Today we’d like to introduce you to Thom Snellings.
Thom, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’d always wanted to own my own business but I didn’t know what that would be. I graduated with high honors at UT-Arlington with a degree in business administration. I worked in several different industries but never felt at home. In the late 1980s, I took a position with Texas Carbide Service doing purchasing and accounting. Little did I know that would end up to be the beginning of my career in tooling. I worked there for several years and after owner Ray Woody passed, the company reorganized and I took a position in banking, which was boring and unfulfilling.
Later I was contacted by the former comptroller at TCS who wanted to open a similar business in Waco. I accepted the position with the promise that I would one day be a partner, but when it became obvious that wouldn’t happen, I quit. In January of 1997, I started Edge of Arlington Saw & Tool, focusing on new tool sales, primarily in the wood and plastic manufacturing industries.
It was rough in the beginning with no customer base, nor the resources to buy the equipment necessary to provide sharpening services, and aggressive competition. I started by looking up the SIC codes for all the cabinet and woodworking companies in Texas. I mailed out thousands of flyers and worked trade shows to get our name out there. At first it was just my sister Celia and me; we worked many long hours to establish a solid reputation in the industry.
We concentrated our effort on new tool sales, an area often overlooked in an industry dominated by large service companies who carried no inventory. When it became apparent that in order to grow we needed also to provide sharpening services, I contracted with my former employer at Texas Carbide to provide this service for our customers, at a discount to save. This worked very well and we continued to grow and hire sales staff.
Fifteen years later, Texas Carbide Owners Ray Woody, Jr. and his sister Robyn Romig contacted me with an offer of a lifetime. We worked out a deal where I purchased the assets of the company and hired their employees. In 2012 the entire staff of Texas Carbide Service joined ours and we moved our offices and inventory to their location. This combination makes us one of the better equipped shops in Texas. We now have a complete service center and manufacturing capabilities in addition to our large selection of standard tooling. Finally, all the pieces came together. And in January of this year, Edge of Arlington celebrated our twentieth anniversary and our fifth anniversary of merging with my former employer. This was the fulfillment of my American Dream.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Any business has its ups and downs. At first our primary challenges were securing credit and finding employees who were self-motivated. This led to long hours and months with no days off, which caused a lot of stress, and in addition to poor diet, led to a massive heart attack in March 2005. If not for the relationship with my loyal customers and vendors, and without the support of my family, Edge of Arlington would not have survived. However, with certain lifestyle changes and hard work, we were able to overcome these obstacles, and it made eoasaw a stronger company.
In addition, the housing crisis of 2009 was a very challenging time for our industry, which is tied closely with the housing market. However, since we reinvested profits in the business, and with little debt, Edge of Arlington was in a position to ride out the storm and take advantage of opportunities that propelled us to a new level. We watched as customers and vendors closed, even some that were in business for a hundred years or more; it has been a very troubled time in our industry, which is just beginning to recover.
During this time, we focused on identifying new opportunities in a changing industry and geared ourselves towards new technologies, such as CNC machinery that displaced many workers. We became a one-stop shop for all CNC needs. We put more emphasis on educating our customers on how to take advantage of the new technologies as we expanded into other industries. Since there was a lack of information available, I wrote a CNC manual and made it available to customers free of charge. We partnered with some of the machinery manufacturers, worked trade shows, and gave tooling classes, and eoasaw continued to expand its customer base.
Our competition was only interested in the big companies and ignored the small to medium sized customers—these became our backbone and the key to our survival.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Edge of Arlington Saw & Tool – what should we know?
Edge of Arlington has become a one-stop shop for all of your CNC and tooling needs. We have a large selection of tooling solutions. We can help in selecting the proper tool, determining feed & speed, maximizing machine time, and optimizing profits. We believe that our best customer is an educated one. Our website, eoasaw.com, is designed not only to sell but to provide necessary technical information. Customers are invited to download our free CNC manual, chip load calculator, or any of the many educational articles.
We also provide a complete line of woodworking tools including saw blades, panel saw blades, router bits, drill bits, custom molder knives, insert tooling, diamond tooling, shaper cutters, etc.—essentially, if it cuts, we have it, can make it, or refer you to someone who can help.
We have a complete service center and manufacturing capabilities in addition to our large selection of standard tooling. We have the machinery, the expertise, the vendors. From CNC routers to handheld power tools—we’ve experienced it. From Pine to Stainless steel—we’ve cut it. From drill bits to Panel Saws—we have it. From the custom cabinet maker to the mass manufacturer—we’ve called on it. Odds are eoasaw has it or can make it, and then service it.
I’m most proud of our reputation, and my employees and the relationship we have with our customers. We all work as a team and have the customer’s best interest in mind. We try to buy American-made products whenever possible. We represent some of the finest manufacturers in the world. Our philosophy is to do what’s best for the customer and everything else will take care of itself. Our motto is: Teamwork—together we can achieve the extraordinary.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
There are so many that it is difficult to name them all. I should start with my family, who have always had my back and took care of me when I needed them most. Especially my mom and my stepdad who helped to start the business with loans when the banks wouldn’t talk to me, and in addition, my mom worked in the office when I was in the hospital; my sister Celia, who was my first employee and my biggest supporter; my sister Kat Magendie, who is doing a wonderful job with my website while also balancing her editing and writing career.
The late Ray Woody and his wife Wanda, who I had the pleasure of working with initially; they taught me so much and I miss them both terribly. The late Ray Woody, Jr., and Robyn Romig (owner of American Granite), who took over from their parents. I learned so much from them all and they were a great support—I could not have done it without them all.
My loyal employees, most of whom have worked with me ten years or more; specifically, Jeff, who held things together after my heart attack. Chris, my shop foreman; John, my office manager. Sidney, Mike, Tommy, Melissa, Bennie, Shane, Art, Robert, Anna, Robare, Gary, and others throughout the years. I’ve been blessed with an outstanding team who have always put the business and customers first.
But most of all I need to thank my customers and vendors, many who have been loyal to me since Day One. Without them, I have nothing.
- Address: 124 s. Collins
Arlington, Texas 76010
- Website: www.eoasaw.com
- Phone: 817-461-7171
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/eoasaw/