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Damon had a hunch that there was more potential just waiting to be tapped. “I was always really hungry for unique, ground-breaking ways to improve technology in woodworking shops, whether through more accurate measuring devices, or propulsion systems or brushless motor technology, or better battery technology,” he says.
“We began to understand the manufacturer strengths and weaknesses; we understood the consumers’ applications.”
Wood Werks rapidly became one of the most successful small-format CNC router dealers in America.
In 2014 Damon launched the Axiom Tool Group, with the goal of empowering users by modernizing the technology of their antiquated woodworking shops. By that point, Damon had been deeply immersed in the woodworking industry for twenty-five years, providing him with key advantages for success, such as “an intimate knowledge of our customers’ needs.” He applied this knowledge as they set out to change the industry by designing a full range of small-format CNC routers from the ground up.
Though Wood Werks had taken a large portion of the market share, he says he always treated competitors with respect, even exploring ways to work in tandem with them whenever possible. That reputation paid off: when it was time to introduce the new Axiom CNC routers to Wood Werks’ competitors, they reacted enthusiastically to the idea of joining forces and distributing these exciting new machines.
“I’ve not received any greater compliment than that, because these were organizations which I had spent years competing quite effectively against. But we had done so respectfully and honestly. They were learning from us. I was learning from them,” says the 53-year-old.
The move was a game-changer: no longer would a consumer need to overpay for a good CNC machine, or sacrifice quality to accommodate their budget. Today, a young generation of talented users can afford an industrial-quality machine at an entry-level price “which allows their dream to turn into a reality.”
“We knew customer applications really well. We designed a better machine. We took it to market through the best distributors in the industry. And we serviced customers’ socks off. It was the perfect storm, the perfect recipe for success.”
Damon touts that the company is now sitting atop the small format CNC market, both in sales volume, and customer feedback. The reviews are overwhelmingly positive…Customers LOVE their Axiom machines. Currently, Axiom sells in a month what they once sold in a year, with nearly $10 million in annual revenue. They are growing at just short of 30 percent, year over year, with no reprieve in sight, he says.
Many proud customers share and show off their creations online via Axiom’s social media channels.
“There is no better marketing than that of an end-user bragging about the machine that they bought, and who they bought it from. Aside from the cost of their home or vehicle, their CNC router may be the largest investment they have ever made. They rave about it, its capabilities, its fit and finish.”
Still, for Damon, his biggest source of pride isn’t engineering the pieces of machinery; rather, it’s assembling what he refers to as a “team of rock stars” who bring their passion to their work. “It’s the men and women that are representing this company and establishing relationships with, and supporting our loyal customers every day. I am truly humbled to work among this talented and inspiring group of individuals.”
When it’s time to take a breather from his global influence, he’s often sitting back and enjoying a bourbon, and soft music, while appreciating his eclectic collection of vintage automobiles in his car barn, or amidst the tranquility of his vacation home in Northport, Michigan. Some of those rare beauties on wheels date back almost a hundred years.
“Many represent significant milestones in global manufacturing and design, while others are just plain fun. I love them all the same, but for different reasons. I think the lessons that I’ve learned through collecting and maintaining a broad range of vintage automobiles absolutely impacts the quality and engineering of the products that we take to market,” he says proudly.
“Someone sat with a blank piece of paper and penned these beautiful pieces of art. A team of skilled craftsman then took that drawing and actually turned it into a three-dimensional object that could be subjected to power and deliver people to another location. It's fascinating to me, how these rolling pieces of artwork came to be. I just enjoy the artistry and engineering of it all.”
“For some of us, our hearts beat a little faster when in the presence of an iconic vintage automobile.”
But he is quick to point out that “they’re not there as trophies to my success. They are a monument to my passion for well-designed mechanical things,” he insists. “I appreciate the nuances in how they were engineered. I think part of that somehow fuels my passion, this relentless drive to never settle.”.
All in all, that drive, and passion has led Damon to become a key player in the democratization of CNC router technology, offering the home hobbyist access to the elite tools that were once only available to the multinational corporations.
“The impact this will have — there are textbooks written on the Industrial Revolution, but I think we are overlooking the reality that these highly accurate, highly capable machines are now finding their way into garages and basements of an immensely talented group of young makers, who are undoubtedly going to produce products which will change the world.”
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