KeyBar® is a manufacturing company based in Savannah, Georgia that prides itself on American-made products. Mike Taylor, the CEO, Owner, and Founder of KeyBar®, first got the idea for this company while working as the chief engineer at an upscale hotel in Savannah, Georgia. As a part of this position, he carried around countless keys attached to his belt. One day he realized that there must be an easier way to carry his keys, so that they made less noise and were easier to access. Mike used a multi-tool daily, and it occurred to him that he could apply the same concept to keys to create the KeyBar®, a patented key organizer that promises to “Stop the Noise”® of jangling keys, kill the clutter of a handful of keys, and make the key ring obsolete.
In 2014, Mike and his wife, Jessica, left their full-time jobs to take a chance on their new business, and it paid off. Mike, now 34, has built a thriving online store, retailers all over the country are carrying KeyBars, and they have an entire team of employees working at their Savannah, Georgia machine shop; quite the achievement for a young entrepreneur.
KeyBars are made of many different materials, ranging from aluminum and copper to brass, titanium, and carbon fiber, and end mills from Harvey Tool and Helical Solutions play a crucial part in the creation of each one.
We spoke with Mike for this Featured Customer profile, and talked about his experiences starting his own shop and the way Harvey Tool and Helical products have impacted his shop’s overall performance.
What made you get into machining?
We actually started manufacturing KeyBars by outsourcing our parts to some of my machinist friends. After watching several YouTube videos, I decided that machining our own parts in-house was something I wanted to achieve. I am new to machining, so every day is a challenge. I am truly learning as I go, but I learn more every single day in the shop and every day is a huge payoff.
Would you recommend a career as a machinist to young people trying to find a career path?
Absolutely! In this day and age of smart phones and computers, young people would be great in CNC machining and manufacturing.
How did you first hear about the Harvey Tool & Helical brands?
I first heard about both Harvey Tool and Helical from your Instagram pages. KeyBar® really took off when I started posting the finished product on Instagram, so I have always been an active user and firm believer in the power of social media.
What made you decide to go with these brands for your cutting tool needs?
I was told that Harvey made the best tool for cutting carbon fiber, which we do a lot of while manufacturing KeyBars, so it was a no-brainer.
How easy was the purchase process?
With only a quick email or phone call, I usually have my tools within 1-2 days, which is important for us to keep up our production and never lose a single second of time in the shop waiting for a tool.
Did you receive any help from our customer service teams? How was that experience?
It was great. I needed some initial speeds and feeds for all my composites, and in just a few minutes they had me all squared away. Time is money, and the customer service team saved me lots of time when we first started working with composite materials.
Tell us about your favorite product that Harvey Tool or Helical products helped to create.
We are currently producing a run of custom KeyBars with inlays. The Harvey end mills for composite materials allowed us to achieve a perfect fit and made the project a success.
What is your favorite operation to work on with Helical end mills?
I really like working on 1/4″ roughing passes with a Helical chipbreaker.
What was your first impression of these brands’ tools?
“Damn! That worked pretty good!”
You use a lot of Harvey Tool miniature drills in your work. Why is high quality drill performance important to you?
We drill a lot of holes, and every second counts in production. Most importantly, being able to depend on a tool and get consistent results is worth more than anything else.
How have the Harvey Tool and Helical products impacted your overall performance?
I never have to worry about getting a less than superior finish on our composite products. Harvey Tool products do an excellent job with composite materials– like I said, this is a huge part of our manufacturing process and so it is very important to our performance.
If you were stranded on a desert island with only one Harvey Performance tool, which would it be, and why?
I would choose the Harvey Tool 933316-C6 (1/4″ Corner Radius End Mill for Hardened Steels up to 55 Rc) because you never know what you are going to run in to, and there isn’t much that a 1/4″ end mill can’t do!
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Photos courtesy of KeyBar