SAN FRANCISCO, CA - If you have a machine shop in America, you have a problem. There are thousands like you. Many are going under or about to, their machines idle, operators laid off, victims of large scale decline in domestic manufacturing.
What do you do? If you are Titan Gilroy, you appeal to America.
The burly and tattooed Titan, who gives his name to his business, looks every bit like the fighter he once was. A one time serious amateur boxer, it was street fighting that got him in trouble with the law (he served 3 years in prison). Somehow he ends up owning a machine shop in California's gold country. If that is not enough of a career twist, he is also now in the media business.
Titan Media has produced TV show and lined up Autodesk to throw VIP party to launch its premiere show, in which the Titan story is told.
Titan is perfect for adding the role of restoring pride in his country. Citing America at least one a sentence, he combines the fervor of a evangelical preacher with the beat of a Detroit rapper. The crowd in the Autodesk Gallerey is lapping it up. It may be that the show tells a good story or that the room is stocked with Titan employees, but whoops and hollers abound. We see how Titan's shop makes gun parts, his bullied youth, the boxing, a redemption by the Lord after the bout in prison.
Titan Gilroy with Roopinder from the local liberal San Francisco press
It is a hell of a story. To hear it well received in ultra liberal San Francisco is a bit of a surprise.
With a "Fight for America" on his t-shirt, Titan is on a mission to not just keep his machine shop open, but to bring American manufacturing back to the forefront. It could tie into the buying local movement, which the San Francisco area has taken to heart, albeit for food. Why not buy locally made products? Yes, they cost more. But they keep guys like Titan and his employees employed. Off the streets. Off welfare.
If business is an indication (company was expected to top $6M in revenue in 2008, according to a Wall Street Journal article on the Titan America website), Titan America does seem to be doing something right with its precision machining of high-value parts. In the video, we see Titan take on an order for hundreds of parts for thermal imaging rifle scope. Customer needs them by Thursday. Titan runs his machine shop around the clock and makes his employees do whatever it takes to produce the parts. We see one machinist almost getting fired after ramming a tool into a part causing a production delay. The parts are delivered almost on time. The machinist not fired (was actually spotted applauding during the premiere). A happy ending.
It remains to be seen if the concept could work well for manufacturing as volumes of mass production, which is the strength of overseas manufacturing, notably that in China. Though Titan's shop is stocked with state of the art CNC machines and with an over abundance of American pride, there is still the reality of paying the American worker 10 times more than a Chinese worker. The Titan operation works well for high value parts (the scope housing was $8K each) and with ultra-demanding schedules, when the customers are from the military, aerospace and medicine.
But what if your customer is a Wal-Mart shopper?
For more information
Titan American Built - TV series, Fridays at 7pm, on MAVTV, available on Dish and DirecTV
Titan American Built Premier: The Fight for American Manufacturing - Sharon Stark, 3DPrint Press, Oct 26, 2014
Grass Valley Manufacturing Titan Featured in New TV Series - Mark Glover, Sacramento Bee, Oct 24, 2014
A Tale of a Young Boxer's Redemption - Dennis Nishi, Wall Street Journal, Dec 2, 2008