American Innovative Products Inc. is a family owned and family run job shop in Anaheim, Ca. Since opening in 2003 the Reimbold family has taken a different approach in tackling job shop work.
Mike Reimbold, president of American Innovative Products (AIP) is a 3rd generation manufacturer. His grandfather started a business called Anaheim Automation. Mike’s father Bob Reimbold worked there for 35 years and that is where Mike was introduced to manufacturing. They specialized in robotics and automation. Bob an engineer and his father William Reimbold then opened Functional Robotics, designing and manufacturing CNC turret presses and CNC press brakes for the precision sheet metal industry. “Early 2000’s was not a great time for machinery design and sales,” tells Mike Reimbold. “So, in 2003 my dad, mom, me and my brother-in-law Ricky Lindenburg started American Innovative Products. We didn’t have our own product line, no big contracts for productions runs, so we decided a job shop was the perfect way to grow a business. We started building custom robotics for one of Bob’s friends company’s and here we are almost 20 years later set to expand into a multi-state operation.”
Over the years family members have come and gone, but the core of the operation has remained the same. Mike handles programming and company management, Bob engineers, Ricky is shop foreman, brother Tommy Reimbold is head of QC, sales and customer service, mom, Donna Reimbold is office manager. “We really are a family run business,” tells Mike. “My cousin Adam Helbert is our Lead lathe man and even my daughter has come in to debur parts during her summer breaks.” Family works well for AIP. Each member has different strengths but a common goal. “Like everyone else in the industry, finding skilled and reliable workers is a challenge,” chuckles Mike. “We run two shifts right now with 20 people and ¼ of us are related. So worst case we could field a shift by ourselves if we had to. But really, finding people that fit is difficult, so we look for people that want to work and train in house. We are also lucky that there is a great local resource just down the road, Fullerton Junior College.”
Mike learned to run CNC machines right out of high school while working for his dad and grandfather. “We were all manual machines at Anaheim Automation,” tells Mike. “Then one day they got a Bridgeport mill with a boss 9 control. It was entry level, but full 3 axis, and you had to change tools by hand. They sent three guys from the shop to learn how to use it. They came back and couldn’t make a damn thing on it. I was just a kid, 18 years old maybe. A salesman at Functional Robotics Dennis Yosanivich said ‘I’m sending you to training’. Three days of training in LA and I was back cutting chips. It just came naturally for me. I always just liked making stuff.” Mike continued his education at Fullerton Junior College, taking classes as part of their general machine shop program. “I was already a pretty solid machinist at the time,” continues Mike. “But back in the day learning AutoCad and Cad/Cam was a big deal and a great way to elevate my game. They have a fantastic program over there headed up by Dan O’Brien. I’ve sent a few of our guys there including our shop foreman Ricky, my brother-in-law. He too took advantage of being close by and took a bunch of classes. Being in the industry already we typically have a different knowledge base than most of the other students, but there are fundamentals that we might never have learned on the job. They are a great local resource for sure and I encourage all the local shops to check them out. Dan’s dad has a shop right behind us, so they too are a family with manufacturing in their veins.”
AIP have a shop filled with an assortment of CNC milling, turning and Swiss turning centers. Trusted brands like Haas, Doosan, Brother, Hardinge, Okuma and Nomura are spread between 5 units. “We have 20 CNC machines and some manual stuff,” describes AIP’s shop manager Ricky Lindenburg. “As a job shop, we need a variety of capabilities to best service the customers. Good thing about being a job shop is there is never a dull day. Bad thing about being a job shop is there is never a dull day. We are constantly being challenged and love it.” Setting AIP apart from the perceived job shop is their certifications. AIP is an AS9100 and ISO9001 accredited operation. “Quality has always been important,” adds QC manager Tommy Reimbold. “Ten years ago, we got our ISO certification, and it opened the doors to new business opportunities. We earned more advanced jobs and with that came customers that valued the higher level of precision. We wound up getting AS9100 certification soon after. It is a costly process, but one that we and our customers value. Even our customers that don’t require certs benefit from the processes. Our tolerances, our protocols, our QC lab are all above that of most other job shops.”
AIP have a wide variety of machines to do a wide variety of jobs. AIP have palletized machining centers, 4 axis milling, Swiss turning, standard turning, and mill turn. “Automation is one of the ways we are trying to keep prices down and our efficiency high,” details Mike. “From intake to delivery we are seeing opportunities to improve. Something as simple sounding as material cutting on automated saws makes a difference. Any new machine or even used machine we buy must reduce setups. For us the savings comes in automation on the actual machines and not in robotics loading parts. Sure, you can reduce human error that way, but as a job shop we really need people thinking all the time. We saw how many of our parts required a 4th axis mill op after coming off the lathe and started to look at options to deliver us a finished part. We have a Nomura NN20J2 with a bar feeder from Gosiger. It is in the same building as our bar fed Okuma Genos L300M. Between those two machines alone we get a ton of finished parts. They are not the standard CNC machine you typically find in a job shop, but their speed and accuracy are phenomenal. Loading bar and getting a finished part out the other side is a huge cost saver. Once we get Idaho up and running, I see a pallet horizontal in our future. Looking at the offerings from Okuma right now. Multiple jobs setup and lights out running seems like a great way to maintain pricing across the board.”
AIP is looking closely at 12-14,000 sq.ft. of expansion in Idaho as soon as this summer. With some of their largest customers based in Utah and Tennessee shipping from Idaho or California makes little difference. Their goal is to focus quick turnaround, light production, prototyping and local customer support from their Southern California location and utilize Idaho in a different capacity. “It’s costly to do business in California,” tells Mike. “We see having a second location out of state as a great way to cut costs without just moving the entire company. Hard costs are cheaper there, labor is less, buildings are less. So, it will help us maintain pricing. No one likes to raise the price of a part. We have part numbers that date back almost 20 years and they have never had a price increase. I was just in Idaho scouting locations and the local talent pool. I met with students at the local Junior College CWI they have a great machine shop program and spoke to them about what it is like to be in manufacturing. We see moving a couple machines and buying new ones as a great way to open Idaho operations for production runs, blanket orders, set deliveries, and inventory.”
AIP have customers that have been with them since the beginning. They really shine with it comes to customer service. “Most job shops won’t inventory parts, won’t take blanket orders, spreading out delivery over a few months,” concludes Mike. “Many shops don’t even answer the phone or email. We have great communication and customer relations. Simple things like that make a big difference. We value our customers and they in return value us.”