Making It In Northern Michigan: Dynatect

MakingIt3Like a lot of manufacturing companies, Dynatect Lead Screws International specializes in one major product that dominates its production line.

“We make ball screws,” explained General Manager George Hamzik. “We fill a pretty particular niche. A majority of our work is for machine tools. We’re not a catalog shop. We do reverse engineering and a lot of custom work.”

The Dynatect plant in Garfield Township began in the 1980s as Lead Screw International, or LSI, specializing in ball screws. In 2013, LSI was acquired by Dynatect Lead Screws International, a 65-year-old company headquartered in New Berlin, Wisconsin. With tens of thousands of worldwide clients and a library of more than 500,000 products, Dynatect is a major player in manufacturing with seven plants and two distribution centers.

While those in manufacturing know the importance of ball screws, the general public may not realize the vital role they play in a number of industries. A ball screw translates rotational motion to linear motion with very little friction. A threaded shaft provides a pathway for ball bearings, which act as a precision screw. In addition to being able to apply and withstand high loads, they do so with minimum internal friction. They are made to extremely close tolerances – often to .001 of an inch – and therefore suitable in a wide variety of high precision situations.

Dynatect’s ball screws are used in the automotive industry, the oil and gas industry, production lines and by a number of manufacturing companies. Their diameters run from ¾-inch to 6 inches. They range in length from about six inches up to a whopping 54-footer used in the oil and gas industry – it takes four weeks of precision work to produce one of those pieces. Every month for more than a year, Dyntect’s team crates up and ships one of the huge pieces to Houston.

“When people need something big, they come to us,” said Hamzik.

Tucked quietly off Hammond Road just west of where it intersects with Three Mile Road, Dynatect currently has 29 employees, 20 of them in production and the rest in the office or as supervisors.

“We’re a local company that does global business,” said Hamzik. “I don’t think a lot of folks know we’re here.”

But their customers know – and rely on – Dynatect. For example, when a Toyota factory in Kentucky desperately needed a 4-inch ball screw for a broaching machine, they sent a driver up to Traverse City. Dynatect handled the emergency and had the piece ready when the weary Toyota employee arrived.

The company has experienced steady, solid growth in recent years. Dynatect’s production schedule is pretty solid year around as well, though a recent slump in oil prices has impacted some of their manufacturing clients.

“Five years ago our sales were $3.5 million,” said Hamzik. “In 2014 it was $5.4 million. Year over year, it’s been good.”