Magazine honors Weaver Manufacturing

Weaver Manufacturing in Wichita has long believed successful companies are ones that measure their performance.

So it keeps track of a long list of key indicators and keeps working to improve them.

Those efforts led the company to be named one of the nation's top 10 machine shops by American Machinist magazine in November.

"We were very proud of the team that we have here, and we also appreciate all the support our customers and our supply base has given us as well," said Weaver vice president David May. "You never win an award like that without having an outstanding team."

The company tracks a long list of measures, such as inventory turnover, scrap rates, employee retention, training hours and machine efficiency.

"We constantly focus on improvement," May said.

Weaver employs about 130 people. Its largest customers are Cessna Aircraft, Goodrich, Boeing, Spirit AeroSystems and Northrop Grumman.

The company is fairly evenly divided across the general aviation, commercial and military markets.

Its focus is high-speed, complex machining of large parts, May said. The company can handle parts up to 240 inches long.

In the past three years, its revenue has doubled. The company expects to end the year with revenue up 25 percent from 2007, May said.

The company expects to be stable next year despite uncertainty in the economy, thanks to new work it won in the past month, he said.

At the same time, customers are evaluating the market and the impact the downturn could have on their rates, he said.

In the past two years, the company has invested $7 million in equipment. Part of that investment is for an automated pallet system.

"We'll load maybe 24 different jobs, and the pallet system will run all those jobs without us intervening," May said.

It can select the most efficient order in which to make the parts. The system is capable of running around the clock and is manned 20 hours a day.

Near every machine area is a "story board" that tracks part, pallet and job numbers, quantities, start and due dates, and any problems.

It gives "quick visibility of the activity inside the work center," May said. It also gives a main center of communication. If anyone needs help with tooling or from management, it can be tracked.

"It really is a communication hub of the area," May said.

Company history

Weaver was founded in 1942 when Buck Weaver started Weaver Engineering and Tooling. He began as a parts supplier to Clyde Cessna and Walter Beech.

"They all worked together and supported each other," May said.

Weaver has changed ownership twice since then. Brothers Tim and Dan Farrell have owned the company since 1984.

Weaver Manufacturing has two locations. The main office is at 1005 E. 17th St. and has undergone several expansions. In 2004, Weaver added a second manufacturing plant at 4261 S. West St. when it bought Gibbs Machine and Tooling.

Now, the company wants to build additional space at its West Street location in order to consolidate into one location.

"We're reviewing that right now," May said. No decision has been made on when to begin the project.