A variety of different parts lay strewn across the expansive facilities of Blackwing Industries, a CNC machining shop located in Business Depot Ogden: rollercoaster parts, computer casings, avionics, random metal internal organs of x-ray and CAT scan machines. The most important part of the business however, according to owner Rob Clark, is the people he works with.
“It’s not working for people. It’s partnering with people,” Clark said over the steady hum of 4-5 axis mills in the background. Various diagrams and blueprints are scattered across desks. Metal shavings cover the floor like fake snow in a department store Christmas display.
Having earned a positive reputation in the industry thanks to their quality work, strong customer service, and timely fulfillment of contracts, Blackwing is able to be a little more selective with clients.
“If someone is just honest and upfront with you—those are the people you want to work with. If there’s anything even a little weird or shady, we don’t want anything to do with them,” he says, referring to clients he’s worked with in the past.
Clark now makes an intentional effort to partner with upfront groups like these, even if it could mean missing out on potential business. His client list now includes many prominent companies in the healthcare, avionics and computer industries.
Starting as a firearms manufacturer, Blackwing Industries eventually branched out into the medical and aeronautical fields. Now the majority of Clark’s business comes from producing parts for X-ray machines, CAT scanning equipment, aircraft, computer control boxes, and a wide variety of other parts.
When asked where he wants his business to be in the future, he barely hesitated. “I want to keep making good parts for good people.”
This same philosophy of partnering with good people carries over into Blackwing’s relationships with employees. When asked his biggest challenges as a business owner, he lists finding quality employees as number one.
“For many workers, they’re working for a paycheck. They go home and forget about work. For me, I’m working for the business. It’s my life,” he said, giving voice to a struggle every business owner will relate to.
Over the years, Clark has learned certain tricks for finding quality employees. When asked what type of employee he looks for when making a new hire, he doesn’t even hesitate. “Farm boys. These guys know how to work. We’re focusing less on hiring people with formal training and more on people who know how to work. We can teach them the rest.”
This strategy of finding individuals with strong work ethic and integrity and then teaching them the skills needed for the business, even if it means spending more time on training, has begun to pay dividends.
“Like Justin here. He’s great. He’s been with us for over a year now,” Clark said, referring to a passing employee. “You’re going to run this place someday,” he adds.
It’s a simple model—work hard, be honest, and partner with good people—but it’s one that Clark has worked on for years and will continue to strive for. And, if Blackwing is any indication, it’s one that will benefit any business regardless of the industry.
“Who’s the best boss? It’s me, right?” Clark quipped to his employee. Then he nodded. “Yeah, it’s me.”