“When you’re doing high mix low volume work, you can’t afford to spend hours on set-ups and training. TigerStop definitely fits the bill.” – Torrey M. Bievenour, VP, Vision Quest Lighting, Inc
Vision Quest Lighting Inc. started as a custom lighting manufacturer covering commercial, public sector, and high-end residential markets. The company was founded in 1996 by Larry Lieberman, who, at the time, specialized in theatrical lighting. In 2005 VQL expanded its services into architectural lighting and has since grown from a small engineering office to a 20,000-square-foot manufacturing facility on Long Island, New York. In 2018, VQL joined with Royal Contract Lighting to bring customers the same high-quality products with faster service and more efficient production.
With such sizable growth comes obvious growing pains. And being able to identify bottlenecks and areas of inefficiency is key. Adapting to new technology and finding ways to improve production speed and quality when trying to produce custom parts and fixtures can be a daunting task. This is where Marcus Lemonis stepped in, bringing with him TigerStop solutions.
Marcus Lemonis, a successful owner of a multi-billion dollar company, seeks out businesses that need a bit of help getting back on track. He helps point out specific areas for improvement and turns the businesses around by imparting advice and investing his own capital into the company. CNBC’s The Profit follows Marcus’s progress as he partners with businesses to help them reach their full potential. That’s how Vision Quest Lighting first came to work with Marcus.
We spoke with Torrey M. Bievenour, VQL’s executive vice president, about the experience of working with Marcus Lemonis: “It has been a unique opportunity to have someone come in from the outside, and with fresh eyes, evaluate our processes. Just like getting used to using an old miter saw of questionable accuracy, you get used to doing things in ways that may not always work well or consistently. However, you sometimes need that outside perspective to make you look at things again and use the right equipment and processes for the work at hand; someone [Marcus Lemonis] who asks about how much time is being wasted with less-than-ideal equipment.”
Streamlining the Process: TigerStop Solutions
Marcus helped guide VQL toward purchasing their first TigerStop, an automated stop/gauge and pusher system that attaches to saws, boring equipment, drills, punches, and more, to give accurate and repeatable cuts. VQL specifically needed to address areas of inefficiency in their cutting processes.
“We primarily use the TigerStop system in conjunction with a cold saw for cutting aluminum extrusions, steel bars, and HSS (hollow structural sections) to length for making our lighting fixtures. Even when we are only making a single fixture, we often have repetitive cuts that need to be made. For the low-volume work, it is really important that set-ups are quick and accurate, and this is a big benefit to the TigerStop system,” says Bievenour.
The former method of cutting parts proved to be problematic for VQL. “Previously, any repetitive cuts requiring accuracy necessitated one of our more skilled individuals to set up a fixed stop on a homemade table for each length. And accuracy was limited to the accuracy of the tape measure in use at the time. Now, setting up a series of cut lengths is quick and easy and the cuts and more consistent and accurate. The table also provides a long, smooth, and level surface for handling the raw material, which makes usage easier as well.”
VQL has been able to free up their most skilled employees for work requiring more expertise than running a cutoff station, without compromising on quality. Training any employee to use their TigerStop setup is pain-free. “When you’re doing high mix low volume work, you can’t afford to spend hours on set-ups and training. TigerStop definitely fits the bill,” explains Bievenour.
Currently, Royal Contract Lighting is one of the largest custom lighting manufacturers in the United States, with a client base including hotels and hospitality, national retail brands, corporate offices, and high-end residential projects. Just as VQL was before, Royal Contract Lighting is well-esteemed in the design community and prides itself on its technical know-how. Every day, their TigerStop solutions help them uphold the quality and consistency they’re known for. “We are very proud of our technical expertise and flexibility as a manufacturer. It has always been important to us that any major tool investment that we make has a flexible use profile. It is also important that tools be easy to set-up and use.”