Matt Anderson, president and CEO of Anderson Manufacturing Inc., holds the trophy and a blown-up representation of a $20,000 check he received as winner of the New Venture Competition at Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne.
The Serra Jaw is designed for CNC (computer numerical control) machines. It goes inside CNC machines and allows you to grip onto any piece of machining stock without the need for complicated setup.
Anderson Manufacturing started in 2015 as a CNC “chop” shop. We just do random jobs, and over the years, we probably have had hundreds of different customers with a few main customers that bring repeat business.
We have gravitated to more and more designing and manufacturing of innovative work holding solutions. We design and make easy fixtures and fixturing to allow people to grab onto different-sized pieces of material for machining.
I work for a company here in Fort Wayne called Bad Dad where we design and manufacture aftermarket motorcycle parts.
I started Anderson Manufacturing just with the idea that I knew some people who needed a few parts made and I was going to make some beer money on nights and weekends.
I was spending more time fixturing these parts than machining these parts, so I decided I needed to find a solution to grab onto all these different parts without needing to tear down my setup every time.
I’m kind of big on social media and post a lot of pictures, so people saw what I was doing with the Serra Jaw and the different versions of it. They started asking where I got them and said I made them. Then they asked if I could make some for them.
I was doing everything myself, and it wasn’t until I started doing Serra Jaws that I needed help. Now I have some people who help on weekends.
We have nine different versions of it for different setups. If we ever come across a version we don’t have that a customer needs, we typically will make it and then offer that version for sale as well.
What are some of the things you think the New Venture Competition judges liked the most about Anderson Manufacturing, and what was it like to win that Ivy Tech Community College competition?
I think they mostly enjoyed my passion for what I did. Everyone liked what they did but I was passionate about my job and I knew everything about my product from its design and how it’s manufactured to its salability and how I sold it.
I think they also liked the fact that it was an idea that didn’t exist anywhere else in the world and it was made and done right here in Fort Wayne — that I’d created something the world needed.
I definitely was overjoyed about the contest; it’s really tough to describe the feeling. I wasn’t surprised, but was incredibly elated to see the hard work and everything pay off.
I’m going to do some investment in automating all of our processes, getting a bigger laser that does more pieces, an automated surface grinder and a quick change vacuum pallet system. The automation will allow me to do more design work.
The idea that you’ve created something that didn’t exist brings an adrenalin rush, and it’s nice to know what we’re doing truly helps people. And we know that when we see repeat customers.
What moments stand out with the startup last year and the development of Anderson Manufacturing so far?
It was in the early spring of last year when we launched the website and early that year or late the previous fall when people started asking for them and it hit us that it might be a sellable product.
Consistency is probably one of the biggest things because there are days when you just want to give up. That and always trying to move forward — it doesn’t matter how small the step is. Make your product and make it as good as you can.
CNC Non-metal Machining Parts
Education: Graduated from Huntington North High School with dual credits in machine trades, which he transferred to Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne where he earned an associate’s degree in automotive technology.
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