July 8, 2014

The Morning Sun

Owning his own machine shop has been Joseph Bork’s passion for decades.

“I took an interest in machines when I took [a] first [high school] shop class back when I was 15,” Bork said. “I’ve wanted my own shop ever since then.”

That dream became a reality when Bork Machine & Repair opened on June 9 in Mount Pleasant.

The shop is located in the garage of Bork’s home on 1141 River Road.

“There’s no commute whatsoever. It saves me on gas money,” Bork said.

It also allows Bork to see his family more. Bork has been married to his wife, Tanya, for 11 years. They have two children, Joseph Jr., 11, and Jake, 7.

Bork said that while he can handle various types of machinery, his specialty is dealing with custom metals, such as replacing or repairing machine parts that are obsolete or aren’t made anymore.

“I’ll do multiple-piece work, but I like doing unique, one-of-a-kind pieces. Once I make it, that’s the only one in the world,” Bork said.

Bork said that once he sees a machine part, he’s confident that he can recreate it.

“Usually they’ll [a customer] pull the old part out, and I can get enough information off that old part to [be able] make a new one, if it’s not too badly torn or worn out.”

Bork also creates prototypes for those seeking to test out an invention that they have created.

“I’ve dealt with a lot of prototyping.[He has made prototypes for] people that are inventing stuff and they need the first one made,” Bork said.

Bork said 25 years of machine working has served to prepare him for his handling his own business.

“I’m confident enough that I have the experience,” Bork said. “I’ve repaired everything from a mower deck to making $50,000 plastic injection mold dyes down in Detroit,”

While he hasn’t received any customers in the two weeks since his business has opened, Bork said “it’s a matter of time.”

In the meantime, Bork has been working at Rise Machine Company, located on 905 N Kinney Ave., where he’s been employed for the last 11 years.

Bork said that while he enjoys working at Rise because the variety of work ensures that “no two days are the same,” he is easing into his role as a business owner and hopes to eventually work at his own shop full-time in about a year.

“They understand that I’m starting my own business, and I’m eventually not going to be there anymore,” Bork said.

Rise Machine Company Owner K.C. Rise is proud of Bork for striking out on his own.

“I think it’s a good thing, because every guy should try to better themselves,” Rise said. “I wish more guys would do it.”

Bork received assistance in starting his own business through different groups that help entrepreneurs with various business needs, including the Central Michigan University Research Corporation.

Elissa Richmond, the marketing and public relations director for the CMURC, said they helped Bork with concerns such as finances, determining what market Bork should go into, creating marketing materials like brochures, making the shop’s website, and getting in touch with and interacting with other small busness owners, amongst other factors.

“He’s an expert in his industry, but when it came down to the details of running a business he needed some assistance,” Richmond said.

Richmond said that the nonprofit organization was particularly interested in Bork’s prototyping abilities and his potential to assist other entrepreneurs with invention ideas.

“The reason we worked with Joseph was to bridge the gap between full-scale manufacturing and prototyping,” Bork said.

Richmond explains that while larger manufacturers often require a substantial minimum order of prototypes, Bork could make a smaller number of prototypes, reducing the cost.

“This allows entrepreneurs to produce a small amount of prototypes so they can test the market,” Richmond said.

Bork’s rates start at $50 an hour, and “then it goes up from there depending on complexity and precision required.”

It’s not all about the money for Bork, however.

“The money thing is a bonus, but this is something I love,” Bork said.

Bork’s Machine & Repair is open from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and by appointment on weekends.