lake area, the remaining 20 percent from local states such as Arizona and Idaho. “All engineering companies find in us a ready and willing workforce. They want their stuff made quickly, and we are ready to make it for them.”
Utah’s diverse business offerings serve AMT well, and the recreation opportunities offered to AMT’s workforce cannot be beat. “Where else can you go skiing in the morning, biking in the afternoon, and wakeboarding in the early evening?” Barney asks. “But the bigger industrial players do not have a full presence here yet. Many of them do not have full facilities. Their Utah locations are more of an outpost. It’s a challenge.”
As AMT serves local clients, they are also focused on hiring locally. “We like to hire journeyman machinists,” Barney says. “We hire an entry-level employee right out of high school. We start them out cleaning up, helping with metal finishing. If they show promise, vision, aptitude, we invite them to participate in a machinist apprenticeship program. We help them develop skills and become machinists.”
This training is a double-edged sword for AMT. They receive the benefit of the machinist they train and create. But they can just as easily lose them to a competitor when the mentoring and education process is complete.
“Machinists are a valuable commodity,” Barney adds. “We find that we need to pay them what they are truly worth. But sometimes, working here for a while, they think they can see greener grasses and try other places. But then, sometimes, they come back.”
Challenges: Matching internal rigor with growth. “When we were just a small shop, we just had four or five machinists. It was easy to manage,” Barney says. “As we’ve gotten bigger, it is harder.”
Opportunities: Existing clients provide great opportunities, but AMT always keeps an eye out for a new partnership. “We would like to expand and have new customers,” Barney says, adding that they are just scratching the surface of the aerospace, medical and defense industries in Utah.
Need: Utilizing new marketing techniques is a need. “We moved into Twitter and Facebook,” Barney says. But nothing, he believes, beats direct, personal contact. “We need to go directly to a specific customer,” he says. “Our best result is from creating person-to-person relationships.”