Sharp Tool An Important Industry Partner to Sawmills, Pallet Plants
Supplier Keeps Their Cut-Up Operations Sawing Smoothly
By Tim Cox
Date Posted: 9/3/2002
Sharp Tool is an important partner to many companies in the pallet and sawmill industries. As a manufacturer of saw blades, related equipment and saw blade sharpening and remanufacturing services, many pallet plants and sawmills rely on Sharp Tool to keep their cut-up operations sawing smoothly.
Although the company makes substantial investments in plant, machinery and raw materials, perhaps its greatest attribute is its staff.
"My emphasis is to hire good people and keep them," said Paul Morette, owner and president. "We have an awful lot of people who have been here a long time."
Sharp Tool, based in Hudson, Massachusetts, supplies circular saw blades, knives, carbide, band saw blades and other equipment. Its manufacturing and repair facility contains a complete saw, knife and grinding center. The company provides repair services and custom-manufacturing services for equipment that may be difficult to replace.
Sharp Tool Co. specializes in repairing and sharpening dull or damaged carbide tipped saw blades. When saw blades arrive at Sharp Tool, they are initially cleaned and then evaluated for services necessary to return them to maximum cutting condition. The saw blades then proceed through the reconditioning cycle until they are ready to be packaged and loaded into one of several service trucks run by Sharp Tool on weekly customer routes. In addition, if saws or knives are deemed not repairable, Sharp Tool can replace them from stock or, if necessary, custom make a replacement. As Paul said, "We can pretty much make or repair any saw blade as long as it is cost effective for the customer." All Sharp Tool saw blades are sold on a guaranteed basis.
Sharp Tool sells and services Wright Manufacturing and Simonds Industries sharpening and grinding equipment. As a distributor of equipment for these two companies, Sharp Tool has technicians on staff in the East and West who can go to a customer location to repair or rebuild equipment and also provide training to filers. Sharp Tool provides a complete range of services, including equipment set-up, training and operator certification. The company also stocks a complete line of supplies and repair parts to keep the equipment operating at peak performance.
Paul’s father, Walter, started the company in Newton, Mass. with a partner in 1959. Walter had a trucking business at the time and had no prior experience in the saw blade industry or as a supplier. His initial role in the business was as an investor. His partner, previously a salesman for a saw blade manufacturing company, soon left the partnership, and Walter struggled to learn the business. He ran both his trucking company and Sharp Tool for about seven years before deciding to exit the trucking industry and give all his attention to Sharp Tool.
At the time that Walter launched Sharp Tool, carbide saw blades were still a fairly new technology. Carbide cutting tools were introduced in the early 1940s, but it was not until the 1950s that they became more widely used in sawmills and secondary wood processing businesses. Sharp Tool filled a void in the market for a supplier that could service carbide cutting tools.
At first, Sharp Tool’s principal business was repairing carbide-tipped circular saw blades. As it grew, it became a distributor for Simonds Saws (now Simonds Industries) and companies that manufactured other cutting tools and equipment. It grew and strengthened, developing mainly as it served customers in the New England region. Sharp Tool supplied sawmills, cabinet shops, furniture makers and veneer companies. Its customer accounts included Carris Reels-Kllington Wood Products in Vermont, which had a large pallet manufacturing operation, and also Ethan Allen Furniture.
Paul began working in his father’s business as a teenager and then directly after high school. He purchased the business from Walter and became principal owner in 1982 at age 27.
Paul led the company to develop and manufactures its own line of circular saws and knives. He set out on a deliberate strategy to increase sales and elevate Sharp Tool to the position of being a nationwide supplier. Paul pursued large-volume customers and expanded the company’s market area by adding sales staff and service personnel. Another part of his strategy was to advertise on a national basis, particularly to the pallet and sawmill sector of the forest products industry. The company experienced an immediate increase in the number of saw blades it was servicing and manufacturing.
Sharp Tool now employs 28 people and has annual sales of nearly $5 million. The company, which relocated about 30 miles west of Boston to the town of Hudson in 1993, now covers the complete U.S. with distribution in South America. Its revenues are divided roughly about 30% from sales of manufactured products, 30% service, and 40% sales of other products.
The company’s ‘bread and butter’ remains the sale and service of carbide tipped saw blades, although it is increasingly doing more business in band saw blades.
Sharp Tool’s operations are contained in a 16,800-square-foot building with distinct departments for circular saw blade service, chipper knife blade manufacturing, pre-tinning of carbide tips, circular saw manufacturing, wide band blade service, and narrow band blade service.
Dick Linnon and Jay Rodriguez are the company’s sales representatives in its Hudson offices. Two outside salesman, Woody Higgins and Les Nason, call on customers in the Eastern U.S. Woody covers the Northeast, including New York and Pennsylvania, while Les covers the Eastern Seaboard states of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, plus West Virginia and Ohio.
Dick joined Sharp Tool as a salesman in the early 1980s; he previously owned a carbide sharpening business. Dick convinced Paul that Sharp Tool did a good job at manufacturing and service but needed to put more emphasis on marketing and sales, and he also helped guide the company to develop a stronger presence in the pallet industry.
In conjunction with its increased marketing efforts to the pallet industry, Sharp Tool developed a strob saw blade marketing strategy that became widely popular in pallet and primary lumber manufacturing businesses.
The company’s increased emphasis on marketing to the pallet industry helped grow Sharp Tool beyond New England as it began supplying and serving businesses in core pallet industry states, such as Missouri and Ohio. Eventually it reached even further, marketing and selling to forest products firms in South America.
In addition to advertising, Sharp Tool marketed itself by direct mail. It sent out several thousand pieces of sales literature on a monthly basis. It also began using sales and marketing tactics that, at the time, were unheard of among saw blade manufacturers. One such tactic was offering two free blades for a regular order of 20 blades.
As Sharp Tool grew, Paul invested regularly in high quality equipment the company required for its manufacturing and service operations.
Sharp Tool uses high quality raw materials. Saw plate, for example, is high-content nickel steel. Steel for chipper knives is modified A-8 high-chrome, an industry standard.
Sharp Tool today boasts an extensive catalogue of products. In the band saw line, for example, it supplies bands, band saw blades, bi-metal band saw blades, carbon band saw blades, wide band saw blades.
Circular saw blade products include blades for gang saws, mitre saws, nail cutting saws, panel saws, radial arm saws, rip saws, sash gang saws, slasher saws, table saws, trim saws, and more. Variations include carbide tipped blades, thin-kerf blades, strob blades, inserted tooth blades, and much more.
Carbide products include carbide, carbide blanks, carbide STB bars, carbide strips, carbide tips, preformed carbide, saw teeth and tips, and untinned, pretinned and pretinning carbide. An extensive variety of carbide can be pre-tinned and shipped within 24 hours.
All Sharp Tools industrial carbide tipped circular saws are made of high quality nickel steel, laser cut and surface ground to within .001 of an inch. Center holes are reamed .001 oversized to ensure an exact fit.
Saws are tipped with the correct grade of carbide for the specific application (Glue Line, Green Lumber, Solid Surface, Counter Top, Plastic or Metal Cutting). Finish grinding is performed on automatic saw grinders to ensure consistent quality.
Sharp Tool offers its own line of carbide-tipped saw teeth and has pre-tinning operations. In pre-tinning, silver is fixed to each carbide tooth. Trays of teeth are put into a furnace, and the heat melts the silver solder to the carbide. Wood products businesses and saw blade companies that buy the pre-tinned carbide teeth attach them to saw blades by brazing; the presence of the silver solder is a prerequisite for good brazing. Sharp Tool makes an estimated 100,000 of the pre-tinned carbide teeth weekly, according to Paul. "It’s getting to be a big part of our business."
Sharp’s staff is a skilled team of manufacturing and customer service employees who understand the saws, knives, grinding equipment and related supplies. The personnel who work with customers on orders are trained to provide knowledgeable advice and recommend top quality products.
In addition to remanufacturing and sharpening blades, Sharp Tool technicians can provide other services, such as mill alignments, consulting, and evaluations of through-put. They will provide services to install used band mills, which are available through Sharp Tool. The company’s technicians also provide services to grind wheels for band saws.
The "heart and soul" of the company’s office is office manager Ana Cintron, who has been with the company for 12 years. Other key office personnel are Jay and Dick. "My people are key here," added Paul. "I have great people all around me."
As important as Sharp Tool’s office staff and sales representatives are, so is the staff of technicians in its manufacturing and service operations. "Our service technicians have a lot of ability," said Paul.
"We just keep refining our manufacturing process," he added, and the company continues to invest in new manufacturing technology. In manufacturing, two brothers have more than two decades each of service in the company. Noel Aviles, who has been with the company 25 years, is a technician and saw smith who performs most plant maintenance; Anibal Aviles, with 23 years, oversees most circular saw blade manufacturing operations.
The company’s Web site, located on the Internet at www.sharptool.com, allows visitors to shop for products and order them online. A complete catalogue of products is available online.
For more information on Sharp Tool or its products or services, contact the company at (800) 221-5452, fax (978) 568-9497, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Web site at www.sharptool.com.
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