A computer numerical control router, some software and a man who knows his way around both: That sums up Colorado CNC Shop, the operation owned by Andrew Townsend. Deft skills with his woodworking tools and a knowledge of a number of design programs allow Townsend to complete projects that would typically take multiple people much more time.
“I can do anything a conventional woodshop can do, but in about a quarter of the hours,” said Townsend.
For instance, a large company sign took him about 20 minutes to complete. He has no need for a template or hand router, which add time, he said.
It doesn’t have to be just wood, either. He can cut plastic, aluminum or other materials, with the exception of steel.
In addition to custom signs, he also creates closets, cabinetry and any wood component with complex curves.
“Anything that utilizes a 4-by-8 sheet of material is ideal,” he said.
For signage, Townsend can handle the design himself, or work from a client-submitted image. Software quickly converts the design, producing the lines he’ll need to cut the product.
His design chops also come in handy at White Pooch Digital Marketing, the marketing firm he owns. And he can combine his two companies for clients who may be searching for both design work and a custom cut.
Townsend chooses the design software that’s most appropriate for each project.
“Different softwares are good at different things,” he said. “Imagine you’re doing a race and you have to do five laps around the track but on lap three, the terrain changes to hilly dirt. You should then park your Honda Civic, get in your [Ford] F-150 and do the dirt in the F-150 and finish it up in the Honda Civic. A lot of companies will do it in the one car, or the one software package, which is slow.”
Townsend also said he’s not afraid to reach out to others who complement his work to gain their input on the best methods to use in certain situations.
Before this recent leap into self-employment, he worked for Diversified Machine Systems, in both marketing and sales. He said he learned the products he was selling inside and out — at first it was simply to ensure that his customers were getting a quality product, but then he developed an interest in the work.
“Most people that have a CNC are probably using it at only 25 percent of its capability,” he said. “It’s knowing where to make changes to get it to work more efficiently, such as which router bit to use and knowing how fast you can run it.”
Details like those make the difference when it comes to productivity and speed. Also, knowing the market helps him save money on software and machinery. He also stresses that it’s important to not buy into propaganda about what you “need” to make a company succeed.
Being a one-man shop also saves on overhead, he said. And though he does a lot, he doesn’t do it all.
“My whole business is not making a product from 0 to 100. It’s going to a closet company or cabinet company and saying ‘Let me save you 10 hours of work and deliver you the product that all you have to do is stain and sand.’”
Originally from Arlington, Texas, Townsend, 27, is a few classes short of an economics degree from UCCS — but he’s in no hurry.
“I’m a typical person that doesn’t like to go to class,” he said. “No fault of any — I’m just stubborn.”
But he does like to teach, whether that be a marketing class at the library or a presentation to kids to spark their interest in manufacturing. To him, manufacturing is more than business — it’s a lifestyle.
Colorado CNC Shop
Location: 3360D N. El Paso St.
Contact: coloradocncshop.com; 719-338-8708