Hundreds of thousands of dollars in heavy-machine work are being injected into the Utah economy as the result of a Salt Lake company's 400,000-pound vertical boring machine.
Douglass J. Murray, president of Prime Machine Inc., 575 W. Eighth South., said the boring machine, equipped with a high-tech laser readout system, is the largest in Utah and is being used to help keep the Titan missile project at Hercules Bacchus Works on schedule.As a subcontractor for Mark Steel Co., Prime Machine does all of the machine work on the large lids for the vacuum chamber where the missiles are built and filled with propellent. The lids are nearly 23 feet in diameter, weigh several tons and the parts are machined to within one millionth of an inch.
Prime Machine also has produced some flanges that are part of the missile program at Hercules. The firm can complete the machine work on a lid within one week after receipt from Mark Steel, Murray said. The company has also produced some flight hardware for the Hercules missile program.
The Froriep vertical boring mill was built in Germany, but Prime Machine purchased it used from Stearns and Rogers in Denver. New, the machine would cost $3.5 million, but Murray figures his company has $800,000 tied up in the used machine, the new 5,000-square-foot building which houses it, and the transportation and assembly costs.
Luke Ramsdell, the project manager on the new machine, went to Denver to supervise the disassembly of the machine and then supervised the assembly that started Oct. 8, 1988, and was completed in February. Ramsdell said his employees worked 3,582 hours assembling the machine.
Once the Hercules project is completed, the Prime Machine will be used to repair and maintain large crushing machines used in gold mining operations. Murray expects to complete some more flight hardware for Hercules for the missile rocket program, and the firm is working on some federal government contracts as well.
Installation of the vertical boring mill is the latest chapter in Prime Machine's success story.
Murray and Fred Albert were employees at Unico Co. in Salt Lake City in 1979 and the company was losing about $10,000 per month. Murray said he was named general manager and he appointed Albert as shop foreman and within two months the two of them turned the money losses into profits.
They tried to purchase the company, but the owner refused. Murray borrowed $3,500 each from his father, John Murray, and father-in-law, Jack Neil, for which they were given some of the company stock. They bought a small machine shop and began servicing equipment for large industrial companies like steam turbines, compressors, pumps and gear boxes.
From $302,194 in revenue in the first fiscal year, Prime Machine has grown to $2.2 million in revenue in the fiscal year ending March 31, and Murray expects nearly $4 million in revenue in the current fiscal year. He said the new boring machine will be responsible for the much of the increase although it has been attracting customers for the company's other services.
Murray attributes much of his company's success to customer service and a quality-control program instituted several years ago. He recalls a time when his employees worked around the clock to get a broken gold operation crusher back in operation.
"We didn't lock the doors of this place for 43 days," he said.