We caught up with Brandon Esmaeilpour, of Axis Product Development. A long time customer of ours, Axis Product Development exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit. Shop Tour Video
Tell us a little bit about Axis Product Development, your team, what you do, and how you got started?
Axis Product Development started in a small residential garage back in 2017. As a mechanical engineer, I realized there was a crucial gap in the market when we could not find a machine shop that could deliver high quality prototypes with a quick turnaround time. Filling this gap went on to be the main goal of Axis Product Development. Currently we specialize in fast turn prototyping (6-9 calendar days) and low-mid volume production work. We are heavily involved in the EV industry as well as the aerospace/defense market.
Besides our measurable deliverables, our core values truly drive the company. Since day one, we have strived to provide exceptional customer service (yet another critical gap in our industry). While we have tried many marketing strategies, there has truly only been one instrument to our growth and that is customer referrals. Our goal is to set our customers up to succeed and we achieve that by being available for them every step of the way along with addressing any and all of their concerns proactively.
Growing a business can be difficult, did you ever second guess your decisions?
Same as for many other new businesses, gaining new customers was the biggest challenge. There have been times when we were faced with difficult decisions but were able to march forward by having a big picture goal in mind. Since opening Axis Product Development, we have been fortunate enough to experience an annual growth of 50%-70% and are lucky to say that we never had to second guess the decision to start this business.
What has been the most difficult aspect of your journey so far, and do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs?
Although expanding and purchasing new machines is always exciting, we always want to make sure that we are purchasing the right equipment and growing in the right direction. Making the wrong choice in regards to a machine, facility, or employee can set a business back years and affect future growth. My advice for making the best decision is looking forward another 10 years. Is this decision helping me reach the big picture goal or is it simply a short-term solution? Questions like these provide a safeguard to keep you on the right path. While this seems so simple, it can easily be ignored. At the end of the day though you need to whole heartedly believe in yourself and let your hard work and dedication take care of the rest.
However, few things in life are achieved individually. One piece of advice that I would give to any aspiring entrepreneur is that having the right business or life partner is priceless. In my case I have been lucky to have my wife helping me make right decisions every step of the way. It is always easier to tackle an issue using two sets of brains. A fresh set of eyes can really pick up on any blind spots and be an invaluable asset.
“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”
What kinds of materials do you work with, and do you have a favorite?
We work with a variety of materials from aluminum to plastics, stainless to titanium, and hardened steel to Inconel. We always get excited working on challenging projects with new materials. I would say our favorite material is titanium grade 5.
Tell us about the machinery used to create your custom parts, did you ever intend on learning to run CNC machinery?
We use a variety of machines to create our custom parts. Some of our machines include vertical mills (3,4, and 5th axis), dual spindle lathes with live tooling, and EDM machines. We are also hoping to expand to mill turn machines in the near future.
Fun fact, when I started this business, I barely even knew how to start a CNC machine. I decided to learn as I started the business.
Axis Product Development offers prototyping and 3-5 axis production, do you prefer low volume or larger runs and why?
Although we understand the value of keeping spindles running around the clock, by way of production runs, nothing beats the stress of delivering a complex prototype part in less than a week. We love that with every project comes new challenges and this diversity allows us to hone our skills and learn new tricks.
Do you have a favorite project on which you have worked?
Over the past few years, we have been involved in the development of various inverter chassis for electric vehicles. It has been extremely rewarding helping engineers test their designs and ultimately see these parts on prototype cars.
Axis Product Development is very active on social media, how has this shaped your business?
Yes, we try to be active on several platforms and have recently been involved in sponsoring college Formula 1 teams, one of which is the UCLA team. Through social media, we can connect with a variety of engineering students and help them learn about manufacturing.
Can you talk about a time that Octane Workholding products or support really came through and helped you?
We have been lucky to discover Octane Work holdings and try two of their products.
This product has saved us so much time. Cleaning the table is now the easiest task ever. We never have to worry about coolant splashing in our face because of a clogged T-slot. It was a great investment. We have this product on all our vertical milling centers.
This tool makes it extremely easy to hold parts to the table. We have used it on a variety of steel and aluminum projects with great success. I highly recommend this product to all our colleagues in the industry.
Where do you see Axis Product Development, and manufacturing in general going in the future?
In the near future, we are hoping to expand to become a 50+ machine shop. We believe that both the manufacturing industry and our company will be moving towards a leaner operation. With the industry headed in that direction, we hope to be among those pioneers leading the way.
Is there anything you would like to share, or advice you would give to readers knowing what you know now?
As cliché as it might sound, I cannot emphasize the importance of doing what you love. If you ever want to succeed and grow in any career/business you need to be able to withstand the tough and difficult moments, and trust me it is much easier to go through those times when you love what you do.