When co-founding Tonnage Industrial nearly four years ago, brothers Greg and Todd Phillips made a decision that quickly paid off: purchasing a plasma cutting machine by AKS Cutting Systems.

The pair actually bought a used AKS accu-kut plasma cutting table with the help of the AKS sales team, a move that allowed the Long Beach, Calif.-based custom metals company to rapidly meet the demands of a fast-growing customer base.

Having worked in the steel industry for their entire careers — following in the footsteps of their father, grandfather and great-grandfather — the Phillipses had the expertise needed to set up their company for success.

“A big part of our business is expediting things,” Todd said. “We deal with refineries, power plants, and do a lot of ship repair in Long Beach harbor. We have a wide range of products and customers, anything from one piece of plate cut to size, to truckloads of material.”

Carbon, stainless, and aluminum fabrication is done in-house, producing plate, tube, pipe, and sheet products. The waterjet cutting system excelled at precision and finishing work for area machine shops.

Keeping up With Demand

After two-and-a-half years, Tonnage Industrial was ready to expand. The company worked with AKS to sell their first used accu-kut, then replaced it with a brand new, larger, accu-kut model. It also purchased a new AKS waterjet cutting system around that time.

Now with 16 employees and two machines running full-time, the company is ready to expand into a second building and recently just purchased another new AKS accu-kut plasma cutting table to add to their existing AKS waterjet systems and AKS plasma systems, according to Todd.

“Being that expediting is one of our specialties, we need more machines because the ones we have are running full time and we’re getting a little backlog,” Todd said. “People come to us for quick service, so we have to have a machine ready to turn parts out all the time.”

One memorable job with the waterjet system involved cutting a large gear for a refinery. The project involved very tight specifications and Tonnage Industrial was able to cut the part in a day or so.

“The customer actually wrote us up in a letter that went to the refinery,” Todd said. “They really touted us on the service and the precision of the part. That scored some really big points with the customer and the customer’s customer.”

On the plasma side, cutting speed and tight tolerances have been significant benefits, he added.

“I would say everything we cut has a tolerance within a 16th of an inch, regardless of whether it’s material that is one-16th of an inch or two inches thick. It’s very, very precise.”

Superior Customer Service

One of the most important advantages of working with AKS has been the customer service, including short response time and the ability to troubleshoot over the phone.

“Installation and training were great,” Todd said. “We were up and running within five days with minimal glitches or fine-tuning. Anything we have needed help with, we’ve been able to do over the phone with them — anything from troubleshooting the machine to helping us with programming.

When it comes to ordering new machines, the AKS sales team assists in matching the company with the right product. This includes a visit to the Tonnage Industrial facility and help creating the ideal layout.

“We have a personal relationship with them,” Todd said. “We really feel like we’re in good hands when we call.”

He said the company is poised for growth and that AKS is a component of future success.

“COVID slowed down our growth, but it enabled us to regroup and fine-tune,” Todd said. “As things opened back up, we’ve been hit with this new wave of business and demand from customers that we’re able to keep up with. Moving forward, having a new machine on the way is going to be able to give us that much more ability.”