It seems there’s always a need for general-purpose machine shops, wherever in the world they find themselves. These are companies, often family-owned, that make a specialization out of being generalists. Usually they don’t have their own product lines; they maybe don’t even have a preferred industry sector or a particular technology that sets them apart from other job shops. What they do have, however, is their reputation.
Italy has its fair share of such companies, and G-Tech CNC, based near Reggio Emilia, is one of them.
“We are here for what the market needs, when it needs it,” says Davide Gherpelli, company front man. “We can supply prototype parts in small quantities, or we can provide parts in high volume – large batches of series production. No particular sector; we think of ourselves as a 360 degree company.”
From the 1970s until 2011, Davide’s father, Giorgio Gherpelli, ran G-Tech. In fact, the company actually began with his father, Davide’s grandfather. It was 2004 when Davide joined and almost a decade later when they welcomed Mirko, his younger brother, whom they call the ‘mago’ (the magician), for his skill with the Haas CNC. Now, there are 5 employees at G-Tech. But between them, they run a very busy machine shop.
“We invested in our first Haas CNC machine in 2007,” remembers Davide: “An SL-10 turning centre. We then bought a Super MiniMill, an ST-10Y turning centre with live tooling, a VF-2SS high-speed mill, and a VF-1, which is our general-purpose machine. In fact, we have a Haas machine tool for almost all our machining needs. We have a very good selection!”
Davide claims that his early experience with Haas helped make up his mind about the capabilities of the machines, and their suitability for a growing job shop. “It’s not just me, though,” he says. “You can look around the workshop and see how much we all love these machines. We eat, sleep and breathe Haas!”
Projects vary as much in type and industry sector as they do in volume of parts required. The company’s Haas VF-2SS, equipped with an HRT210 is, says Davide, always busy. “We use this machine a lot for more complex parts – typically, prototypes. We use TopSolid CADCAM and programme off-line, whereas, with the ST-10, we usually programme at the machine. We’re currently using the ST to make bearing housings for the Airbus A350 and Ti rear wheel hubs for the Politecnico di Torino hyper-mileage car. The VF-1 is being used to machine parts for a drone used to measure contours of the land in 3D.”
Around the workshop are various other projects that the company isn’t at liberty to discuss openly. One component in particular looks like the inner part of a steering wheel for a high-performance sports car. “I can’t tell you anything about that,” smiles Davide. “Secrecy is important for some of our customers.” Good reputations are hard to come by but very easy to lose. “We’ve built our reputation on delivering good parts on time,” says Davide, “but also for being trustworthy and discreet, at the same time.”
“The automotive sector in particular is very sensitive, especially in this part of Italy. There are some big names nearby.” As proud Italians, that’s work the Gherpelli family intends to keep and may well be the key to the company’s future growth. “As our assignments become more complex, and we attract more big-name customers, we already know we will need more Haas machines; the UMC750, for example.”
For more than 50 years, five axis machining was simply too expensive for small to medium sized job shops like G-Tech CNC. Not anymore. “The UMC750 is an affordable 3+2 machine tool,” concludes Davide. “Like the Haas machines we already own, if we buy one it will allow us to expand and build our business for years to come.” And with its reputation preceding it, perhaps this family will stay in business for many more generations, as is the Italian way.