Versatility equals success
Little Laconia machine shop's work has long reach
Kim Baron, president of Baron Machine Co. in Laconia, shows off a part the company made for Osram, a lighting manufacturer. (MICHAEL COUSINEAU/UNION LEADER)
Jeremy Baron, vice president of Baron Machine Company in Laconia, shows off a piston rod for an F-35 fighter jet. (MICHAEL COUSINEAU/UNION LEADER)
Within the past several years, the company has made parts to help produce a satellite, solar panels, Black Hawk helicopters and the F-35 jet fighter, to name a few.
Technology has come a long way since 1957, when Kim's father, Roger, formed the company.
"You had to be a better machinist back then," the president said. "You had to take a piece of steel in your hand and finish a part. Now, it's programmed. They're almost more operators than machinists."
"If either my father or my uncles or some of the employees when I was a little kid, if they ever came back to life and saw what this business is like today, they would think they were looking at 'Star Wars,'" said Baron, who's worked at the company for 43 years.
"You realize some of the parts are going into the Black Hawk helicopter," Kim Baron said. "There's a little piece of pride that pops out."
"I think it's going to affect us," Kim Baron said. "Who knows how much?"
And the company is trying to keep its workforce to less than 50, to avoid some provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
Another Baron Machine client, who makes measuring equipment, looks to Baron to produce an aluminum bracket. Twelve-foot metal bars are cut into 3.25-inch lengths that later become brackets of just less than 3 inches long, according to Jeremy Baron.
In 2008, the company announced a large order involving the renewable energy industry. The contract, from GT Advanched Technologies in Merrimack, was worth millions.
Workers can work on several parts on several machines in a week's time.
The family company's secret to success comes from thinking for the long term.
"I think like any small business being around as long as we have, I think you have to be diligent and flexible," Kim Baron said.
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