Expedite Precision Works Inc. in San Jose, California started out in Orlando Teixeira’s garage with the hope of adding some extra money to his bank account. He had nothing more than a manual mill, manual lathe, surface grinder, saw, and a dream. Over the last 28 years, Expedite has evolved into a high complexity, tight tolerance, precision manufacturing center with 5 axis milling and Swiss turning.
Orlando got into the business almost by mistake. After taking classes for electronics technology and coming to the conclusion he didn’t like it, he got a job at a local machine shop sweeping floors and deburring parts. “I thought I would make a little money while I figured things out,” says Orlando Teixeira, founder, and president of Expedite Precision Works Inc. “I must have done a good job because they kept asking me to do different things, moving me up to more important roles. I knew then that this was the job for me, I loved it, and I focused on learning as much as I could at every place I worked. Luckily, I worked for companies that were willing to train me. That aspect of teaching those who want to learn is a key element I brought into my own business. I worked for one of the best machine shops in the Bay Area, and at that time they were desperate for machinists, not as desperate as we are now, but close. They took the time to train me because they needed people who could do the job, but also because they saw potential in me that I hadn’t yet realized. I remember that feeling, knowing that as long as I was willing to learn there were people willing to teach. That is also a fundamental part of Expedite Precision Works.” The first two months Orlando went out to the machines every day and polished and oiled them because he had no work. His break came when a local semiconductor OEM gave him random overflow parts to machine. As the OEM grew, Expedite grew, and six months later Orlando had rented a small building to house his growing enterprise. “My original goal was to make some extra money, but right away I found great satisfaction in keeping the customer happy. To this day a happy customer still brings me joy knowing we did a good job. Happy customers breed happy customers, and everything else just fell into place.”
Yousuff Habibullahkhan has been with Expedite for 21 years, not since the beginning, but pretty close to it. His official title is director of operations at Expedite Precision Works Inc., but as a small company with only 30 employees Yousuff, along with the rest of the management team wear a lot of different hats depending on the needs of the day. Orlando credits him with wearing the most hats, while operations support, Martin Teixeira, claims to wear only one less hat than Yousuff. The takeaway from the extensive hat collection is companywide adaptability. “When Orlando started the company making odds and ends for a single customer, it is important to recognize that the semiconductor industry is a very volatile industry,” explains Yousuff. “Pricing is ruthless, things change pretty quickly. From that starting point in the garage to where we are now is impressive. Over the last 28 years we’ve adapted and evolved. Most of our customers now come from the medical and aerospace industries. We still do the odds and ends, along with R & D and pre-production, but our main focus is on production runs. We’ve designed the business around our customer’s needs. If there is a piece of technology we need to pursue and incorporate into our business practices, we have done that. We acquire the latest machine tools as well as maintain all items needed to excel in these industries like ISO certifications. We are ISO9001, ISO13485, and ITAR certified. All these things came about because we saw a need at the time and for the future. The semiconductor business is very cyclical; some years are very good, and others are very bad. We knew diversification was a way to avoid pitfalls and grow the business. Orlando decided that medical was the next growth opportunity for us and we made an effort to attract medical device customers. We were able to parlay our knowledge and craft into Aerospace after that.” “Everything we do, and every machine we buy is to support our customers now and into the future,” adds Martin. “A lot of our machining centers are under 5 years old, and we have pretty extensive capabilities that include 5 axis milling, Swiss turning, EDM, surface grinding, and even laser welding. Every year the designs get more complex. To keep up with that demand we are in a constant state of investing in new equipment and software to best support our customers. Everything from our ERP software to the three Mitutoyo CNC CMMs are operating with the latest specs to best support our customers. Our E2 Shop System is an end to end solution capturing everything from the RFQ stage up through accounting. We utilize the latest in CAD/CAM software as well, running MasterCam, GeoPath, FeatureCam, Part Maker, Solid Works and SurfCam. We have all the bases covered and can utilize as much or as little as needed. We have 5-6 really good programmers, but at least ten guys can program as needed.”
Expedite Precision’s milling department consists of one Matsuura horizontal H-Plus-405 10 pallet cell system with 240 tools, one YCM FX380A 5-AXIS vertical machining center with glass scales on all axis: X, Y, Z, A, C and Renishaw spindle and tool probing, three YCM vertical machine centers, one MATRIX XR510, high precision/high speed vertical machining center, three Haas Super VF-2, one standard VM2 and a single Fadal VMC 4020. Turning is accomplished by Kia and Hyundai lathes that include: KIA Turn 21, KIA Super Turn 21, KIA KIT 450 and two Hyundai WIA machines. Expedite got into Swiss turning the second their customers had a need, after that there was no turning back. The Swiss department is made up of six Star machines and a single Nomura. The Stars all have live tooling with full C axis, but their Star SR20RIV-B takes things even further with full B axis with 3 front milling and 3 rear milling units, live tooling, full C axis with sub spindle and broken tool detector. Orlando and his team learned long ago that the more processes they control in house the better the parts and the happier the customer. “We have PO’s that require us to do all the manufacturing in house,” tells Orlando. “Even the ones that don’t mandate in-house manufacturing still like that their job is under our complete control. In-house manufacturing is always less money than sending it out, and we are able to pass that savings along to the customer.” “Not only do they get a better part, but they get it at a better price,” adds Yousuff. “That’s how we got into wire EDM machining. We had a part that required EDM and we would have lost the job if we sent it out. So, we purchased a SODICK AQL325L and the next week ran the part. Wire EDM’s are super versatile machines and we added a larger SODICK VL 600Q not long after. We use it for manufacturing as well as making our own tooling.” “Next up for us is a cryogenic deburring machine” continues Martin. “We were manually doing it for years, then it became an outside process, but we’ve reached a point where we need to have it back under our control again. It is a very efficient way to deburr parts and should be on our shop floor very soon.”
Orlando can’t think of a single piece of equipment that wasn’t purchased because of a direct need. They don’t buy machine tools in the hope that someday it will get used. If there is a better, faster, more efficient way to do things they find it. If the numbers make sense, they buy it straight away. When they saw the trend of more and more complex parts coming from their customers, they knew adding a YCM 5th axis machining center was the best way to adapt to the new challenges. “Adding the YMC 5 axis machine a year and a half ago gained us a lot of capabilities,” tells Martin.” But, as the guy who wears the HR hat, it also left us scrambling to find good people to program and run it. When it comes to the talent pool we have to compete locally with companies like Apple and Tesla.” So instead of watching them take who they want, Expedite began to implement their own extensive in-house training program focusing on the 5- axis and Swiss machines. They’ve found enough similarities between the 5 axis and the Swiss machines to successfully cross train on a variety of machine tools. “First we invest in good equipment, then we invest in our employees,” continues Yousuff. “Our employees are as important as our customers and having them trained and educated in the latest advances in machine tools and software is a big part of our success. Everyone has a different skill set, but everyone can improve on what they do. By cross training and educating, employees grow as we grow. It increases value to us as a company, increases value to our customers, and increases value to them as individuals.” “Training was a big part of my career,” adds Orlando. “My past employers helped me to achieve more as a machinist. I ate up the opportunity to learn and so do our employees. Employees are our biggest asset. Our employees keep our customers happy by making great parts, offering great service and so forth. They are the first and last line of defense and the more they know the better we are at servicing our clients. Martin has played a big part in the decision to really put forth time, effort and dollars into employees we see with great potential. He is a lot younger than Yousuff and having a fresh outlook and younger perspective really enhances our management team.” The frequency of training has improved drastically recently. What once might be annually is now quarterly and so forth. With the information fresh in everyone’s minds, employees retain it much better. The biggest aspect of their in-house training as of late is as simple as trying harder. “We laugh about trying harder, but it’s true,” explains Martin. “How you go about continued education makes a big difference. They see management’s commitment and effort and that is reciprocated back to us.” “We also really listen to our employees,” tells Yousuff. “They know where we need improvement, and they come to us with aspirations of advancement. Having the best trained, most versatile employees is a win for everyone. A perfect example of how our cross-training program paid off is one of our medical customers manufactures Covid test kits. We were able to shuffle people around who don’t normally run the Swiss machines into that department and add extra shifts. Added production helped our customer help us as a country. If we didn’t cross train, then this wouldn’t have been possible.”
Covid hit Expedite Precision Works Inc. right out of the gate with an employee’s relative testing positive for the virus. Even though they are an essential business, they shut down for 2 weeks so everyone could be tested before returning. After self-quarantine and negative test results, employees could come back to work. CNC West Magazine conducted this interview via Zoom during that time with Yousuff, Martin and Orlando all in different locations. It was early in the lockdown, and admittedly Orlando’s first Zoom meeting. “Initially, as a company we looked at the best ways to keep our people as safe as possible,” details Yousuff. “One of the first things we did was control access to the facility. Everyone now enters via the lobby, so we know when and who is coming in at all times. Visitors are restricted and encouraged to reach out with technology instead of coming in.” Expedite are staggering shifts and breaks whenever possible, minimizing the number of essential people on site at any given time. They follow all the guidelines set forth by the CDC regarding masks, cleanliness and suggested distancing. They continue to monitor the guidelines closely and try to remain as nimble as they can in case there is a change in protocols. “Another option we’ve been implementing is working from home,” tells Yousuff. “Obviously, that isn’t possible company wide, but we’re finding ways to do it. Orlando started the business from his garage, so we figure it is ok to work from home when possible. We see every challenge as an opportunity for improvement and Covid19 is no different. There are takeaways from the pandemic that have helped us become better.” “Flu season has an impact on us every year,” adds Orlando. “With new protocols in place I am hoping we will eliminate some of the flu infections come winter. Take cleanliness for example, we always had a clean work environment, but now it has improved. Our new level of clean has become the baseline moving forward. There is no going back, only forward.”
Expedite Precision Works Inc. thrives in a volatile industry where challenges come at them often. “We don’t see anything as an impediment,” touts Yousuff. “We see things as challenges that we can overcome, challenges we want to overcome, and challenges we will overcome. Dot com busts, housing bubbles bursting, and now this pandemic. Each one of those challenges has made us a better company. We adapt, we learn, we improve.” That mentality comes from the top down. Management leads the way when it comes to adaptation. Take ISO for example. Management embrace it, so their employees embrace it. “Many companies look at ISO as being restrictive, and don’t want to be told how to do their job,” tells Orlando. “We see it as a way to guarantee repeatability and provide the best part possible for our customers.” “Not all our jobs require our certifications, but those practices are part of our shop-wide culture,” continues Yousuff. “Every job benefits from the standardization that ISO dictates. Orlando believes in constant improvement and that mentality is companywide. Just look at how far we’ve come as a manual garage shop to an ISO9001/13485 company.”
Expedite Precision’s goal is to establish and maintain long term relationships with their customers. Their partnerships might start in the development stage, the design for manufacturability stage, or at the time of production, but it is a partnership through and through. “We want to provide a cost-effective solution for our customers,” concludes Orlando. “We work with many multinational companies and see ourselves as an extension of their manufacturing team. Our long-term customers see us that way as well. They should, because we are with them beginning to end. Our customer’s core competency is in designing parts, our expertise is in manufacturing parts and managing the supply chain. Having us as a single point of contact makes it easier for them to concentrate on what they do best. That makes the customer happy, and we like happy customers.”
Article by LSean Buur Photos Supplied by Expedite Precision Works Inc.