Matthew and Daniella Schroeder know what it’s like to make something out of nothing. They have managed to turn Matt’s Motor Worx, located in Montevideo, MN, into a diverse and thriving business that started with just four bare walls. Matt learns a lot from owning and driving a late model dirt stock car, and this gives him an edge on other builders in the area. This month, Engine Builder asked Matt and Daniella to give us and you a view from their shop.
EB: How did Matt’s Motor Worx get started?
MMW: We started our own shop in 1997 by purchasing a building that consisted of four walls. We put in an office, parts room and a separate engine assembly room a must for an engine shop in our eyes. Matthew is an ASE Master Engine Machinist with 20 years experience. Daniella does all the bookwork as well as work a full time job at a custom frame shop.
The first year was hard; there was a lot of work. We were doing it all on our own. At the end of the first year, we had enough business to hire a full-time man, Steve Bloch, a hard working family man with over 20 years in production machine shops. He is a great asset to our business. Our 16-year-old son, Rick, started in the shop, at the bottom, like the rest of us sweeping the floors. Now, he is up to grinding valves and removing engines after school.
EB: Approximately, what is your sales in dollars per year? What specific products do you produce?
MMW: We are in a small rural town in Minnesota. We did $143,000 in sales last year. We work on any and all engines, snowmobiles and four-wheelers, tractors as well as classic cars and race engines.
EB: What is your customer base?
MMW: We have the equipment and experience to make parts that are not available anymore. We do the machine work for the auto and implement dealers in town and the surrounding area, as well as many track champions at all the local race tracks.
EB: Who are Matt’s Motor Worx major competitors? How do you position yourself in the market against your competitors?
MMW: Since we opened in 1997, we have prided ourselves on doing quality work without comebacks. This has worked well but, unfortunately, the other two jobber machine shops in the area have closed. The next closest shop is where I worked for 16 years before opening my own shop. I feel competition is good for business.
EB: How does your company promote and market its services?
MMW: We use some radio and newspaper. We like to sponsor at the local race tracks with racers I build engines for. Where else can thousands of people hear and see what you can do for them? Word of mouth is an excellent way to promote your business.
EB: Have production procedures in the shop changed over the past five years?
MMW: In order to keep up with demand, we had to upgrade equipment: we purchased a Rottler boring bar, a computer for bookwork, and AERA’s (Engine Rebuilders Association) PROSIS software to keep up-to-date on all the new motor specs." Although all of the equipment in the shop is not new, it is all maintained and serviced regularly in order to ensure quality work that can be produced profitably. This allows a new shop to run in the black instead of the red! You need a lot of equipment to do the job right. It doesn’t matter how much you know if you don’t have the equipment to back it up.
EB: What is a typical problem for your shop?
MMW: One of our biggest problems is getting customers to understand why we will only do the job to the highest quality and not cut corners. This is not always the cheapest route, but it is what defines our reputation. In a small town, a reputation for doing a bad job gets around 10 times more quickly than one for doing a good job.
EB: What kind of cleaning process do you use? Why?
MMW: We have a hot dip tank and a spray wash cabinet for doing aluminum. I use this because, in a small shop, I have time to do other work while the parts are soaking.
EB: What are the most popular engines being built in your shop?
MMW: That depends on the time of year. Winter is snowmobiles, spring and fall are tractors, spring and summer are race engines. All year long we also work on stock production for cars and trucks, and throw in a few muscle cars to complete it all.