Gyford Productions has come a long way from the mom-and-pop business that literally used to be just mom and pop. Steve and Valerie Gyford were producing museum displays and trade show booths out of a small shop in Reno, Nevada. Steve had a need to hold a piece of glass in front of artwork and came up with an idea for a spacer. He couldn’t find one commercially available so he had one made. When another project came up with the same requirement and he realized he couldn’t be the only one in need of this type of product, the Gyford’s went to a local machine shop and had a few parts made to go with a postcard mailer. Now, 26 years later, the Gyford StandOff is synonymous with this style of spacer in multiple industries.
Today, Gyford Productions occupies two buildings totaling 32,000 square feet with 44 employees. They have a sales force, marketing team and more than a dozen people working in manufacturing. George Lacombe joined the team Thirteen years ago as the manufacturing manager of the growing company.
“I’ve known the Gyford’s for a long time,” said Lacombe. “Their shop was next to mine when I moved to Reno, and we became friends. They had no in-house manufacturing then, and from time to time they would seek my input on producing a part.” Lacombe is a southern California transplant with a background in machine building and CNC retrofits. After stints at FMC Corporation and Northrop Aircraft he packed his family and moved to Reno to get away from the big city rush.
“Admittedly, I miss the beach,” joked Lacombe. “But that’s really about it. Out this window is Mt. Rose and the Sierras, and through that one is the Virginia Mountain range. Views like that are hard to come by.”
“The Gyford’s believed then and now in current technology,” explained Lacombe, who was originally hired to develop the company’s manufacturing department. “Once we started buying equipment the demand kept increasing and increasing. We started out with two turning centers, then added [more].” The new manufacturing team outgrew their capabilities quicker than expected. They began investing in multi-axis, dual turret, Y-axis machines and went into uncharted territory and expanded into Swiss-style turning machines.
When evaluating the fit of a new machine purchase, Lacombe considers four key elements: product handling, single- or multi-setup capabilities, product finish and cycle time.
“Citizen was the Swiss product line that fit our needs the best, and we have been happy with them ever since,” described Lacombe. “We started out with a single M32 and a year later bought another one.”
Spinetti Machinery has supplied Gyford Productions with all their Citizens, and less than a year ago Spinetti installed another Citizen turning center, the M432. The newest machine takes everything loved on the M32 and gives it a little extra. This next generation machine increases the three-tool simultaneous machining abilities with a new Y3 axis on the back tool post which carries up to nine tools (up to six driven). New, advanced functions include a B axis on the gang tool post with four axis simultaneous containing control. For Gyford Productions’ application the adaptive guide bushing and how the bar feeder integrates with the machines are nice features, but their true love is how it can deliver a part. Together with Spinetti Machinery and Citizen, Gyford Productions has developed an unloading device to transport the product out of the machine and away from the work envelope without using chutes and parts baskets.
“Parts with our finish are damaged by collisions with other parts,” explained Justin Ireland, the company’s manufacturing supervisor. “A scratched or scuffed part is a rejected part.” The customized delivery system has also given Gyford Productions the ability to run all the machines in a lights-out configuration.
“Depending on the part and the quantity, the unmanned shifts can be a little as two hours to as long as eight hours,” added Lacombe. “Our philosophy is machine-complete. The parts come off the Citizens finished. We try and avoid any second or third operations.”
With lot sizes ranging from 1,000 to 50,000, speed is a key ingredient in Gyford Productions’ success. The company made a significant investment going with Citizen but, as Lacombe pointed out, it has allowed them to meet a much larger demand.
“Before the Citizens, a part could take between one and four minutes depending on the material and complexity,” explained Lacombe. “Now that one minute part takes 30 seconds and the four minute part is down to one minute. Our efficiencies have improved drastically and all without sacrificing quality.” Quality is judged at Gyford Productions on a little different scale than at a shop running flight hardware.
“Tolerances are important to us, but we don’t hold as tight as someone making a bearing shaft for the space shuttle,” said Lacombe. “Finish is what is important to us. We are very particular about the finish”. Gyford sets a high standard by delivering such a fine finish that is difficult to obtain by most machine shops right off the machines.
“It is harder to obtain and be consistent with, but our finish helps to distinguish us from our competition,” said Lacombe. “The… Citizens and [other machines] all hold the finish we need. You don’t need to be in machining to notice the difference right away when you see our product in a real world application.”
Gyford Productions manufactures and stocks 350 different parts and 350 different combinations of hardware. At any given time, 95-98% of those products are on the shelf and ready for delivery.
“Think of us as an erector set,” clarified Lacombe. “As with any erector set, your imagination is the limit.” Museums, trade show exhibit builders and the sign industry all use Gyford Productions’ products. Architects ask for them by name and, with in-house manufacturing, the company is able to customize products for individual applications.
New products keep Gyford Productions at the forefront of their industry, and ahead of the pack. Their product lines are always advancing. What started out as a simple 1-inch cap and 1-inch barrel have evolved into 26 caps and 100 different barrel combinations.
“The only way to stay ahead is to innovate,” said Lacombe.
Made in USA and in stock today means a lot to Gyford Productions. They use American-made 6061 aluminum & 316 stainless steel and keep material certificates on file for all materials for traceability. Their most popular items have as many as 50,000 parts in inventory at all times. They can accommodate a 10,000-piece order and have it shipped the next day. Last year saw Gyford Productions manufacture nearly 2 million parts, quite the feat for a company of their size and manpower. Their goal for 2015 is to raise that number substantially.
“The competition doesn’t use the same materials or carry near the inventory,” concluded Lacombe. “Our customers appreciate the added value when choosing Gyford [Productions]. We take pride in what we do, and it shows.”