Custom Manufacturing & Engineering
Dr. Nancy Crews, CEO & President
Custom Manufacturing & Engineering
Year Founded: 1997
Pinellas County, FL
Join Us! Florida Companies to Watch Awards Celebration
February 9, 2019
Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa, FL
Reception, Dinner & Awards: 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Individual Ticket: $150.00 each | Corporate 10 pack $1,400.00
RSVP by January 7, 2019
23% Job Growth
Custom Manufacturing and Engineering, Inc. (CME), is a 21-year-old, woman owned, engineering design and manufacturing company whose customers include Fortune 500 companies in the Industrial, Automotive, Energy, and Aerospace/Defense marketplaces. At CME, we design and manufacture your build to specification or build to print electrical/electronic and electro-mechanical products, assemblies or subassemblies. We use our two decades of experience to design and build your solution! CME holds AS9100D with ISO 9001:2015 QMS registration and A2LA accredited ISO 17025 Calibration Lab and maintenance/repair services for pressure instruments. At CME, we can help solve your most complex challenges quickly and cost-effectively—even when obsolete or hard-to-find items are required.
Transforming Customers’ Concepts into Cost-Effective and Quality Products
Dr. Nancy Crews, founder of Custom Manufacturing & Engineering, Inc. (CME®), spun the company off when the Largo nuclear weapons plant operated by Lockheed Martin Specialty Components was closed.
“At the end of the Cold War, the Department of Energy was in the process of downsizing their nuclear weapons complexes in the U.S. and were looking at people to help them take those technologies and commercialize them,” Dr. Crews said. “I was in the right place at the right time. I was hired to help with that process. An opportunity came up to spin off part of that business and that’s what I did.”
Established in March of 1997, CME specializes in organic design, build-to-print and build-to-specification solutions from power supplies and power distribution/management to testing equipment and any ancillary equipment in between.
“We bring engineering design and manufacturing know-how to provide solutions to customers,” Crews explained. “Our competitors have manufacturing capability but not always strong engineering or engineering design capabilities which allow you to really understand how the product works for your customer.”
Originally, the company focused heavily on servicing the defense industry. Lockheed Martin was CME’s first customer (and continues to be today), CME was selected to build data logging modules for the F-16 targeting pods. One of CME’s next projects was a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract that focused on building intelligent power management systems. CME developed a device that would move power around a military vehicle to manage the power needs of the air conditioning, sensors, communication equipment and other devices. The device allowed you to shift power to where it was needed. As a result of their achievement, CME won the Tibbetts Award, a Small Business Administration (SBA) award that recognizes organizations that made a visible technological impact on the socio-economic front and exemplify the very best in SBIR achievements.
From there, CME grew in areas where customers most valued their services. The company’s success led to more projects and the development of products as well as new technologies such as power products, controls panels, specialized test equipment and other areas. When sequestration and budget cuts reduced defense spending started in 2013, Crews sought assistance from GrowFL to help her company diversify.
GrowFL programs play a critical role in company expansion
“Their Economic Gardening facilitator from the Edward Lowe Foundation educated us on market strategy, business planning, and other aspects of a diversification strategy,” Crews said. “From there, we worked with market research to understand the marketplace. We looked at industries that may require our technologies and their growth rates. GrowFL helped us build a business plan, conduct competitive analysis and secure target customer lists. With GrowFL’s assistant and instruction from the Edward Lowe Foundation we have diversified into different markets, which was a big investment for us. CME’s diversification strategy has increased sales by 10-20%.”
CME is still involved with aerospace/defense work, but are also looking at the automotive, education and industrial industries. A unique value CME brings to their clients is the ability to take them through initial concept to a viable product manufacturing (CME’s Customer Proven Process); many competitors are unable to provide capabilities like CME does and are not as diversified. CME’s customers and the company’s track record demonstrates that they are very good at solving complex problems and have three separate independent auditor approved quality certification systems in place. CME’s certifications include ISO9001 and AS9100D QMS registrations by NSF-ISR, ISO/TS 16949 Letter of Conformance and A2LA Accredited ISO 17025 Calibration. Additionally, CME production associates are certified for proficiency to IPC-A-610 Acceptability of Electronic Assemblies; J-STD-001 Requirements for Soldered Electrical and Electronic Assemblies and IPC/WHMA-A-620 Requirements and Acceptance for Cable and Wire Harness Assemblies.
Dr. Crews described the workplace culture, consisting of 28 full time employees, three consultants, four interns, three part-time employees and six temporary employees, as guided by accountability and strong core values. “We strive for a culture of accountability,” she said. “When you say you’re going to do something, you’re expected to do it. Everyone should be able to count on everyone else. Our core values revolve around what serves the customer and what protects CME, solving our customer’s problems, our employees challenging themselves to learn new skills, delivering on what we say we’re going to do and we work with energy and passion.”
Notable community contributions
In terms of philanthropic activities and community support, Dr. Crews serves on a number of boards with universities and various economic development organizations. She has served as a mentor and the company is very involved in hiring interns from local colleges like the University of South Florida. Altogether, they’ve had over 40 interns over the years. Many go on to work full-time for CME. In addition, Dr. Crews has endowed a scholarship at Virginia Tech and contributed toward the building of Hernandez Hall at the University of Florida.
What it means to be a Florida Companies to Watch Honoree
“It’s a great honor,” she said. “The selection process had 500 companies submit applications, 93 finalists and only 50 honorees. Those selected were vetted against a large number of businesses. That’s a pretty awesome achievement. I think all employees, want to work for a good company. This is a third party saying, ‘you work for a good company’.
I think CME was selected because we’re in a growth mode right now. Also, our industry is the type of industry that people are looking to be supportive of. If you’re in manufacturing, engineering and/or technology, and you’re growing, then you’re given good consideration. In the end, it comes down to our great employees and programs like GrowFL which make the company what it is.”
Looking ahead, CME is focused on further diversification. Dr. Crews shared that many of her customers are in different states. As such, they often select closer companies due to convenience. By further diversifying, they’re more likely to be in an ‘up’ industry when others are ‘down’. As a smaller company, CME can’t afford not to be diversified. While CME continues to diversify their focus is squarely on the automotive and industrial industries.
Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs
What’s Dr. Crews’ advice for aspiring entrepreneurs hesitant to take the plunge? “Figure out why you’re reluctant,” she said. “Is it finance or lack of knowledge running a business? Whatever the case may be, there are numerous support organizations to help with things like business plans, finances and marketing. Also, grow your network as much as possible across a wide range of disciplines. Always be on the lookout for agencies or persons that can help you get your message out or help with a certain technical aspects of your business that you may not have knowledge or experience in. The biggest thing entrepreneurs should understand is the power of cash and financials in your business.”