Today we’d like to introduce you to Caleb Chamberlain.
Hi Caleb, so excited to have you on the platform. So, before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today.
My brother and I had a constant need for custom sheet metal parts, and we found the process excruciating. We’d come up with new sheet metal designs as quickly as every day and then fight with vendors to get pricing and parts quickly. The long lead-time for custom parts added literally months to our product development cycle.
So, we decided to fix the problem! Jacom and I founded OSH Cut in 2018 to make it quick and easy to order custom sheet metal parts online. We built software to provide instant quotes and then built out our factory floor to push parts through production as fast as same-day. That allows us to help companies develop products faster and maintain less inventory. It’s more efficient for everyone.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back, would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
We entered the sheet metal industry with no real experience, so we had to learn a lot of things the hard way. Our original idea was just to quote instantly, but we quickly found out that running a sheet metal manufacturing operation is hard. Complicated. So, we started writing software to fix that, too. Our ability to build custom software tools to make our lives easier has really enabled the whole operation.
As you know, we’re big fans of OSH Cut, Inc. For our readers who might not be as familiar, what can you tell them about the brand?
In the sheet metal industry, shops take on average 2 to 5+ days to provide pricing for custom sheet metal parts. Then once a PO is submitted it can take 3 to 6 weeks, or more, to fabricate the parts.
OSH Cut dramatically changes that experience. We provide quotes instantly online, and our standard lead is only 5 business days. Customers can also select lead-time during checkout, without options as fast as same-day for customers who are in a hurry.
Think about that. Most shops take 2 to 5 or more days to provide a quote, while we can provide finished parts same-day. It’s a massively disruptive change in an old industry.
We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
Ironically, one big lesson had to do with planning. COVID unexpectedly produced a huge spike in demand for sheet metal parts – companies had to bring their manufacturing back the US, people were staying home and ordering products, and the federal government injected huge resources into the economy. At about the same time demand peaked, we happened to be running an experiment to figure out how our ad spend could scale, while still producing good outcomes.
We didn’t know it at the time, but the COVID-fueled bump in manufacturing demand materially affected the outcomes of that internal study. We didn’t extend too far, but in retrospect, it did influence decisions in a way that could have caused problems if we weren’t inclined to be careful.