Jake Lucas doesn’t work in the spotlight, and that’s the way he likes it.
“I prefer being behind the scenes,” Jake said. “I don’t need the glory or the spotlight, I just want to make sure I do the job and do it well.”
In his role as Operations Manager at Breiner Non-Metallics, Jake has his hand in just about everything around the office and shop. From handling purchasing, managing daily operations, and working directly with the foreman and shop workers to make sure every job goes smoothly.
Around Breiner, he is known as the “Executioner”. Not because if you screw up heads will roll, but because if something needs done, he’s the man to take care of it.
In a lot of ways, Jake is a reflection of Breiner’s work and products themselves. They may not get much attention, but you better believe they are there making things happen.
“The things we do here may be small and behind the scenes, but they are crucial,” Jake said. “We make the things that make things go… that you don’t even know about.
“We are keeping our Navy and our country safe with our products and services. It’s stuff like that we are proud of and love to tell people about.”
The younger brother of Breiner president Joe Lucas, Jake has also been an instrumental part of changing the culture of the company along with Joe.
The goal of the Lucas brothers is to make the importance of every employee equal across the board, break down barriers, and encourage collaboration and discussion. This, Jake says, is the key to taking Breiner to new heights.
“We want to encourage people to speak up,” Jake said. “Promoting a culture of openness and communication brings in new ideas and lets us try new things. Even if they don’t work out, every shortcoming is an opportunity to learn and grow.”
Breiner has begun a reward system for employees reaching daily goals and assisting others reach theirs. Everybody lends a hand around the shop.
Although Jake shares the same vision of Breiner as Joe, their path to Breiner was very different.
They both helped with Breiner during the summers, but neither were ever forced or corralled into following into the family business. Jake instead followed his passion and love for farming and agriculture after high school. For more than 10 years, Jake worked on farms and for a farmer’s Co-Op.
Jake claims that many of the leadership traits that he uses as the Operations Manager he learned on the farm.
However, after several years, Jake returned to Breiner as a Sales Manager, seeking to find some better stability as he started his own family, a place to apply his unique skills, and learn new ones as he reentered the family business.
Since then, Jake has helped take Breiner to new heights.
“Having seen where things were and the way we are headed now is really rewarding,” Jake said. “Even just 5 years ago things were completely different.”
Outside of Breiner, Jake still enjoys the great outdoors. Married to his wife, Sabrina, since 2003, Jake has two children who he spends a great deal of time with. The family loves to camp, raising their new chickens (they soon plan on buying a couple cows), and he has even been their baseball and soccer coaches. The family has also been working on remodeling and landscaping their new home in Danville.
As for Jake, he is a pretty typical Hoosier. He loves the Colts, supporting them through thick and thin, watches Purdue football and basketball and volunteers at his church weekly, walking alongside pople who need someone to listen too.
Jake is just one of the many people around Breiner, working to do incredible things. If you have a unique problem, Breiner can be your solution. Stop by, meet the folks behind the scenes and learn what Breiner can create for you.
Breiner Non-Metallics is committed to utilizing the most current and efficient equipment and techniques for our manufacturing processes. This commitment allows us to take on new and unique tasks for our customers and deliver results faster, more efficiently, and at a lower cost.
One such example occurred in May 2016 shortly after we had purchased a new piece of equipment called a Flashcutter. A Flashcutter is, essentially, an Exacto knife on steroids and allows for dieless cutting of non-metallic materials.
We put the Flashcutter to use on a seemingly simple order. The story of this order soon became full of twists and turns that would have cost our customer, and ourselves, an extraordinary amount of time and money if not for the capabilities of the newly Flashcutter.
Before we get into the details, let’s give a little background on the Flashcutter. It is a computer-controlled machine that can take any computer-aided design (CAD) 2D drawing and replicate the shape in any non-metallic material (rubber, plastic, foam, sponge, cork, compressed non-asbestos for example). The cutting is done with a high-speed oscillating knife on a 5′ x 10′ table. The Flashcutter allows us to produce parts for our customers without expensive steel rule dies, making it ideal for smaller quantity runs or even one off pieces.
On these small-run orders, traditional tooling can often cost more than the entire order. In addition, the Flashcutter nesting capabilities allow us to produce parts with less scrap, reducing our overall costs which can be passed along to our customers.
The first job we ran on the very first day we had the Flashcutter was a total of four pieces: two rings and two custom-shaped rings for a local customer. These parts were large rings, approximately 32″ in diameter, with very thin walls. The combination of large size with thin cross section makes these a challenge to produce, especially as one-offs.
In the time before we received our Flashcutter, our tool and die department would have had to cut these by hand based on the configuration and quantity. If we went the “build-a-tool” route, the dies would far outweigh the cost of the gaskets themselves. Our production time would have taken 1 hour to complete each part. This would result in tool and die department being tied up for half the day.
Utilizing the Flashcutter, we were able to draw the 2 rings and 2 complex shapes in CAD in 20 minutes and 6 minutes after that we had the 4 parts cut and ready to ship.Due to the customer’s requirements, we hand delivered the hot parts to our customer’s facility that same afternoon.
Redoing the Order
As it turned out, our work was not done. The customer called at 9:00 a.m. the next morning. They had sent the wrong drawing for the custom gasket and needed to replace these two immediately. The customer sent the updated drawing and sent a driver at the same time. The parts were programmed and cut before the driver arrived at 9:45 a.m.
Another satisfied customer and two hours of shop production time saved. Success! Or so we thought.
Redoing the Order… Again
But, you guessed it, at 1:00 pm the customer called again. They once again had sent invalid drawings and needed the corrected parts as soon as possible. New drawings were sent, again, and a driver dispatched, again.
Thanks to the speed and efficiency of the Flashcutter, Breiner had the third set of gaskets completed within minutes. After all that, the customer was still able to ship by the end of the day as required.
The quick turnaround and high accuracy of our new equipment bailed out not only our customer but us as well. We were able to turn the parts much quicker and saved a full 8 hours of our production time over the two-day stretch.
Our philosophy is to give the customer exactly what they want, when they want it. In some cases, that requires same day service, sometimes even “while-you-wait” service. The Flashcutter has allowed us to complete much more complex and previously time-consuming jobs that meet our customer’s needs. It allows us to work with new projects, perform research and development, and create prototypes with the ability to easily make adjustments as the parts develop without the expense of new tooling each time.
There are still plenty of jobs that run on steel-rule dies in our presses, but the Flashcutter has opened up a whole new avenue for us to be even more customer focused.
If you need a custom part that requires high skill and accuracy to produce, let Breiner Non-Metallics be your solution. Our vast experience in a variety of industries gives us the knowledge to take on any project – even if you need us to run it a few times.
Joe Lucas has only been at the helm of Breiner Non-Metallics since 2014, but his investment in the company stretches back much further than that.
“I started out doing accounting for the company with my mother at home when I was 14 years old,” Joe said. “So, I guess I’ve been at this for more than 30 years.”
Breiner became a Lucas-family institution back when it was purchased by Bill Lucas Sr. in 1961. 3 generations later, there has been a Lucas leading the way.
Although many may not see die cutting as a sexy subject, Joe doesn’t see it that way. He believes that what Breiner does is not only vital, but in some regards downright incredible. His reasoning? Gaskets.
“Anywhere two things join together, there’s a gasket,” Joe explained. “This fact allows a small, family-owned company on the west side of Indianapolis to be a part of the International Space Station and the Eiffel Tower. It is pretty unbelievable.”
From his days of doing accounting at home, Joe spent his summers on the Breiner shop floor, learning the ins and outs of production and the business side of things, running special projects, accounting and computer programming – which is where, he says, his heart still lies.
In fact, his expertise in programming turned Joe into the mastermind behind one of the most unique aspects about Breiner: its computer system. Joe is responsible for developing and writing the software that is used throughout Breiner, meeting all the needs and requirements of the company.
“Funny enough, the idea came from me just being tired of having to get up to find the information I needed,” Joe said. “We used to organize everything on file cards, so if you needed information you would have to go to each individual department directly. I wanted to create a database to help organize Breiner and make it more efficient.”
Another thing that sets Breiner apart in Joe’s mind is that because of its smaller size, Breiner can be bold and make changes without having to push different departments and ruffle feathers. This allows Breiner to try new and exciting things and branch into new areas of business and development.
This kind of creative and new style of thinking is something that Joe has held in high regard since taking over in 2014 as he leads Breiner in a transition from a traditional style manufacturing business. He is leading by example, you could say.
Born and raised in Danville, Joe has pursued his two greatest passions, space and music, to Purdue where he completed his education. These two passions have also led to two remarkable accomplishments in his life.
A self-declared “longtime space nerd”, Joe explained his “claim to fame” was successfully landing a space shuttle. No, really!
A short time before NASA suspended the shuttle program, Joe had the opportunity to participate in flying a space shuttle landing and launch using the same full-motion training simulator the astronauts used to hone their skills. The landing was a complete success!
His other passion, music, started with picking up the tenor sax in 5th-grade band. Since then, he went on to lead the tenor section in the Purdue marching band. Today, Joe plays as a member of the Indy Eleven pep band.
Joe may be the face of Breiner, but he is just one of many of the folks at Breiner that do amazing things each and every day, making this company so special. Make sure you stop by the office or catch Joe at the next Indy Eleven game, say ‘hello’ and learn what Breiner can create for you.
Great customer service sounds like such a cliché. We hear it all the time. Everyone says they strive for it. Most think they provide it to their customers (whether those customers are internal or external). Great customer service, however, can mean different things depending on the customer’s point-of-view. Great customer service is personal. How does it make one’s life better?
So what is great customer service? On-time deliveries may be the number one priority for one company while low rejection rates may be more important to another. Some want constant communication while others may seek combined invoices for reduced paperwork.
When you go out for dinner, what makes for great service? Is it being greeted by the manager who remembers your name or is it getting your complicated order perfect? Is it having the bill match exactly with what you ordered or is it simply the server not sticking his thumb in your drink? Great customer service is different to each person and it should exceed your expectations. But without knowing your expectations, how can those expectations be exceeded?
Recently, a customer shared with us that we are never discussed in their weekly production meetings. At first, we were a bit panicked and caught off guard. We thought we were doing everything right.
“Why don’t they talk about us?”
“What are we doing wrong?”
“How can we improve?”
When we asked why they don’t talk about us, they said it was because we were doing nothing wrong. No late deliveries. No quality rejections. No problems. They were thrilled that they never have to talk about us. They wish that all of their vendors did what we do. For this customer, it’s simple: they want a die cutter which will deliver when they say they will deliver, no rejections, and be competitive on price.
So how is this personal? They were able to sit in the production meetings without having to answer why they were the reason parts could not be assembled. From a personal level, we make buyer’s life easier.
At Breiner, we are tremendously flexible. We can offer 20 or 30 or 50 options that we think might allow us to exceed your expectations. But we’d rather get to know you. Get to know your company. Exceeding expectations is personal. How can we give you one less thing to worry about?
At The Breiner Company, we are a non-metallic die cutting job shop. Unless you are familiar with this industry, you probably have no clear idea of what that means. So, you might wonder, what does that really mean? Let’s break it down:
- Non-metallic – Our focus is on almost any materials that come in sheets or rolls that is not metal. The materials we most often use are rubber (Buna-S & Nitrile), sponge rubber, neoprene, silicone, felt, foam, and compressed non-asbestos. We also make a great variety of parts from cork, vegetable fibre, beater addition sheet, PTFE, EPDM, graphite sheet, and even leather. We stock a number of brand specific materials like Garlock™, Klinger™, Teflon®, Lexan®, Nomex®, Formex®, Kapton®, Mylar®, and Poron®. So, if it is flat and not metal, think of The Breiner Company!
- Die Cutting – Die cutting is the process of taking steel rules (a flat, thin piece of steel sharpened along one edge) that are formed or assembled as a tool in the shape of the part to be cut. In laymen’s terms, it is a lot like a cookie cutter. Once the tool is created, it is installed onto a press, the material is inserted (either under or over the steel rule die, depending on the type of press), and the part is cut from the material.
- Job Shop – A job shop is a fabrication facility that makes many different types of products at the customer’s request. We are contracted by our customers to cut the type of parts that they want, at the specific quantity that they want, delivered when they want them. Parts that we have made over the years have been used in multiple industries: defense, medical, aerospace, automotive, agriculture, machinery & equipment builders, and pump manufacturers. We have also worked a great deal with distributors and maintenance departments. We do not have a product of our own, at least not yet (more to come on that another day).
Now that you know a little bit more of what we do, who are we really? We are a customer driven company. But everyone says that! Yes, a lot of companies look at themselves in this fashion and write it into their mission statement and maybe even into their quality policy. At the end of the day, it is not a mantra or a slogan or a creed…it is an action. We act upon this very principle each and every day. We love to show it in action.
For example, we close our shop around the holidays each year. In 2015, we were able to get caught up enough on orders due in early January that we were able to be closed after December 18th until the new year, giving our employees a much deserved break. On Monday, December 21st, Joe & Jake were in to handle a few administrative items they wanted to clear up before the new year. A customer who buys once in a great moon called and needed a rushed part – they had a tanker truck that needed to be completed by the end of the year. We had never made the part before. They had no print. They needed a quantity of one. So, they brought the part needing replaced to The Breiner Company and Jake had it ready for the customer within the hour.
Does that sound a little bit like bragging? I hope so, because it is. Our daily routine is reacting in this manner, regardless of the customer’s size and history with us, to help them remove one less worry off of their plate. We pride ourselves on being easy to work with.
It‘s who we are!
In our previous (and first) post, we mentioned that the new website was up and running. We are excited about how it has turned out and would love to share it in a little more detail. There are several non-metallic die cutters and gasket producers in the world. Although we are a bit biased, we feel like our new website is like our customer service…right there at the top!
As noted in the title, you can find us at www.breinerco.com. Our website is similar, in many respects, to a ton of websites you might find on the web. And, with a cursory glance at the site, you may think it is well done, has nice colors, and has a conversational tone. We hope everyone who visits thinks these things. However, let’s dig a little deeper to see what is really there.
Our story is unique. We have been in business for over 70 years, family owned for over 50 years, and now owned by a third generation. And we are just beginning!!
We service a great variety of industries: Medical, Automotive, Pipe/Pump/Filtration, Defense, Aerospace, OEM, MRO, and more. While it may seem like we just make gaskets or custom rubber seals, we see our role much differently. We know what we do has a much deeper meaning to it.
This turned out to be my favorite page of the site. Many sites in our industry offer a materials page, but few allow you to sort and filter to find just the right material like ours does. It can’t be explained. It needs to be seen.
This page is a photo gallery. It shows a few examples of parts we have produced and will be a work in progress as we move forward. So far, we have examples of EPDM, Natural Rubber, Kapton®, Klinger™, Garlock™, and Vegetable Fiber parts from the Automotive, Electronics, Medical, Agricultural, and Piping industries.
We initially set out to design the site on our own. After seemingly being busy for months on end, we decided to find someone to do the site for us. While I am sure that there are many great website design companies out there, we worked with Roundpeg in Indianapolis. The efforts made by the Roundpeg team were fantastic and I would highly recommend them. Each time we had a new idea, they ran with it and stepped it up a notch from what we had even imagined.
In the end, we are excited about the website and the direction which we are heading as a company. Actually, in the end, this is just the beginning!!
Die cutting itself has been around since the late 19th century. Not too much has changed. The Breiner Company has been in business since the mid-1940s. So just how much could be different in just a year, you might ask?
- State-of-the-art CNC Cutting Capabilities
- New Atom Beam Press
- Emphasis on Lean Manufacturing and 5S
- Revamped Shop Scheduling System
- Exterior of the Building Painted
- Completely New Website
- Name Rebranding from The Breiner Company to Breiner Non-Metallics
And those are just the highlights.
At Breiner Non-Metallics, we are certainly proud of where we have been, there is no questioning that. But we are looking towards the future and embracing the opportunity to breathe new life into the die cutting industry. However, we are not taking the same path of many of our competitors. Or, for that matter, the path that we had been traveling until recently.
The new website, www.breinerco.com, is a perfect example of our new direction. We are introducing this website, built from the ground up, which is sure to be visually appealing as well as educational. Our materials page is designed to assist in searching for just the right material for your seal, gasket, or custom parts.
On a daily basis, we are challenging ourselves to be smarter/leaner/faster/quicker: smarter quoting, leaner internal processing, faster from order to shipment, quicker job set-ups. All of this is in an effort to respond to customer needs. Nobody wants to buy huge quantities that take six months to a year to run through. We all prefer to buy only what we need and get it only when we want it. All of our decisions over this past year has led us to producing what is needed, when it is needed, and delivering it on-time.
While change is fun and exciting, and we sure have had plenty of fun and excitement this year, the foundation of Breiner Non-Metallics has not swayed. That foundation is its people. With a combined 230 years of experience in producing parts out of rubber, plastic, felt, foam, and many other materials, we are more of a family than a group of co-workers. When people care about the person next to them, it resonates through everything they do. And although they may not see it, the customer experiences it.
Breiner Non-Metallics has been around for over 70 years. We can say this much…70 has never felt so good!! And we can’t wait to see what the next year holds!