For businesses just as for people, time means everything. Time is telling. Time strengthens bonds. Time validates some visions while making others obsolete. As time passes on, we can reflect on lessons learned. While challenges act as a teacher, our successes have something to show us as well.
Arobotech Celebrates 40 Years as Industry Originators
On the occasion of our 40th anniversary, the Arobotech team has a chance to consider where we started, where we are, and the advances along the way. Our 4 decades of continued success warrant a bright light on the legacy we have built and the path to the future we are following.
There must be something in the air of the average American home. After all, hundreds of successful companies can trace their beginnings back to a drafting board placed next to a workbench in a garage or basement.
40 years ago, Arobotech founder Richard Lessway worked for a manufacturer of cylindrical parts. But Richard was plagued by the inefficiency, waste, and lack of innovation he saw throughout the manufacturing process.
One day, while playing with his son John (current Arobotech owner-operator), something about an old wooden block set sparked an idea. Those wooden blocks inspired a sliding wedge design that would allow for superior control, rigidity, and repeatability throughout the manufacturing process. Shortly afterward, while tinkering in his basement like so many innovators before and after him, Richard created the self-centering Auto Rest®.
With unwavering support from his wife Tricia, Richard founded AR Tooling, the beginnings of what would become Arobotech Systems today. Together, Richard and Tricia worked tirelessly out of their own home for those first crucial years. Their belief and hard work paid off as they gained a foothold in the cylindrical grinding industry, enabling the opening of their first office and manufacturing facility in Warren, MI.
The Invention That Changed Everything
Richard Lessway may not have known it at the time, but he was inventing more than the first prototype Steady Rest®—he was inventing an entire industry. Arobotech’s workholding technology has changed the way the world grinds and manufactures tools and parts—everything from automotive crankshafts to agriculture equipment, aerospace components to surgical implements.
Before our self-centering technology, margins of acceptable error were wider. Precision repeatability was non-existent. Even creating your own customized drill bit required days of trial and error, roughly equivalent to an expensive and time consuming roll of the dice.
Today, industries of all kinds rely on self-centering, follow-down workholding technology to enable better manufacturing when machining custom parts to within a .001mm tolerance. Naturally, as precision improved, so did the industries that required it.
In the 21st century, marketing is such a part of our everyday lives that we barely notice it. We’re primed to expect a sales pitch at all hours of the day. By achieving amazing results, Arobotech’s reputation grew to remarkable heights by word of mouth alone.
From the very beginning, our workholding products have promised a handful of benefits. A good Steady Rest or Auto Grinding Rest should:
- Reduce waste and scrap
- Improve the tool grinding/manufacturing process
- Permit precision repeatability
Our products did just that. Word of mouth propelled Arobotech to incredible heights and introduced international customers to a new way of manufacturing. As it turns out, when a product does what it says it will do, it achieves popularity quite quickly.
Five Generations of Precision Excellence
Generally speaking, engineers aren’t known for a “good enough” mentality. Our own engineers can barely keep themselves from drawing up prototype solutions on cocktail napkins for practical strangers at tradeshows.
At Arobotech, innovation is our passion. This is why, after the first ready-for-market Auto Rest® launched, our engineers simply could not become complacent. Fast forward 40 years and find the 5th Generation Grinding AUTO REST®—our most precise piece of workholding technology to date.
Arobotech Becomes Synonymous With “Steady Rest”
For most companies, the brand and the product are two halves of the same coin. But there are moments when innovation and popularity combine to such a degree that the brand becomes the product and vice versa.
When you sneeze, you don’t reach for a Kimberly-Clark—you reach for a Kleenex®. The same is true of Band-Aid® adhesive bandages or ChapStick® lip balms. The brand name can even become a verb for using the product, like in the case of Xerox® or Google. At Arobotech, we’re thrilled to enjoy the same synonymous relationship between company and product.
Industry professionals often ask for an “Arobotech” rather than a “Grinding Auto Rest®” or “Steady Rest®” specifically. As the industry standard, our brand and product have merged in the minds of customers, testimony of our product’s superior quality and durability.
A Dedicated Team
A strong product that does what it claims can take you far in business, but without a team of passionate professionals, you might lose steam around decades two or three. At Arobotech, our longevity is directly correlated to our people.
For our team, ultimate precision is a perennial goal. We’re powered by the pursuit of improvement—a game of millimeters and micrometers that lasts, in essence, forever. By listening to our customers and committing to better and better designs, we manage to take ten steps toward the next generation of precision workholding technology. But we can’t imagine that a time will ever come when we’re completely satisfied with our products.
Constant innovation and dedication from our team is the steam that’s kept us going for 40 years. It will keep us going for another 40 at least.
Products as Old as the Company
All things considered, longevity may be the greatest endorsement of any product. A product that only works for a while isn’t much of a product, after all.
Since our inception, we’ve stood by our workholding tech by offering repairs on older models for customers who have grown somewhat attached. Imagine our delight when we receive a 1st gen product for inspection that’s only just now started to fail.
For customers, the right tool can often assume the status of a trusted friend or family dog. For our team at Arobotech, these older models serve as tangible affirmations of the obstacles we have overcome, our dedication, and our company story as a whole.
Here’s to the Next 40 Years
Since that first moment of inspiration in 1982 right up to the present day, we’ve remained committed to Richard Lessway’s original vision. Now under the stewardship of John Lessway, we’re charting a path into the future of workholding technology, manufacturing, and precision repeatability.
But beyond all the legacy highlights we’ve already mentioned, there’s one more key factor in our success: you. Your trust has meant the world to us, but we know that trust is conditional. That’s why over the next 40 years, we will strive to keep your trust with each new product, each custom build, each repair, and each new step forward.
From the Arobotech family to yours, thanks for 40 years of memories!
You & your needs are part of our legacy. How can we help you today?
For custom workholding pieces, primed for longevity and precision in any industry, ask for an Arobotech by name! Our commitment to you and your needs hasn’t waned in 40 years, and we won’t slow down or compromise our dedication anytime soon. For more information about our products, or to create your own custom piece, call us today at (248) 588-9080 or contact us online.