Keith Stillion is the owner of Stillion Industries in Dexter Michigan. Chuck Stillion, his father was the machinist who began working at Bibikoff Tool in 1958 and later founded Stillion industries. Bibikoff Tool, which would become Stillion Industries was originally located in Superior township, Michigan and was run by Vladamir Bibicoff until his untimely passing in 1968.
When the original owner of Bibikoff Tools passed away, Chuck Stillion helped his son, Vladamir Bibicoff run the company. His intent at the time was to assist in preparation to sell the company, with his own plans to go into the remodeling business. Demand for machining at Bibikoff Tool remained steady and Chuck Stillion opted to move the company to Staebler Road in Ann Arbor changing the name to Stillion Industries in 1972 as he took over operations. Keith Stillion began helping his father at the age of 12 in the machine shop and continued to work with him on and off throughout. He attended Washtenaw Community college for CNC programming.
Chuck Stillion ran the company at 33 Staebler and moved it to 180 Dino drive in Ann Arbor until 2006 when due to the recession the company lost major clients and in turn revenue. When Chuck Stillion decided to close the business, Keith Stillion, who was working as an ER Tech part-time at Chelsea hospital, purchased the company. During the auction of the company’s machines, it became apparent that keeping the machines was the best decision. Keith moved the company to his pole barn to run on a part-time basis. The company was making an average of 65k per year when I took over. As time went by, Keith decided to close the business and work full-time at the hospital. A huge increase in business prompted him instead to quit the hospital job and hire more employees. Not long after, Keith moved the company to its current location at 2055 Lima Center road in 2013. Stillion Industries ended up being my lifetime career.
The location where Keith moved Stillion operations was a 5 building complex providing the space needed to expand machine shop operations. He also rented one of the buildings to S & G fabrication for several years. In this time, income tripled for Stillion Industries. Dexter Manufacturing, another local machine shop, approached Keith about renting space in the new location, in the end they sold their company to Keith. This expansion brought with it new customers and machines to support the growing business. Dexter Manufacturing came with a website, which was the first time Stillion Industries had a website.
To service certain customers, Stillion Retained the Dexter Manufacturing name/logo.
and utilized the Stilliondextermfg.com domain after the Dextermanufacturing.com domain expired. This domain still forwards StillionIndustries.com
In 2019, Electro Arc, a customer of Stillion Industries since 1975 entered into negotiations with Stillion Industries for acquisition. Keith purchased the company, to pursue the opportunity to have a unique line of products. Electro Arc’s products consist of over 40 bespoke metal disintegrating machines and their accessories such as molybdenum electrodes, which are also produced onsite. Included with Electro Arc’s products, Ames Portable Hardness Testers which are now completely manufactured by Stillion Industries. Stillion Industries maintained all Electro Arc employees, doubling the number of employees. Stillion Industries modified its office structure to accommodate the new positions such as sales and purchasing and hired a part-time social media manager.
Integrating Electro Arc operations into Stillion Industries was quite the undertaking. Electro Arc’s building was 30000 square feet of files, furniture, and machines to sort through and integrate all of these items into Stillion Industries buildings. Electro Arc also has a separate division in England, so Keith went from dealing solely with local services to international sales overnight.
As a machine shop, Stillion Industries has the advantage of making more parts for the machine and tester products on-site than Electro Arc ever did before the acquisition. Stillion Industries machines 60% of the components for Electro Arc metal disintegrators and 99% of the parts for Ames Portable Hardness Testers and accessories. Of course, this presented a challenge as Electro Arc became Stillion Industries’ largest client overnight. This increased production cost which changed our financial position immediately.
Electro Arc came with late orders and a continual learning curve. Not only did we need to learn how to build metal disintegrators, we were faced with challenges related to obsolete parts and necessary redesign costs.
We designed new components and changed designs to continue manufacturing metal disintegrators. Supply chain issues related to Covid also necessitated an increase in our prices.
We redesigned the boards for our IQ head Auto feed which was very expensive but necessary. We are pursuing a pump redesign as an alternative option as availability has not been consistent. Manufacturing our own pump will allow customers to purchase new pumps from us. We are now guiding hundreds of customers through an upgrade for the disintegrating heads, the upgrade for the heads to work. We are also working on a new magnet design for our 3000 LB magnetic structure to investigate alternatives to navigate recent roadblocks in availability.
Most of our machine shop customers are return customers for the life of our company. In the same way, Electro Arc came with a large number of return customers purchasing accessories for their existing machines, seeking service or repair for both metal disintegrators and Ames hardness testers.
Our machining services are offered in the greater Washtenaw county region, and balancing existing customers with the Electro Arc and Ames demands has been challenging. Starting from scratch with an old company has been difficult to attract new customers. One of our goals is to donate the oldest Ames portable hardness tester we have and the oldest Electro Arc metal disintegrator we can find.