March 28, 2016
Manufacturing Excellence Awards

Phillips Precision uses quick turnaround, experimentation

Phillips Precision uses the equipment on its shop floor to not only serve clients' orders, but to come up with new products that can make manufacturing easier.

Phillips Precision in Boylston is a small manufacturer punching above its weight, not only delivering short-run production and specialized prototypes on tight schedules but creating its own products.

The family-owned company started in 1997 is run by Cathy and Steve Phillips with Cathy bringing the business mind to Steve's engineering brain. Between the two of them, they have built a 12-person machine shop. While the company started out and still does create for others, it also builds its own products designed to ease the process for manufacturers.

"Both of us just got tired of working for big corporations and wanted to have some control," Cathy said.

The company's first product was the Pitbull Clamp sold to manufacturers worldwide. That was followed by a number of other products that most recently include the Arsenal line of grid plates to allow quick swapping of machinery to break up production bottlenecks.

"Their concepts are very robust and help Central Massachusetts and Massachusetts manufacturers reduce their cost and, therefore, keep the customers and manufacturing in the United States while keeping the business vibrant," said Chip Emerson, president of Trade Winds Group, Inc.

Emerson helps Phillips distribute its products, but this came about after he was contracted by another company to appraise a new product line. Upon seeing the products coming out of Phillips, he knew he wanted to help sell them.

Helping themselves

Those products all came out of issues Phillips ran into on the work floor, said Steve Phillips. With the tools used to fill customer orders, the company could fabricate solutions to their own problems. This has since extended to problem solving for customers' needs.

"We realized very early on that we had a high-tech prototyping facility at our fingertips. So any time we have an idea for something new… we can whip something up really quick and go from there," he said. "Pitbull Clamp went from first design to prototype in an hour."

These products are still produced in house, helping fill slower work cycles, said Cathy Phillips. Customers requiring a quick turnaround are prioritized amid Phillips' own production.

The machinists the company has on hand are the kind of skilled hands that know how to program machines and attend to intricate orders, rather than just plugging in a program to a machine and sitting a warm body on it, said Steve.

Between the company's extremely quick turnaround time and their precision, they are able to secure a vast array of clients from an array of different industries. Table Talk Pies employs Phillips Precision to help keep the production line running, counting on them for the perfect crimp around the edge of their pies. When Bose needed complicated components made with a fast turnaround for Bill Belichick's headset, it turned to Phillips.

Read about the other Manufacturing Excellence Awards winners:

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