You may not be familiar with the company called Lifetime. But chances are, you own products that are designed and manufactured by them.
This is especially true if you are an avid outdoor enthusiast, as Lifetime makes such products as swing sets, lawn chairs, picnic tables, storage sheds, kayaks, tent trailers, and basketball hoops, to name a few. Founded in 1986 and headquartered in Clearfield, Utah, Lifetime Products, Inc. is a world leading manufacturer, with products sold in more than 70 countries. At corporate headquarters today, Lifetime occupies more than 2.6 million square feet spread over 21 buildings, staffed with more than 1500 employees. From its inception, Lifetime has applied innovation and cutting-edge technology in plastics and metals to develop innovative products with superior strength and durability. Today, the company holds hundreds of patents for its innovative designs and products. It remains privately owned and debt-free. When asked how Lifetime continues to thrive with design, engineering and manufacturing largely in the United States, long-term employee and Machine Shop manager Kelly Martinez (25 years tenure) says, “We have superior design engineers, and an entire team of employees that are dedicated to coming up with innovative ideas for new products and product improvements. We know that innovation isn’t a luxury - it’s a necessity for our growth.” Kelly continued, “Early on in our existence, we set up our own engineering department and our own machine shop. Since we do all of our own mold and tool and die making in-house (we even make many of the machines needed for our operations), we save time and money. In the past, when we’ve outsourced tooling to a 3rd party, the tooling time increased 2 to 3 fold.” With all design and manufacturing under their control, products typically move from design to production in under a year. New design ideas often come from the suggestion boxes that are installed throughout the Lifetime campus. The Utah-based state-of-the-art facility houses some of the industry’s most innovative equipment. Lifetime Metals is the region’s leading supplier of processed steel. From slitting and leveling, to roll forming, tube milling and stamping, their trained and certified staff manufactures quality, custom steel products at an exceptional value. The machine shop, staffed by 21 experienced machinists, is an integral part of Lifetime’s business. Kelly says, “We believe in buying new machines, and we always buy quality machines. But perhaps the important criteria we use in our machine tool selection is the service support we can expect. Our machines just can’t go down.”
Kelly and the machine shop team have a long history with Smith Machinery, and the Mazak machine tool line. In fact, they purchased their first Mazak more than 20 years ago, and only in the last few months did they sell that machine to make room for a new Mazak. Kelly says the 23-year old Mazak is still going strong, and was sold to a small local job shop. Today the company owns 4 Mazak vertical machining centers, including 2 NEXUS VNC-510Cs, a NEXUS VCS-410A, a VTC-300C, and one lathe, a Mazak QuickTurn NEXUS (QTN) 300 turning Center.
The team says that they continue to purchase Mazak Machines from Smith Machinery for a number of reasons: • Reliability, accuracy, durability and ease of use. • Powerful Mazak controls equipped with both Mazatrol conversational programming and G-Code programming. • Outstanding service, both from Smith Machinery and Mazak direct. Kelly says Clark Smith, owner of Smith Machinery, and his team just care more about their customers than many other machine tool dealers. • Superiority in consistently holding the tight tolerances that Lifetime requires for their tool steel parts. • All of the Mazak machines in Lifetime’s Machine Shop are made in Florence, Kentucky. Last year, two of their programmers visited Mazak’s facilities to see how their machines are manufactured. This is important to Lifetime, as they also strive to maximize their manufacturing facilities in the United States. Kelly says, “We love companies that promote jobs in this country.”
Lifetime’s latest machine tool purchase is a Mitsubishi MV1200S, Mitsubishi’s next generation high performance Wire EDM, which was installed last month. Though the company has other wire EDM machines, it was their first Mitsubishi purchase. Kelly says, “We had 3 different manufacturers perform competitive test cuts for our evaluation, and the Mitsubishi came out on top. It took 1/3 less time to cut the part, and it used 1/3 less wire consumption for a comparable finish and accuracy.” He continued, “Since it was our first for Mitsubishi, we contacted some local shops that owned Mitsubishi EDM’s. Not only did they love their machines, but they also stressed that the service support was outstanding. Mitsubishi has a staff of more than a dozen service engineers throughout the western United States to support their customers. This made our purchase decision easy.”
Lifetime’s machine shop largely manufactures products for its own use. But, Kelly says, “We support a number of external customers with our roll forming (odd shape, rounds, square), and our blow molding capabilities.” Contact Lifetime for your roll forming and blow molding needs today. They can be reached at: (801) 776-1532, and you can learn more about their outdoor living products at lifetime.com.
HISTORY OF LIFETIME In the beginning, all Barry Mower, founder of Lifetime Products, wanted was a sturdier basketball pole for his backyard. With this in mind, he found and purchased a piece of heavy-duty used pipe, a sheet of plywood, and a basketball rim. The result was a basketball standard for his backyard. That was in 1972. Seeing the potential that others might also desire a quality basketball system in their yards, he placed an ad in the “Big Nickel,” the local free classified newspaper, and made his first sale. The rest — as they say — is history.
Not too many years after selling his first basketball system, he created the American PlayWorld company in 1973, which he based in his garage located in Riverdale, Utah. Gradually this store kept expanding into many more types of playground equipment, and was eventually moved to a bigger location in South Ogden, Utah.
Several years later, the company transformed the basketball industry with the introduction of the Quick Adjust basketball pole — the first complete basketball system you could raise up and down with a broomstick. In March 1986, a separate company was created to concentrate specifically on manufacturing adjustable basketball systems. This new company was named Lifetime Products, the name inspired by the goal of building a durable, lasting product.
Article courtesy of A2Z Metalworker
41 West Guest Avenue Salt Lake City, UT 84115 Phone: 801-263-6403 Fax: 801-263-6404 Email: email@example.com