A Columbus business owner who took over a family startup business and continued to expand it will talk shop with other entrepreneurial individuals who might find inspiration to launch their own enterprises.
Turner’s Machining Specialties, now located at 820 Repp Drive, was started in 1977 in the basement of the family home by Morris Turner, who had just retired from Cummins after 37 years.
The business has expanded several times since, and today the company specializes in creating low-volume pieces for local manufacturers, in addition to medical and aerospace industries.
Barry Turner, who leads the company as its president and owner, will speak during the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce’s SPARK series 5 p.m. Nov. 30 at Hotel Indigo.
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Turner, who lives in Columbus and graduated from Columbus North High School in 1977, earned a degree from Purdue University in mechanical engineering. That led to opportunities with large companies such as Timpen Bearing Co. and Garrett Turbochargers.
But Turner decided to make a career change — one that would return him to his hometown.
Morris Turner had asked all five of his children on Christmas Day 1987 whether any of them would be interested in coming to work for him, the son said.
As an outside job applicant would, Barry Turner sent his father a resume and cover letter expressing his interest and began working for the company the following summer.
“For the next two years, it was just the two of us in the basement of his house,” Turner said.
But growth of the business resulted in the purchase of a 2,500-square-foot building on Cherry Street and a non-family employee hired in 1990, Turner said. The company’s current 10,000-square-foot building was purchased in 1994 and expanded four years later.
Barry Turner, who oversaw development, sales and other matters tied to the business with his father, said he feels fortunate to have worked with his dad for 20 years. The experience also helped him take away some important life lessons, he said.
“My father always told me to deliver something that was more than the customer expected,” Turner said of his father, who stayed with the business until 2005. “I’m really proud of what my father did. Every day I see his impact here.”
Turner Machining Specialties continues to make inroads into new markets, including the aerospace industry. Turner, 58, credits the work of his 20 employees that make it successful.
But they share success with the boss.
One of them is Rebecca Powers, who has been a machine operator for Turner for the past year
“Barry’s a great person to work for,” Powers said. “He’s a really good guy, fair with everybody.”
Turner’s son, Alex, also works at Turner’s Machining Specialties as the company’s quality manager, also credited his father’s dedication to the business.
“He’s never given up,” Alex Turner said. “He’s very patient.”
Incidentally, the third-generation Turned didn’t have to submit a resume to join the firm.
Beyond the machining shop, Barry Turner keeps busy with other entrepreneurial ventures.
In 2007, Turner was approached by a surgeon in Philadelphia who had a patent on equipment that resulted in Turner designing and developing a prototype for a minimally invasive surgery for spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is described as a narrowing of spaces within the spinal canal, according to the Mayo Clinic website.
Turner designed the spinal implant and the instruments required to do the procedure.
Turner also serves as chairman and sits on the board of directors for a Bloomington-based company, Innovative Surgical Designs, which focuses on helping patients who have spinal stenosis.
“I’m proud of what we’ve developed, value the relationships with my employees and customers and am still excited to come in everyday and address the challenges,” he said.
He also offered some advice for individuals looking to become successful.
“Find something that no one else wants to do and do it better than someone else,” he said.
What: Columbus Chamber of Commerce’s SPARK series
When: 5 p.m. Nov. 30
Where: Hotel Indigo, 400 Brown St.
More information: Register online by visiting columbusareachamber.com or by calling 812-379-4457.
About Turner’s Machining Specialties
Founding: 1977 by Morris Turner, who retired that year after a 37-year career at Cummins. Currently operated by Barry Turner, Morris’ son, who is company president.
Location: 10,000-square-foot facility at 820 Repp Drive, Columbus