Liberty Engineering and Machine finds equipment, expertise at RCBI
Liberty Engineering and Machine Inc. is a custom job shop located in Craigsville, W.Va., that specializes in CNC machining, industrial machining and metal fabrication services. In its first year of operation, the company has partnered with a regional company to help with sales of its products and services.
Ralph Smoot, the person leading the company, has an extensive background in specialty machining and fabrication. Smoot, who previously owned a precision machine shop in the Philadelphia area that specialized in the medical device and aerospace industries, said he moved to Craigsville last year to start another machine shop with a partner. He also wanted to be near his family, which has longstanding ties to Webster and Nicholas counties.
After coming to West Virginia Smoot said he was pleasantly surprised to learn about RCBI's leading edge production and prototyping equipment.
"Not only did I discover there was advanced manufacturing equipment available for use, there was a very knowledgeable staff that was very open and helpful," he said. "The combination of their specific knowledge, and our own highly skilled staff made us productive very quickly."
Liberty recently turned to RCBI in Bridgeport to help manufacture two different prototyping projects.
"We were able to utilize two of RCBI's Large CNC lathes, and their HAAS CNC mill capacity in Bridgeport when we did not have adequate capacity to produce the work in-house," Smoot said. He said this proved to be critical.
"When you are a small shop such as ours and you want to get an idea to market, or you need to satisfy a customer’s demand quickly, having that capacity and knowledge readily available can make the difference between success and failure," Smoot said. "Getting new ideas to market on an aggressive schedule can also be cost prohibitive. The cost of utilizing RCBI's resources was affordable.
"We plan on utilizing RCBI's machines and services for other prototyping, and production work, particularly when it would otherwise negatively impact our normal operations."
Smoot noted that one of their prototype products, which is an industrial safety component, has been well received. He anticipates the initial buyers will provide feedback on the product, which then should lead to even greater sales.
Smoot also praised the training assistance his company has received from Workforce West Virginia, RCBI and other organizations. With this assistance, his company recently was able to hire and train three local people.
"They were eager to help, and easy to work with," Smoot said. "Collectively, they helped us navigate several state and federal training programs available to us. We would not have been able to get off the ground so quickly otherwise."