The History of Caron Engineering
It's all about the timing. In late 1986 after the company he worked for closed, Rob Caron already had a vision. He noticed that something was missing in the CNC machining industry. As he found himself looking for work, he also found himself in a position to fill a niche in the marketplace. So with Rob's electrical engineering background, combined with the exemplary business operating skills of Carolyn Caron-Stratos, it made sense for them to start out on their own forming Caron Engineering, Inc.
And what was that niche in the market that needed to be filled? The machine tool industry had a common problem which was determining when tools were worn or broken and needed a way to take the human factor out of determining this. Rob's Tool Monitoring System (TMS) was born. TMS, as it turns out, was a much better choice of product name, in terms of acronyms, than the previously used Power Monitoring System, or PMS. So with his background in probes and probe software, electronic gauging interfaces, and first class customer service, Rob and Carol started Caron Engineering, Inc (CEI). In January of 1987 Rob negotiated his first contract to produce CNC gauge interfaces for CNC controls with Valenite's Digital Techniques division.
Carol was, and still is, the backbone of the company. Rob easily admits he would not have been successful in this venture had it not been for Carol. She has an extensive background in banking, insurance, taxes, payroll, and all of the things needed to run the business on a daily basis. In a recent interview Rob said "Caron Engineering wouldn't be what it is without her".
Caron Engineering became the first software development company of its kind and Rob quickly became known in the machine tool industry as the "go to guy" for specialized software applications relating to CNC machining.
Erny Tarling, Joel Tessier, and Steve LaPalme were some of the first employees to be hired. It was with their dedication and hard work that CEI began to flourish and establish its reputation.
Long-time employees have a unique perspective on working at Caron Engineering.
Steve LaPalme said, "Nothing speaks louder about how a company treats its employees than how long they retain them. At Caron Engineering, once you're an employee, you're an employee for life. Caron Engineering exemplifies dedicated, honest, friendly, people working toward the same goal of providing innovative products and exceptional service"
Erny Tarling wrote: I want to thank Rob and Carol for the wonderful memories of working at Caron Engineering since the beginning. I remember my first day of work in a basement, and then in the store front in downtown Wells. We finally moved into our own building on the hottest day of that summer.
As CEI expanded, its philosophy was to hire people right out of school, train them in "the Caron Engineering way" and mold them into employees that are confident, well-versed, and empowered. This philosophy has worked well considering the positive feedback CEI gets from so many of its customers, dealers, and business partners. When asked what they look for in new employees and how they pick them, both Rob and Carol used basically the same words: they look for a good Attitude, Work Ethic, Talent, and as for picking the right person â€“ it's done by instinct.
By 1988 CEI had outgrown its original office space and decided to purchase a building of its own. Rob and Carol found an abandoned local watering hole that was once called The Firehouse Bar and Grill. Instead of serving up beer and burgers, Caron Engineering made a commitment to sell world-class software and first-rate customer service.
By then TMS had evolved into TMAC (Tool Monitoring Adaptive Control), and Caron Engineering began to evolve as well. CEI's second successful product, AutoComp, was launched, partnerships were forged with Blum and Renishaw in the probing industry, and more custom software was developed. Through the 1990's, and right up to the events of September 11, 2001, Caron Engineering had some very successful periods and some difficult downturns. But CEI managed to stay somewhat stable even in the toughest of circumstances that followed that fateful day. The world economy was affected in ways that were unforeseeable. To the credit of Rob and Carol, since the inception of Caron Engineering, no CEI employee has ever been laid off. At times, both Rob and Carol denied themselves a salary to make certain that the employees were taken care of.
Even now in this difficult global economy Caron Engineering is lucky to be very busy. This speaks to CEI's reputation, not just in the United States but around the world in the machine tooling industry. Rob likes to tell the story about how proud he was of his employees during a Chicago trade show. So many people came to the Caron Engineering booth to seek out Rob and his crew. His sense of pride stemmed from all of wonderful things that the visitors had to say about Caron Engineering and the dedicated, professional, and friendly staff. Some already knew Rob, and some had just heard about him and the staff at Caron Engineering, through word of mouth. But, one thing was certain; Caron Engineering's dedication to its customers and the quality of its products has paid off.
One of Rob's only regrets is that he didn't spend enough time and energy on marketing his company. But he feels that the reputation of Caron Engineering as a global world-class provider of software and service outweighs any flaws in marketing. Rob's passion for his work comes through at every turn and his focus is always first and foremost on the customer.
The heart and soul of Caron Engineering is the business partnership and friendship of Rob and Carol. Each has family members that are part of the Caron Engineering staff but in reality, every employee is considered family and every employee is dedicated to the company, to the customers, and especially to Rob and Carol. They are very generous, hard-working, and inclusive business owners, eager to give credit to anyone but themselves.
Carol Caron-Stratos recently said. "I am very proud of Rob's accomplishments. He has incredible instincts and I know I can trust his decisions. I am very proud to be a part of Caron Engineering from the very first day."
Caron Engineering is now celebrating its Silver Anniversary. More global expansion and customer service offerings are part of CEI's future, as they have been part of its past.
As of this writing Caron Engineering has completed more than 4,000 installations and developed hundreds of specialty software solutions. The company has grown in both the number of employees and in the products and services it offers. And speaking of employees, Rob and Carol have assembled a top notch team, well-respected in the industry for customer service excellence.
The Caron Engineering Family
But, CEI's story is not just about the employees, but the families of its employees. The Service Department is on the Road about 90% of the time, leaving significant others and children behind at home. CEI has been lucky enough to garner the support of this extended family, and they are all considered part of the company's success story.
At a recent company gathering Rob proposed a toast to the employees and their families. "Carol and I are very proud of each and every one of our employees; we wouldn't be where we are today without you. And we thank the families for being so supportive."
Caron Engineering would like to extend its gratitude to all of its customers for putting their trust in the many hard-working people at the company. CEI looks forward to working with its customers as it perfects its current product line and develops innovative, new products.
For Rob and Carol, sometimes it's hard to believe that 25 years have passed since Caron Engineering began its operation from the humble beginnings in the basement of a small, typical New England home. Like any company, the owners and employees have personally experienced incredible highs, and devastating lows. It couldn't be any other way in a small business with a family atmosphere. But with Rob and Carol at the helm, it's no surprise that Caron Engineering has grown, struggled, persevered, and flourished into the respected company it is today. Here's to the next 25 years.