This article by David Bertola originally appeared in Buffalo Business First.
Arrow Grinding Inc. recently shipped a set of steel pins to be used in an amusement park ride at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park in Orlando. Company President John Goller says he doesn’t always know the destination of the products made by his work force of 30, but it’s nice to find out once in a while. “Oftentimes we manufacture parts and don’t know where they end up,” he said. “It’s always interesting to learn where they go.”
The Disney pins were shipped Feb. 3. On Feb. 14, workers at the Tonawanda manufacturer wrapped up work on parts that will find their way to an MRI machine. Arrow Grinding also finish grinds various metals to close tolerances – that is, within .0002 inches. The company, whose revenues were just shy of $5 million last year, does so to meet the needs of customers that require pieces to be as accurate as possible. According to Goller, they sometimes need to fit into small places or slide in and out of a mechanism. Other Arrow parts have been installed in airplanes, including the engines and even the seats.
He wouldn’t mention the name of the company that approached Arrow about the steel and chrome-plated ride parts for Disney. He did say it was an operation he’d never heard of before. Being contacted by a client that has no experience with Arrow is nothing new. “We get requests from potential new customers every day,” Goller said, adding that it performs Blanchard, centerless, surface and cylindrical grinding. “That’s a testament to the capabilities we have here.”
He is an adviser to the board of the Buffalo Niagara Manufacturing Association, a trade group of area machinists looking to network and share best practices to combat the shortage of skilled labor. He said he doesn’t like hearing that the manufacturing sector is dying in Western New York. Referring to a recent headline that suggested a decline, Goller said, “That’s not true. Manufacturing in Western New York is a thriving sector and doesn’t get the credit it deserves. “There are a lot of skilled people in the area and a lot of people who do good work,” he added.
In addition, many area companies are looking to hire skilled workers. In an Oct. 28, 2011, article in Business First, Nathan Witkowski, department chair of industrial technology at Erie Community College, said: “There has to be well over 500 shops in the area, and they’re all looking to hire right now.” Among those shops is Goller’s, which is looking to add precision grinding positions.
Arrow Grinding ships items to Animal Kingdom Buffalo Business First