We have endured many of the worldwide conflicts, changes in economic outlooks and the pressure of international trade deregulation with hard work, determination, and innovation. We have continued to provide millions of endmills to the world each year. It is our commitment and perseverance to keep moving forward. Below is a brief history of where we began and insight as to where we are going.
KENNETH P. STANABACK – PRESIDENT
1944 – 1988
Ken Stanaback was founder and president of Conical Tool Company. He recognized early on in his tooling experience that the need for a tapered end mill was absolutely necessary. The design of such a revolutionary cutting tool kept him on a quest that would culminate with his patented “constant spiral” tapered end mill. Countless hours of his time were spent refining what would turn out to be one of the major breakthroughs in the cutting tool industry in the 1940’s. From 1944 well into the 1950’s, Ken, through much trial and error, was able to offer ten different types of end mills, soon followed by the newly developed left-hand spiral tapered end mills. For nearly a decade Ken was owner, grinder, milling machine operator, flute polisher, and salesman. For Ken, working sixty hour weeks was a way of life. The early sacrifices included having to live and raise a small family in the front of the shop they owned. By the 1960’s the ever increasing popularity of the tapered end mill pushed Ken to begin selling worldwide. Conical was manufacturing end mills for England, Germany, Japan and over thirty more countries.
The 1970’s ushered in many new inventions which would help keep up with production levels for a worldwide market. Ken converted eight Cincinnati vertical mills into tapered end mill grinders using “automatic” technology and an ingenious mix of hydraulics and pneumatics. He was able to adapt the machines to grind the flutes and radial back-off using a borazon grinding wheel. The quality they maintained compares closely to today’s CNC grinding machine centers. They eventually contributed to about 60% of Conical’s overall production of quality end mills and tooling at that time. To keep up with the times, Ken began investing in numerous CNC driven machines. The faster production speeds and improved quality were quickly realized.
Always the inventor, Ken developed yet another type of CNC milling machine adapted from Cincinnati horizontal mills and the clever usage of multiple electric motors. These mills are still producing quality end mills as of this writing. In 1988, Ken was diagnosed with cancer. Even with this on his mind, he still insisted on being taken back to the shop from the hospital to make sure this new milling machines were running properly. Besides Ken’s engineering and mathematical brilliance, a person who knew him would be hard-pressed to find a better, fairer employer.
HARRIET STANABACK – PRESIDENT
1988 – 2004
After Ken’s passing in 1988, Harriet Stanaback took over a growing and changing company. Harriet began working for Conical Tool in 1962, hired as an office secretary, Harriet worked her way into Ken’s respect and trust. By asking Ken frequent questions, Harriet learned many of the intricacies of how the business ran and just as importantly, how end mills were produced. Her thoroughness was an excellent quality to have around. It didn’t take long before her creativity began to show. Harriet conceived a way to more accurately track the progression of tooling through the shop and get a more accurate idea of what the tools actually cost to produce. All of her twenty-six years of earlier experience and knowledge propelled Harriet for the ultimate challenge she would face, running Conical Tool alone after Ken’s passing. She handled it with the maturity and confidence learned from years before. Drawing on what she gleaned from Ken and her own determined attitude, Harriet already had the necessary tools to take the torch.
The CNC carbide end mill revolution that Ken began had to be accelerated even quicker than before. The end mill tooling industry was changing so rapidly, Harriet decided to swing the focus of the company to more progressive machines like the ANCA tooling centers and the Tru Tech production grinders. Although difficult, fazing out some of Ken’s early tapered end mill machinery was necessary if room for the newer CNC machines needed to make carbide end mills was to be made. These types of decisions had to be made regardless of emotional value. The new machines kept Conical competitive through all the difficult economic times of the 1990’s and into the 21st century. These types of decisions would save numerous jobs, and keep Conical in the forefront of a very competitive carbide tooling market. After fifteen years in charge, Harriet knew down deep that new blood was necessary to keep Conical on the right path. Nobody but Harriet would have been able to accomplish the tasks that had to be contended with. She did it the best way she thought possible with no regrets.
DAVID MELINN & DENNIS AVERY – CEO & PRESIDENT
2004 – 2012
David and Dennis both began their tooling careers at Conical Tool in the late 1970’s. They learned from the bottom up, like most others. Dave Melinn stayed at Conical from 1975 until 1980. Leaving to work for Great Lakes Grinding in Grand Rapids for seven years. From 1987 to 1990, Dave left Great Lakes, eventually ending up as the Plant Manager with Wolverine Cutter in Grand Rapids. There, many unique tools designs, like the crest-out end mills, roughing end mills, carbide end mills, form tools, t-slot cutters, and milling cutters, continued to add to Dave’s resume. With this important three years under his belt, Dave was ready to take the task of owning his own regrind business. From 1990 to 2002, Dave and his wife Hanny started Melinn Tool. Regrinding was his forte. It didn’t take long before the word spread. Becoming an employer himself gave him the drive to take on an even bigger challenge, the eventual ownership of Conical Tool Company.
Dennis worked in many areas of the shop, one day cutting off steel, the next running lathes, then working in the milling department. He eventually left Conical for three years to explore the job market. In the early 1980’s Denny was hired back to do cutter grinding and CNC lathe work. He was quick to adapt to the CNC controls of the new Mazak lathe, and was put in charge of the production of that department. Soon after this, he also was given the reponsibilities of the milling department taking the pressure off the rest of the shop production by filling in when it was needed most. During the early 1990’s, Denny assumed just about every position in the shop, ceaselessly learning everything he could absorb. Not unnoticed by Harriet Stanaback, Denny was made foreman and plant manager.
In 2002, David and Dennis Avery were approached by Harriet Stanaback about her desire to sell the company. The offer was, as they well knew, a very difficult one for Harriet to make. She knew with the vast experience Dave had accumulated over the years and the long term commitment Denny has shown to the company would pay off. They bought Conical Tool Company after the retirement of Harriet Stanaback in 2004 and took on the legacy that was established since Conical’s beginning.
Together they developed four entirely new types of cutting tools. Joining the expanding line of high-speed and carbide end mills, they added automotive taper endmills, carbide miniature end mills (carbide mini’s), profile rib cutters and countersink endmills. All of these new cutting tools and end mills can be viewed by going to our continuously updated tool catalog and index page. There you will see CNC carbide tooling, high speed steel tooling, and end mills that are used around the world.
ROBERT M. SHINDORF – PRESIDENT
2012 – Present
The great recession took its toll on the traditional american business model of technical entrepreneur. It became clear that if the company was to compete with international manufacturing giants and end mills which had become a commodity price point; a new executive would be needed with vast experience. The new executive needed the ability to cross international mercantile boundaries, have strong financial skills, the ability to make the right decision in an instant, develop new market strategies and analyze the direction and trend the metalworking industry was headed. Robert M. Shindorf had spent the last 10 years starting, developing and improving multiple companies. He began his management consulting career working for an international business consulting firm, traveling around the country helping privately owned businesses. As a driven individual, Robert left the company to start his own management, tax and advisory firm which still exists today. Having helped to turnaround and improve over 1,800 companies nationwide, Robert decided to develop an “acquire and improve” model to take companies from stagnation to new heights. His experience working directly with financial institutions to build comprehensive plans for reorganization allowed him to quickly improve the financial position of the company and begin working on new high performance end mills and cutting tools.
With a wealth of international market experience, Robert has begun to develop new material sources and new distributors in which to offer the new product lines that have been developed.
Over the next years, with considerable investment in infrastructure and talent, Robert plans on taking Conical Tool Company back to it’s roots of innovation, adaptation and technical experience unparalleled elsewhere in the carbide end mill and cutting tool industry.