Ever Have a Filling? A Local Manufacturing Company Shapes the Drills' Cutting Edges
William Sopko and Sons Co., located at 26500 Lakeland Blvd., Euclid, Ohio, was started in 1952 in the basement of current owner Bill Sopko Sr.’s parents’ home on East 267th Street. His dad, also Bill, worked in the Maintenance Department at Tapco (now TRW) after returning home from serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Prior to the war, he worked at Ohio Ball Bearing Company (now Applied Technologies) in the Spindle Repair Department.
Bill Sr., says, “Many people do not know what a spindle is. It is NOT the wood spindle on a staircase. In industry, the spindle assembly has a shaft that is mounted on bearings and turns at high speeds. The special bearings must support both radial and axial pressures. On the end of the shaft an adaptor holds either a grinding wheel or a cutting tool. The higher the speed, the more precise the spindle must be.”
Since his father had two young children at the time, one of them being Bill, Sr., Bill Sopko decided to go out on his own and start a business, William Sopko and Sons Co. His wife, Mary, did the paperwork. They picked Euclid as home because it was the perfect place to have a family and establish a business. In the early 1950s, Euclid was booming with industry. Then they had two more kids to make a family of six.
Mary died in 1967 and Bill in 1974. The business still was located in the basement on East 267th Street. In 1971, Bill Sr. graduated from college, got married and rented a small block building on St. Clair Avenue. He purchased a milling machine, saw and surface grinder. Prior to this he had outsourced all of his manufacturing to local shops, many still in business today. In 1976, the company moved out of the basement into a building on Lakeland Boulevard in Wickliffe. In the early 1990s it needed more space and moved back to Euclid into the company’s current location on Lakeland Boulevard.
The current business has three segments, all related to precision grinding and machining. First, it is a precision spindle repair service company that rebuilds all types of ball and roller-bearing spindles. Most popular are surface grinders, cutter grinders, internal grinders, Moore jig grinders, both foreign and domestic. The company has rebuilt more than 10,000 precision spindles during the past 64 years. Second, it manufactures grinding accessories that include wheel adapters, internal grinding quills, collet chuck quills, extensions, flanges, spacers and precision wheel screws. Finally, the company is a stocking distributor for spindle-related products. Its major lines include Dumore hand grinders, tool post grinders, parts, spindles and drill units, and Gates power transmission products including flat spindle belts, poly vee, variable speed and vee belts.
Sopko and Sons employs experienced machine technicians who can run manual lathes, CNC turning and milling machines and a complete precision grinding department to grind its products and spindle repair components, as required. Sopko does not do contact grinding for other companies. Grinding shops are its customers, and it does not compete against them. According to Bill Sr., “Some common applications of our precision spindles include forming and sharpening the cutting edges on the tiny drills the dentist uses to drill your teeth for a filling. Some spindles are used to grind hardened ball bearings, automotive engine blocks and jet aircraft components.”
Currently, the third generation is involved with the company. Bill Jr., Brian and Jillian Sopko all are on board to continue to serve valued customers all over the country. With regard to the future, Bill Sr. says, “The future will have many technical advancements affecting the whole world. People in manufacturing will make products of tomorrow using precision machine tools. Our business will adjust to this new technology as it is discovered, and we will continue to service and supply the needs of the new century.”
Gina M. Tabasso, marketing communications specialist, HGR Industrial Surplus, www.hgrinc.com