FuzeHub sits down with Shawn Baker of Chenango Valley Technologies a 47 year old full service injection molding company. Listen to their story about how they’ve grown to be a one-stop-shop for anyone needing their services.
Steve Melito: Hey, welcome to New York State Manufacturing Now, a podcast powered by FuzeHub. I’m your host, Steve Melito, and today we are at Chenango Valley Technologies in Sherburne, New York, and we’re about to speak with Shawn Baker. Shawn, welcome.
Shawn Baker: Thank you for having us today.
Steve Melito: Excellent. So I guess maybe even to start with, we’ll talk a little bit about the room that we’re in. Some of the folks that may be listening may hear a little noise in the background, and I thought that might be a good way to start.
Shawn Baker: Sure. We are in the CVT conference room. This is where our correspondence with new customers begins. The noise we hear in the background is our 3D printer. We keep that in our conference room so customers and startups can come in and see their product come to life in front of them.
Steve Melito: So Shawn, let’s talk a little bit about the Chenango Valley Technology story. How did you get started in how long has CVT been in business?
Shawn Baker: My father started CVT 47 years ago as a tool and die shop. We became a full service molder through the purchase of Madison Plastics in 1995 and continuous improvements.
Steve Melito: Today, what kind of products do you make and which markets do you serve?
Shawn Baker: CVT is a full service custom injection molder supplying most industries. Our products include design, prototypes, tool and die, and plastic molded parts. Our end product in most cases is an injection molded part. Our volumes range from a few hundred pieces well into the millions.
Steve Melito: You said you’re an injection molder and there’s a lot of injection molders out there, so what makes CVT special or unique?
Shawn Baker: We handle all phases of the process. In- house. When a customer meets with us, we have design, tooling, and production all under one roof. This saves much time and makes CVT responsible for the entire process. I recall in the past when we were a standalone tool and die shop, we would have meetings with new customers and there would be a tool and die business, a design service, and a molding company all meeting together, and they each have their own scope of work and their own responsibility. It’s easy in situations like they have to point fingers at each other if the process does not go as smooth as we would like. At CVT, all of those industries are on one payroll, in one building, under one roof. We are the sole responsibility for a project.
Steve Melito: Excellent. So from the customer’s perspective, it’s truly one- stop shopping, one source.
Shawn Baker: It is. Yeah, it is. And when we have customers tour our facility, they can see every process in our building.
Steve Melito: And so that one- stop shopping, if I can just do a little plug for FuzeHub, we kind of work under the same model, which is manufacturers come to us looking for assistance, we can connect them to a lot of different resources. And the reason I mention that is from the FuzeHub perspective, part of what we see with CVT and what makes you different is that you’ll work with startup companies. What’s that been like?
Shawn Baker: We do. We have learned to give customers budget pricing as early as possible. In some cases, startups are surprised that their idea is affordable and they can get started very quickly. In other cases, the more complex designs are not within their budget and they must find financing. Our goal is to have options for most budgets, and we are excited to work with startups. Many times we can meet for just a few minutes and we may send the startup back to the drawing board. In other cases, they may be surprised at how affordable their venture is and they can get started right away.
Steve Melito: In terms of working with startups, what advice would you give to them? In other words, what advice would you give to startups that want to come in and work with CVT?
Shawn Baker: Please meet with us as early as possible and have an open mind with their design. Many times startups, they have their daydreams about their part design, but it’s not always moldable, we call that. So meet with us, take our advice with part design if possible. Sometimes certain design characteristics are required to make their part operational, but if they come to us with a open mind and early in the process, they’re likely to be very successful.
Steve Melito: So it helps to come in early in the process. It helps to work with you and you have the expertise clearly after being in the industry for so many years.
Shawn Baker: Yes.
Steve Melito: So Chenango Valley Technologies also works with established manufacturers. What are some of the challenges that these companies face and how does CVT provide solutions?
Shawn Baker: Plastics is a very competitive industry. Our solutions include running difficult- to- process jobs and jobs that require more energy. Thanks to low cost electric, we are very competitive with thick wall plastic parts. I mentioned that we run difficult- to- process jobs. Having all phases of the process here allows us to troubleshoot jobs very quickly and we also have the expertise and experience.
Steve Melito: Great. I suppose that helps with the lack of trying to blame someone else, right? Everything happens here, everybody can communicate with each other and you can get it done.
Shawn Baker: Correct. We are one team and every member of our team seems to get along well. That can be demonstrated with a quick meeting with our team here at CVT.
Steve Melito: So, Shawn, a lot of manufacturers across the state are concerned about workforce. For you, is it challenging to find employees here in the Chenango Valley?
Shawn Baker: Finding experience to help is difficult everywhere for a variety of reasons. We have been fortunate to find skilled help. We currently have two trades in the New York State Apprenticeship Program. My value as president is to grow and maintain our team through training and respect. My office door is welcome to all employees who have questions about CVT. So I guess to better answer your question, it is challenging to find skilled workers everywhere. I believe our experience is better than most because we do our best to treat our employees fair.
Steve Melito: So CVT has a long history. Where do you see the company in five years from now? For example, are you thinking about adding new services?
Shawn Baker: Our services in five years will be similar to that of today. Our software technology and personnel will update as the industry demands. I am confident right now with all of the services that we offer, there is not a need to add to those services. I’d like to concentrate on the ones that we do now, and I believe we are better than most in those services in our industries, but we have to keep up with technology.
Steve Melito: So earlier I made a little pitch for FuzeHub, and we’re the statewide manufacturing extension partnership center, and we connect manufacturers like CVT to lots of different state- funded assets. Have you ever worked with any New York State funded assets? For example, AM& T, one of our sister organizations is just down the road in Binghamton. Have you ever talked to AM& T before?
Shawn Baker: I have talked with both FuzeHub and AM&T in the past. I support both organizations’ efforts and look forward to more correspondence in the future.
Steve Melito: And so, Shawn, before we close, is there anything else that you’d like our listeners to know about Chenango Valley Technologies?
Shawn Baker: We welcome visitors who would like to learn more about plastics. Please, anyone who has a startup venture or would like to learn more about injection molding, tooling and design, please call any time to set up a visit. I’m proud to show people through our shop. It’s nice to have a bit of advanced notice. We do some work with non- disclosure agreements. So to give a full tour, if we have a few day heads up, we can take the time and go into much detail with the tour.
Steve Melito: And we’re out here on a beautiful day and it’s worth the drive, right?
Shawn Baker: It is.
Steve Melito: Okay.
Shawn Baker: We do appreciate your visit today and we look forward to more correspondence with your team.
Steve Melito: Outstanding. Outstanding. So we’re here at Chenango Valley Technologies, CVT in Sherburne, New York, and we’ve been talking to Shawn Baker about his company, and on behalf of New York State Manufacturing Now, the podcast powered by FuzeHub, my name is Steve Melito and I thank you for listening. Oh, one thing before we head out, if you are a manufacturer, a startup, inventor, or entrepreneur, and you’re listening to this and you need assistance, go to www. fuzehub. com. Look for the solutions program menu, and you’ll find a menu option there where you can submit an online request for assistance. You can do so at 24/ 7, anytime of day, and someone from our organization, probably me, will get back to you. So again, on behalf of New York State Manufacturing Now, I’m Steve Melito signing off.