Head of Sales Passes Ball Around Company’s Operating Companies

Jim Miller joined Compass nearly two years ago as the firm’s Vice President of Sales. Much has changed in a mere twenty-four months. We recently chatted with Jim to get an inside glimpse on Compass and his role with its expansion.

You have been in the machining and fabrication business nearly your entire career. What makes Compass different?
It’s the business model. Compass is composed of multiple high-performance machine shops, all with their own unique capabilities. We offer precision machining using 5-axis mills, multi-tasking mill/turn units, EDM machines, sheet metal fabrication and welding. Additionally, we have a vast array of other high-end vertical and horizontal mills, plus lathes, many with serious automation. If a customer needs precision components, chances are we have that capability somewhere within Compass.

Aren’t there competitors that offer similar capabilities?
There are a few. But most are companies with one big shop, lots of equipment and people in one place. Our experience is that many customers prefer to be served by smaller, nimble shops located close by, just like ours. It’s easier for us to react quickly, getting both quotes and parts out faster than anyone else. And if a customer needs a capability that our local shop does not have, it is easy for us to outsource that requirement to a brother/sister company within Compass.

What role do you play for Compass?
To use a sports analogy, I’m like the point guard. With new customers, I take the lead and direct traffic by putting that customer in the best position to succeed through our unique strategy. It’s super rewarding when that strategy leads to a big win!

Ok, is your point guard role any different now than is it was when you joined Compass?
It is more fun because I have a greater number of “assist” opportunities, meaning more great shops to pass quoting opportunities to. It’s a bit more challenging, as I need to distribute the “ball” in many directions and all our companies want their shots. When I started, Compass had three operating companies. Now we have seven. And with the four shops we acquired, we added significant additional high-end machining capabilities. It’s like I have Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant on the wings of a fast break. The odds of scoring are pretty darn good!

What is the culture like within Compass?
Staying with the sports analogy, it’s a “team first” attitude at Compass. We all work together to provide quick answers and solutions for our customers and operating companies. Compass doesn’t have a “top heavy” management structure. We’re lean and creative. Our customer base is exacting with projects that are time critical and they don’t have the luxury of waiting. We are sensitive to their needs and understand the urgency. We execute quickly and precisely, and our customers appreciate that.

What about internal investment in new machines? Has Compass been doing that, too?
Yes, we have and in a big way. A major spoke in our business model wheel is investment in new equipment. In 2022 we spent over 4 million dollars on state-of-the-art machines that have opened capacity and throughput across the board. This is an integral part of our growth strategy and what separates Compass from the competition. We plan on continuing that trend in ’23.

Finally, with everything you have told us about Compass, what is the one thing a potential customer should know about your company?
We are here for the long haul and we’re just getting started. We want to be the best we can be by providing a myriad of solutions for our discerning customer base. Compass and our companies are built on a solid foundation of integrity, strong work ethic, transparency, and absolute service to our valued customers and it shows.

One more thing. Rumor has it that you share something in common with Gary Holcomb, Compass’s CEO, from your college days. What is it?
We were both social chairmen of our fraternities, me at UCLA with Sigma Nu and Gary at Cornell with Kappa Delta Rho. Though Gary has the Ivy pedigree, I was also our house’s president, a position Gary didn’t hold.  So, I remind him from time to time … hahaha…

To reach out to Jim directly, you can email him at jim.miller@compassprecision.com. Or just call his cell (714-227-2295). For more information about Compass, please contact CEO Gary Holcomb directly at gary.holcomb@compassprecision.com.