And what is it exactly that this company does? It makes blades for bandsaws, buying blades in 500 foot rolls. As the orders come in for a particular type and length of blade, Metal Sawing measures, cuts and welds the ends together to make a continuous loop. The company ships its customers their custom made blades in seven hours. Metal Sawing also overhauls industrial cutting machines.
"My customers liked me," he says with a smile. "One of my customers set me up with our first warehouse. He let us use the ladies restroom in the back of his warehouse as a work area. This restroom measured about three feet by three feet and we worked out of it our first year."
The year 1989 offered substantial improvements in the office/warehouse complex of Metal Sawing Technology. Luke bought a building - a portable building - an OLD portable building. "It measured 18 by 7," he said, "and the roof blew off when we moved it. But we nailed it back on and moved in. The same customer who set us up in the ladies room let us use the back corner of his lot as a place to put our building."
One of the services Luke offers is the renovation of old cutting machinery. When he says rebuilding, that's exactly what he means. Every nut, bolt, screw, gasket, and seal is replaced. They even make new wiring harnesses. Every surface is stripped of paint, sanded, cleaned, and painted. Every part that can wear is replaced. "These are not high-tech machines," Luke comments, "but nobody - and I mean nobody - rebuilds them like we do. They look and perform like new."
However, due to the size of the old welder occupying the new building there was no place to do the first three major machine rebuilds Metal Sawing was requested to perform, so Luke bought a tent from the Army surplus store. The company dismantled, cleaned, sanded, reassembled and painted those machines in that tent...in the winter...at night. The fires built to generate enough heat to dry the paint also created a nice layer of ashes on the wet paint.
"This was a rough time," Luke said as he pointed out the photograph of the 18 by 7 foot building. "We sold during the day and built the machinery at night - sometimes by flashlight! Looking back now, it was pathetic!"
Metal Sawing Technology moved up and initiated representation of one of the finest blade manufacturers in the business. The line had a limited distribution and the manufacturer was very selective about awarding dealerships. In 1989, Luke decided that he absolutely had to be one of its distributors. He flew to California to call on the factory, and the manufacturers turned him down flat.
However, Luke is tremendously persistent and he finally convinced the factory representatives to come to Houston.
"They drove by our old building four or five times," he laughed. "They told me they thought it was somebody's storage place for junk...but they were polite when they walked in. I told them I would be their top distributor in two years and they gave it to me. It was a long time after that they told me how they laughed about our 'office'." Metal Sawing Technology soon became the number one distributor, just as Luke promised.
Luke's philosophy of pay-as-you-go continued as he bought the company's current building. He operates the company with no debt. "We just recently put in the carpet here," he said, "and we still use natural heat but we will install a heater this year!"
If that aspect of the business sounds primitive, the operations of the company are first rate. The company has a sophisticated computer network that Luke himself designed.
The people at Metal Sawing Technology make the best saw blades you can buy...in seven hours (soon to be four). They work hard --- They work late. They believe you can't succeed by working 8 to 5 and encumbered by debt. Metal Sawing Technology is a monument to the American dream.