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Business Monthly - CNC lasers a roadmap to growth
John and Zach Wilson.jpg
Pictured are John Wilson and Zach Wilson of Wilson Cutting Systems in front of new Amanda CNC fiber optic laser.

Wilson Cutting Systems Inc. of 246 Mountain View Industrial Drive in Morrison was formed in 2010 and began operations in 2011.

In nine years, this manufacturing firm has grown to 49 employees working two shifts doing in excess of $5 million in annual sales. Hands-on owner John Wilson advises that the company business is running at max capacity in this 65,000-square-foot building.

Plant employees work four, 10-hour days from 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday thru Thursday (first shift) and three, 12-hour days on Monday thru Wednesday (second shift) from 4:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. This schedule allows for overtime as needed Thursday night, Friday, Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday (rare). The company has been working full overtime over the last 10 weeks.

Wilson Cutting had 30 employees one year ago.  

Key equipment used at Wilson Cutting Systems includes three, 4-kilowatt CNC lasers – two Trumpf CO2 lasers, one Mitsubishi and one new $1 million Amada 9kw fiber optic laser. Trumpf is a leading machine tool builder from Germany while Amada is Japanese.

All four lasers have automatic shuttle tables cycling materials in and out of the machining cell allowing up to a 90% laser cutting efficiency which is very high productivity. 

The company also has five CNC press brakes from 35 ton to 175 ton. There are also 18 manual welding stations and two robotic welding cells with two Fanuc robots in each with automatic part positioners. The company also maintains assembly areas. 

The company invested in a new powder coating line in January 2019. Now 60% to 70% of its contracted parts are shipped with powder coating. There are less than 10 Amada 9 kw fiber optic lasers in Tennessee with the closest located in Chattanooga. Other than Wilson’s unit, the others are in West Tennessee.  

The benefit of a fiber optic laser is cutting speed and edge quality. This laser can cut material up to 3,000 inches per minute cutting rate, which is extremely fast. The cut edge has no oxidation that is experienced with a CO2 laser, meaning such a fiber optic cut part can go directly to powder coating. This laser does require a higher amount of nitrogen gas, but the productivity gain more than offset the cost.  

Wilson Cutting Systems utilizes SolidWorks 3D CAD design software which is used for all part production and drawing documentation – all factory orders in their plant involves computer-generated documentation.  This documentation goes with the shipment to the customer.  

The company uses Pro-Nest computer-generated nesting software to maximize material yields. The Trumpf CNC lasers use Siemens CNC controls which is also German.   Wilson Cutting Systems brings close tolerance machining to its customers – holding a 0.004” tolerance on piece parts, hole locations, etc.  

They use their lasers to fabricate checking and holding fixtures to help support close tolerances to ensure quality. Maximum sheet metal size is 60” by 120”; max thickness is 1” for steel and ½” for stainless and aluminum; max weight is 2,000 pounds.  

Lead time for a new order to be received and shipped is normally three to five days, with 24 hours common. Same-day service can be achieved if necessary. The company has up to 20 truckloads of different materials ranging from 16 gauge to ¾” on-hand to facilitate fast delivery.  

The management staff at Wilson Cutting Systems is as follows:

John Wilson – owner, president

Zach Wilson (brother) – engineering manager and laser maintenance technician

Josh Livesay – plant manager

Zach Molloy – estimating and robotics

Kenny Green – sales manager

I asked John why somebody should want to work at Wilson Cutting Systems.  He advised the following:

• Hands-on active owner

• Employees treated equally, open-door policy

• Employees can seek new positions, training

• Opportunities for promotion

• Management team brings experience, leadership, dependability and integrity

Starting wage can vary but the beginning hourly rate for basic laborers is $10/hr; laser operators is $12/hr; and welders is $15/hr. 

Interested job applicants can apply in person at the plant or on-line at The company offers a competitive fringe benefit package including healthcare, supplemental health insurance, and paid vacation after one year.  

On-the-job training is offered to employees as well as pertinent factory training schools.  The company did a thorough update of their website this year. Their sales manager reaches out on a 200-mile radius to seek new customers or additional business from existing customers.

A unique capability is the creation of rapid tooling through 3D modeling. This can be done within 24 hours and uses their lasers to facilitate. This greatly accelerates new project quoting and/or job start-up. The company does own its own truck and trailer for same-day deliveries to customers.  

Primary markets for the company are automotive and distribution services with the latter being robust due to the coronavirus pandemic. Other markets include agriculture, display, and marine (trailers). The company can serve production requirements as well as short runs.  

Wilson Cutting Systems has come a long way from one CNC plasma cutter in John and Zach’s father’s garage in 2011. This is an exciting growing business in our community with a young, enthused management team.  

It is great when a locally owned manufacturing business prospers. BRAC congratulates the team at Wilson Cutting Systems.