Prineville business features state of the art automated machine shop
Dec. 13, 2021, was a proud day for the Brian Morisette family, as a large crane unloaded a 10-ton CNC machine to their business on Murphy Court.
Brian Morisette, president of Morisette Manufacturing, Inc., indicated that the large piece of equipment represented 13 years of arduous work, and was a culmination of the efforts of his family's business since it was established in 2009. Morisette was beaming when the truck arrived to begin the process of placing the CNC equipment, manufactured by Okuma, into his shop.
Morisette is a Crook County High School alumni and emphasized that young people who wish to be an entrepreneur have options in their own community.
"You don't necessarily have to leave the area to have a career," he emphasized.
He took computer classes and shop classes during high school, including the manufacturing and graphic art courses. He went through the manufacturing program at Central Oregon Community College. After graduating from college, he worked in a high-end manufacturing machine shop in Madras for 16 years, where he received a background in machining and programming prior to starting his own business.
In 2008, Morisette found himself unemployed. He began his CNC machining services business to create a job to support his family. His oldest son was only months old, and his wife was a stay-at-home mom. The couple have three children.
"I didn't start it as an entrepreneur, I started it as a necessity to have a job to support our family. I was hoping for a day like today -- you never know what your success is going to be unless you try," Morisette pointed out.
He shared that they started out at zero: zero sales, contacts, and leads. He emphasized that they were taking a risk, but they wanted to create a business where people would want to come back.
"We wanted to be dependable, fair-priced, on time — the things that people look for with customer service."
He added that all of his customers have strong demand, and Morisette Manufacturing Inc. is a component manufacturer. Their customers can choose from his business or a variety of other machine shops that have the same capabilities.
"We just wanted to create an atmosphere — we have kept it a family business for one thing, and people enjoy buying from family businesses."
He stressed that they wanted to make certain that they kept that mark of dependability to ensure that their customers would repeat their business.
He went on to explain that they also started out small, with used equipment.
"The shop now is not as simple as it was when we started. We started out with used equipment. We started inexpensively."
In looking back, the first six months of their business they had not gained their first client yet at the six-month mark. Morisette is a prototype machinist, and one of the accounts that he hoped to pick up asked him to prototype a part. After making it in 24 hours, the engineer, who was also the owner of the company, was pleased.
In his front office, Morisette and his wife, Krystal, have a display case to showcase a variety of parts that he has designed and machined.
"That is one of the biggest questions everybody has, is what can you make? I tell them to come in and look at the display case," explained Krystal of the importance of the case.
Krystal also works in the office and helps Brian on a regular basis in the shop. The couple have built their business without any other employees and have worked hard to reach the point in time when they could get the new CNC equipment.
"This project is 13 years in the making," said Brian. "My goal for this was this year, and the accountant encouraged us to do it last year."
He explained that with the need to have it all in place by Dec. 31, they had to bump up the process of getting the shop ready for the new CNC equipment. The day it was delivered, Dec. 13, was exciting for the family. A heavy truck with a crane came with the new machinery, and Morisette worked with the manufacturer for the next three weeks putting it into place, getting it set up, and training on the new equipment.
"This piece of equipment means hopefully, for our family, that we get a day off one of these days," he said with a smile.
The new equipment will run more continuously and longer at a time, and it will be more efficient. He added that it will also save labor time, since the couple works many holidays and long hours.
Over the 13 years since they established their business, they have made approximately three machinery purchases, which were designed to be labor reducing, overall. He added that is where industry is headed — which includes retail, in that they are trying to take away labor as much as possible.
"This was a place for me to work and working as a one-man shop — I have enjoyed it."
Morisette explained a CNC machine shop as a regular shop with lathes and mills with added automation that turns the handles instead of the operator.
"It's just an automated machine shop."
In his machine shop, he is a computer programmer. Sometimes components are pre-drawn, and sometimes he draws them. He puts them on his computer system and manipulates the tools to his satisfaction to create good parts. Then they are put through the machinery for more fine-tuning.
Morisette machines with aluminum, steel, brass, and copper — and what he refers to as garden variety metals. He said that what he has in his machine shop is remarkably similar to what you would see in a multi-million-dollar factory machine shop.
"They are definitely going to have more machinery, and they are going to have many, many employees," he said of the comparison and differences. "Your average single employee shop doesn't have quite as much as we have managed to get. We are very glad of the fact we have flipped this on its ear, and we have made a success story out of it."
In a tour though the business, Morisette demonstrated the many pieces of equipment that makes up his CNC machine shop. Some of the existing equipment includes a horizontal milling machine, vertical milling machine, lathe and mill-turn.
He explained that the new machine does the same tasks but is much more sophisticated. He described it as a six-pallet, 146-tool magazine, horizontal machining center. He cut his own tombstone for one of the pallets, which is a workbench to hold the parts for fixtures. The pallet-changer and the tool-changer are also part of the operation of the machining center. Eventually, he will have five similar pallets and tombstones pre-programmed for future jobs.
"It is such a slick set up, and I have never found anything that I like better," concluded Morisette. "Including being able to put your work on there and have the machine know where everything is at. When I put all the work into getting this in and programmed up, it's a lot of work. At the end of that first run, I have all that information saved."
Morisette Manufacturing Inc.
Owner and president: Brian Morisette
1417 NW Murphy Ct.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.