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Precision One’s Team Brings Home an SBA Win for Its Efforts

An Oceanside medical device manufacturer launched in the depths of the recession is proving the axiom that the best management teams know how to set a course and get out of the way.

Precision One Medical Inc. is among 17 companies and business people being recognized by the Small Business Administration San Diego District Office at this year’s Small Business Awards Breakfast June 11. The medical device business was named Small Business Team of the Year.

John Tyszka, who founded the business with four partners in late 2009, said the award’s name fits well because the main factor behind its success is the employees, not him or other managers.

“Some CEOs believe they’re responsible for the success of a company, but it’s never about management. It’s really about the team,” he said.

Precision One makes small components including dental implants, along with abutments and screws for those devices, and surgical pieces. From its start in those uncertain times, the company focused on quality, and not just being a supplier but a full partner to its customers, Tyszka said.

By that, the emphasis was on understanding customers’ needs to help them better, and locking in contracts over longer periods, he said.

“Instead of standard contracts on manufacturing where you’re doing everything from quote to quote [based on volume], our approach is ‘let’s be partners with these companies’… and lock in contracts for three years or more,” Tyszka said.

The strategy has apparently worked. From the firm’s first year when it did about $3 million in sales, Precision One more than tripled its revenue to $10 million last year. This year’s sales are on track to break $12 million, Tyszka said.

Retaining Skilled People Critical

The company’s workforce increased from the five partners to 85 people. Tyszka said he worked with Chip Prescott, his chief financial officer, and Steve Patterson, the chief operating officer, at a small family-owned machine shop, Allied Swiss, that was sold in 2006 to a private equity firm. While the new owners compensated the managers well, working at the new business didn’t give them the same feeling, prompting them to pool their savings and start Precision One.

Another reason behind the company’s surging sales is its commitment to lean manufacturing principles.

“It’s about making products and getting them into stock as quickly as possible with a minimum amount of nonvalued steps,” Tyszka said about the process popularized by Toyota Motor Corp.

But the biggest contributor to the company’s achievements is really about hiring and retaining quality machinists and other employees, he said.

“When you have the right people in the right roles, then success will happen,” he said.

Finding talented, skilled machinists isn’t that easy these days because there aren’t as many apprenticeship and training programs, so it behooves the business to retain the ones it hires, Tyszka said.

To that end, the company offers a fair benefits package that includes fully paid health insurance and shared bonuses when the business does well.

Since its launch, only one person has left the company voluntarily, and that was to fulfill his desire to work in a different field, Tyszka said.

As Precision One increased sales and employment, it needed larger quarters. In 2012, it bought a 45,000-square-foot building in Oceanside for $3.9 million, assisted by a $1.9 million SBA loan from JPMorgan Chase Bank.

Before the business moved, it was operating from five suites, so moving to a single building has improved its efficiency, Tyszka said.

Rise in Manufacturing Workforce

The company’s rapid growth mirrors what is happening to similar, precision manufacturers around the nation and in California. California manufacturers added about 13,000 jobs from February 2013 to February of this year to bring the total in all manufacturing segments to about 1.54 million, according to a report last month from Manufacturers News Inc., a trade magazine.

The most recent state employment report shows manufacturing jobs in San Diego County increased by 1,100 over the 12 months to April 2014, bringing the total jobs in that sector to 95,900.

Kelly Cunningham, an economist with National University System Institute for Policy Research, cited state data showing San Diego employment in the biomedical products segment increased 9 percent by the end of 2013 to 7,753.

“It’s a niche type of manufacturing that takes certain expertise … and seems to be growing both in San Diego and Tijuana,” Cunningham said.

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