With servo press, new game for Check-Mate

To servo and protect: Check-Mate Industries' new 300-ton servo press.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

West Babylon manufacturer Check-Mate Industries is stepping up its game – good news for the top names in the firearms and medical-device industries.

Launched four decades ago as a simple tool- and die-maker, Check-Mate Industries this spring invested almost three-quarters of a million dollars – all house money – in its biggest-ever metal-stamping machine, a 300-ton servo press produced by multinational manufacturer AIDA Engineering.

Joseph DeBello: Going up.

Joseph DeBello: Going up.

The servomotor-powered press, a critical tool for modern metal-forming, will expose the circa-1972 machine shop to dramatic new verticals, according to Check-Mate Industries President Joseph DeBello, who started at Check-Mate as an apprentice die-maker 21 years ago and was named president in 2014.

The No. 1 benefit of the $550,000 servo press – which Check-Mate Industries tricked out with $90,000 worth of magnetic quick die-change plates and a $70,000 coil-feed line, which quickly feeds casting material into the press – is speed, DeBello noted.

“A lot of the components we make now are done in what we call ‘secondary stage tooling,’ which is all hand-fed tooling,” he told Innovate LI. “So a product like a magazine may take four or five employees to complete.

“With this new servo press, we’re going to be able to incorporate all of these tooling operations into one single operation,” DeBello added, noting this will not only save time, but make better use of man-hours – primarily, by “repurposing those four or five employees to higher-level tasks.”

The AIDA machine also allows Check-Mate Industries to manufacture larger components for existing clients – including major firearms makers such as SIG Sauer and Smith & Wesson and an array of medical-device makers, including Ireland-based international kingpin Medtronic – while introducing the West Babylon firm to entirely new markets.

“We’re going to start going after the renewable-energy markets,” DeBello noted. “There are over 400 stampings inside of a wind turbine, for instance. This opens us up to larger parts that we couldn’t produce before, for the same industries and for new industries.”

It’s a quantum leap for the 44-year-old machining shop, which has grown into a full-fledged manufacturer with complete metal-stamping, computer-numerical-controlled machining and assembly services. Check-Mate Industries now employs over 200 people – including engineers, die-makers, apprentices, office staff and production crew – and occupies 67,000 square feet over two neighboring Wyandanch Avenue facilities.

While the company is eager to put its stamp on new verticals, it will continue to butter its bread in its core markets, DeBello noted: as a surgical-equipment supplier – primarily, heating units for suture guns – and a maker of trigger bars, firing pins and other small firearms components.

Firearms has been and will probably continue to be Check-Mate Industries’ largest market, according to DeBello, who cited supply deals with “almost every major gun manufacturer.” But the company didn’t make its sizeable equipment investment based on demand from existing customers: The goal here is expansion, DeBello said, within and beyond existing markets.

“We were looking for ways to do this faster and better, and we asked ourselves, ‘What do we need?’” he said. “So we went and got it.”

Besides a Section 179 tax deduction that allows small businesses to write off certain equipment purchases, Check-Mate Industries did not receive any financial assistance on its chunky purchases. But it was prepared to bite the financial bullet on the upgrades, DeBello noted, not only to widen the company’s prospects but to show appreciation for those 200-plus employees.

“Our employees have been very good to us,” the president said. “We wanted to show them that we’re here to stay.

“We’re interested in growing this business, and we’re going to make wise investments that help us do so.”

Besides, DeBello added, if everything goes according to plan, the new machine – which Check-Mate Industries installed in April and is still getting to know – will likely pay for itself in fairly short order.

“We’re still retrofitting some of our tools to be able to run with the servo press,” DeBello said. “I’m thinking that by the end of the third quarter, we’ll start seeing the benefits of all these investments.”