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October 29, 2015     Cheney Free Press
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October 29, 2015
 

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CHENEY FREE PRESS Thursday, October 29, 2015 in li Second generation machine shop in business to be problem solver By PAUL DELANEY Staff Reporter It's not called Specialty Machining just because that was the first name that came to the mind of company founder Wayne Hagel. The business located on Geiger Bou- levard along Interstate 90 near Spokane International Airport has been taking on the challenges others might not want to - or hadn'r even thought of - for nearly a half century. "Dad kind of started the business on the back of self-cleaning plywood lathe chucks," owner Rod Hagel said. A lathe chuck goes on each end of an 8-foot section of a log when it is turned into thin sheets of wood that are laminated to make plywood. But in the 1960s those trees that were full of pitch would scatter wood ships during the peeling process. The two elements combined and made a mess that was next to impossible to clean. The lathe had to be stopped every few hours and workers used hammers, screwdriv- ers and chisels to clean them. "Dad came up with these and he sold them for 40 years," Hagel said. The last pair came out of the shop in 1999. With the help of the device, the lathes averaged a log in and a log out every five seconds. When Hagel recent- ly visited the last customer, the Boise Cascade mill in Kettle Falls, Wash., he wondered how things were going: He saw the lathe manufacturers had finally employed similar technology. "It took the plywood lathe manu- facturers about 40 years to catch up," Hagel said. Specialty Machining was founded in 1972 by Wayne Hagel. He had learned Photo by Paul Delaney Rod Hagel is the second generation of his family to make miracles happen out of chunks of metal. his trade working years for Washington Machinery in Spokane. WayneHagel initially worked out of the garage of his home, just west of the present shop and the place Hagel and family still live. Wayne Hagel passed away in 2009. A trip to Specialty Machining is a crash course in all things threads and gears where one learns the difference between it all. Hagel, 54, learned the business, he said, "From Dad and the Lord, work- Petroleum) in Alaska, the job of a life- ing in here part tim4 in junior high, time," Hagel said. "About six years high. school and college. He attended and graduated from Cheney schools in 1979 and earned a degree in mechani- cal engineering from Washington State University in 1984. "I went to work for BP (British lat6r dad's partner was going to retire and he wanted me to work with him." Hagel joined his father in the business in 1990. Hagel said he loved working with his dad. "For me it was the experience of a lifetime and I wouldn't trade it for anything." "When I came to work here in '90 it was twice as much fun as the best engineering job in the world I could imagine for myself," Hagel said. "I'm engineering and I'm working with my dad." Hagel, who has five grown children, knows the business will not likely be transferred tO a third generation. His oldest, 28, worked in the Shop 10 years ago but has not been back. Another dabbled in it from time to time but de- termined it was not for him. The projects scattered about the shop range from building replacement gears for an Edwall-area farmer's tractor tO parts for hardware supplier Jensen-Byrd. And all of them are turned out with vintage machining equipment, some of which dates back to the 1920s. Besides the plywood chucks, Spe- cialty has found various additional niches through the years, all of it very specialized and custom in nature. Hagel worked for the city of Medical Lake to build parts for their wastewater treatment plant's lagoon mixer. A mine in the Silver Valley approached Hagel for a fix on an exclusive piece of ma- chinery. A retrofit suggested by another company just was not going to work. Ironically, the lone piece of com- puter-aided equipment, a computerized numerically controlled, or CNC, sits idle and is a catch-all for this and that. It ran for about 10 years but the 1990-model sits silent in a corner. "I've had electronic problems with it." Hagel can no longer find circuit boards, or even the parts for the boards, he said incredulously. "This has been a great toy but it hasn't made me hardly any money, if at all," Hagel said. Paul Delaney can be reached at pdelaney@cheneyfreepress.com. for equipment But Ritchie Brothers Auc- tions has found a crop that can temporarily turn serious money out of several acres of land the company occupies along Inter- state 90. A used equipment sale that takes place Friday, Nov. 13 will move between 200-300 pieces of equipment that is slowly being assembled along Geiger Boule- vard, RB Auctions territory sales manager, Josh Lubig, said. This area last hosted a sale in 2011. "We've been in Pasco for the last couple of years," Lubig said. "We were founded in the Van- couver, B.C. area by the Ritchie Brothers back in the 1950s," with the present company forming out of a furniture business, Lubig explained. The company had a bank note on a building they bought and sold furniture through an auc- tion. That led to handling the liquidation of a trucking com- pany and they realized it was much more profitable to sell a $10,000 truck than a sofa worth a fraction of that. And so was born a company that has expanded operations worldwide, has conducted 350- plus auctions and did over $4 billion in business last year. "We're the Barrett-Jackson of the equipment world," Lubig said, referring to the company that auctions exotic automobiles. The focus of the business shifted entirely to equipment in the 1960s and 1970s. "The lumber industry went through a lot of changes and there were a lot of mill liquidations," Lubig said. Farm sales were the next to be part of the Ritchie Broth- ers fold. "In the Northwest we have a main office in Chehalis, (Wash.)," Lubig said. That's a permanent auction facility with a 200-acre lot that is all enclosed and in- cludes theater seating. A recent auction there had buyers from 43 different coun- tries, and all of the continental le Photo by Paul Delaney Josh Lubig and one of the mon- ster pieces of equipment that will be auctioned by Ritchie Brothers Nov. 13. United States and Canada as bidders can submit offers on the Internet. Some 1,700 items sold at a value of $14 million in just six hours. "We were done by 2 p.m.," Lubig said. "When the bids come in you see Nevada, Mexico, you see Michigan (online), and a guy in the crowd puts his hand up," See RB Auctions page 9 DR. JACOB. RIDL FAMILY DENTISTRY Welcome Len em locations Call lout special petty, business inccti z!' iskatual dinmct or amy cvcmtin out bannalUCl rooms? 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