Brent Beistel says he loves machining and can make a living at it largely because of one person—his dad. A tattoo he just completed honors his father and the work that both men do.
Denny Beistel has worked as a machinist for more than four decades, always as an employee. He shared what knew with his son Brent as the boy was growing up. In 2007, he helped his then 18-year-old son to found an independent machining business, initially in the family garage. That business is now Beistel Machining of Donora, Pennsylvania.
Today, Brent has his own space for the business, with room to grow. He also has two employees, and business is good. But he is far from satisfied.
“I want the business to expand,” he says. “I want to go much further.”
He’s seen considerable progress already. The earliest jobs he won, back when the shop had only manual machines, were the result of his cold-calling and “a lot of knocking on doors,” he says. It was no fun, but necessary. All of the income from that work went back into the business, until the shop reached the point in 2010 when Brent was able to buy a CNC machining center from Doosan. A Doosan CNC lathe followed a year after that. Today, Brent’s shop has a much better story to tell when he pitches the shop’s capabilities to prospects.
Brent decided to get a tattoo soon after the two CNC machines were in place. He knew the tattoo’s design ought to show something he would never get tired of. To him, that meant machining. It meant the work his dad gave him.
Tattoo artist Adam Mitchell of Vegastar Tattoo studied photographs of Brent’s machines and gaging, and even the text of a G-code program, in order to create the design. Adam and Brent began the project about 18 months ago. The design advanced slowly, in 3-hour sessions, sometimes at the rate of one session every 3 weeks during periods when the shop’s workload was light enough to permit this commitment.
And “commitment” is indeed the right word. Receiving a tattoo is painful, Brent says. Thinking back across all of those 3-hour sessions, he laughs as he says, “It was abusive!”
The micrometer drawn on the inside of his arm is particularly symbolic. The first tools his dad ever gave him were a set of Starrett mikes, including this one. The part the mike is measuring is a workpiece in the shape of the word, “Dad.” The G code in the tattoo is part of a program which, if run in his machining center, would mill a part in the shape of this word.
Brent’s dad often visits Beistel Machining in the evening, after his own work day is finished. Brent says the man will gravitate toward work that needs to be done. He might pick up freshly machined parts, for example, and start to deburr them.
Brent says he wishes his dad wouldn’t do this, because he doesn’t have to. The son and his staff have the work under control, and his father has already done plenty for him.
“My dad has done enough,” he says.