(TubeShark II | Photo Courtesy of ISCO Industrial Service Company)
Three Generations of Bend Family Sees Machine Shop Thrive From 1973 Origins
Three generations of a Bend family with deep roots in the area have provided a blueprint for success in the machining industry.
The origins of ISCO Manufacturing Solutions, currently housed in a close to 20,000-square-foot location off NE Empire, stretch back to 1973 when General Manager Craig Allen Gribskov’s grandfather, Les, started the enterprise in a small shop in South East Bend, with an emphasis on mill repair supporting the region’s burgeoning timber business.
The family’s long-standing ties to the local community were already in evidence even well before this time, when the senior Gribskov’s sister, Maren, along with Eleanor Bechen founded what became Bend’s premier landmark restaurant, The Pine Tavern, in 1936. At a time when the country was just barely pulling itself out of the Great Depression, these enterprising and courageous women built a thriving business serving a growing population of timber industry workers and their families, before selling to the next operator in 1967.
Later, current ISCO GM Gribskov’s father, Craig, who still holds the title of company president, next joined the machining business, and helped move more in the direction of secondary wood products equipment as the lumber industry matured.
As times changed, the third generation came to the fore when current operational leader Craig Allen Gribskov, who was a Bend High graduate, came on board, some 20 years ago, and led a diversification into the emerging aerospace, medical and other fields, which continues to this day.
Filling a contract manufacturer “job shop” niche — featuring multiple general purpose machines capable of performing many different types of operations to produce a wide variety of products with small lot sizes — including assembly and fabrication, over its 47-year history ISCO has provided precision CNC* machine work, design and manufacturing services to an ever-widening variety of industries including electronics, medical equipment, aerospace and industrial manufacturers.
Craig Allen Gribskov commented, “We combine our many years of experience with state-of-the-art technology to offer our customers the best product and service value available.
“Our quality and reliability really form the foundation of the long-term business relationships we have enjoyed.
“We are ISO certified, which speaks to our quality management standards, and continually invest significantly in new equipment to stay ahead of the curve competitively, with recent additions including large capacity 5-Axis Milling, and high-pressure water jet cutting representing the latest in technology to further enhance the quality and productivity of our services.”
Featuring small manufacturing systems that handle job production in custom or semi-custom/bespoke manufacturing processes such as small to medium-size customer orders or batch jobs, the ISCO shop is efficiently laid out, with similar equipment or functions grouped together, such as all drill presses in one area and grinding machines in another in a functional process layout, designed to minimize material handling, cost and work in process inventories.
The range of equipment utilized offers flexibility to change set-ups on the various machines very quickly, prioritizing quality, speed of product delivery, customization and new product introduction, and when an order arrives in the job shop, the part being worked on travels throughout the various areas according to a sequence of operations.
Gribskov said the company currently has a workforce of around 20, forming a ”great crew” of experienced highly skilled craft employees who can operate several different classes of machinery. He added, “For over 40 years ISCO has developed staff, equipment and facilities to provide the very best capabilities for our customers”.
ISCO machining services include CNC Milling & Turning, Conventional Milling & Turning, Grinding, Vibratory Finishing, CNC Lathes and Mills, as well as manual lathes, mills grinders and saws.
On the fabrication front, the shop has extensive experience in working with metals, plastics and composites for the aerospace, electronics, medical, industrial and construction industries and is fully equipped to meet customer requirements from prototype to production.
Gribskov added, “We have a good niche and are always ready for the next challenge. We have been involved with all kinds of industries and are not afraid to tackle anything and enjoy figuring it out.”
As part of expanding the company’s reach, some 15 years ago Gribskov also acquired the rights to two additional lines known as the “TubeShark” and “Accu-Tapper” to which he oversaw minor modifications to improve efficiency, which are now manufactured in Bend under the name GRB Innovations.
He said the TubeShark tube bender is ideal for the fabrication shop, home shop, race car, aircraft builder or anyone who needs a practical and affordable precision tube bender providing quality bends in the shop or in the field, in a wide variety of materials without distortion, “equal to machines costing thousands more”.
The Accu-Tapper is similarly suited for any industry, be it die casting, sheet metal, plastics or machine shop and is equipped with a 1/3-HP, 1725-RPM electric motor, capable of easily tapping steel up to 1/4-20. On the other end of the scale, the Accu-Tapper taps even the smallest holes with fewer broken taps, thanks to the design of the sliding backing plate that holds the true relationship between workpiece and tap.
*CNC — short for “computer numerical control” machining — is a manufacturing process in which pre-programmed computer software dictates the movement of factory tools and machinery. The process can be used to control a range of complex machinery, from grinders and lathes to mills and routers and three-dimensional cutting tasks can be accomplished in a single set of prompts according to particular specifications.