Two Co-owners with a Dream and Determination to Succeed
Mike Noelting, co-owner of SNX Technologies, Sauk Rapids, Minnesota, spent most of his early years at his parents’ lakeside resort in central Minnesota. It was helping with the family business where he developed many mechanical and electrical skills needed to maintain the resort’s various machinery and recreational vehicles. It was work he greatly enjoyed. Mike attended college in 1986 at nearby St. Cloud State University, one of Minnesota’s largest public universities that serves more than 15,000 students today. Noelting graduated with twin degrees, one in Finance and the other in Economics.
Upon graduation, he joined Piper Jaffray, a prestigious leading financial investment bank and asset management firm headquartered in Minneapolis. Noelting spent six years at the firm. He was successful in his position, but felt the pull of his youthful interest in machinery too strong to ignore. Mike left Piper Jaffray and landed a sales position with Yamazen, a highly respected CNC capital equipment dealer who served the metalworking market. He was responsible for the firm’s upper-Midwest territory. He married in 2004 and the couple settled down in a home on the banks of the Mississippi river near the Minnesota town of Rice.
Noelting was introduced to the woodworking machine tool industry by his new brother-in-law, Craig Sexton. Sexton at the time was vice president of sales and marketing for a major European machinery builder’s North American CNC equipment unit. He was looking to onboard two sales staff professionals, and noticed how Noelting was a perfect choice for the regional manager position in the firm’ upper-Midwest territory.
After devoting several years with their employer, the two men became eager for an opportunity to start their own business. In 2008, the pair left their high-level positions and opened the doors on their current business, SNX Technologies, in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota.
Now let’s go back a few years and catch up on Craig Sexton’s beginnings. He grew up in St. Cloud, Minnesota. His education was deeply seated in his father’s and uncle’s business when they purchased a custom engineered machinery manufacturer, Komo Machine, back in 1981. These new owners placed an emphasis on growth and diversification and began building metalworking CNC machining centers, first for their own production use and then introducing a line of large bed and large travel CNC machining centers for metalworkers, ultimately becoming their popular Vertical Machining Center (VMC) product line.
Komo further expanded its CNC customer base and product line to include customers in the woodworking and plastic industries. Craig Sexton started the CNC router division in 1988 and headed that division for the next ten years.
When Komo was sold in 1999 to an outside firm, Sexton went to work for a major European machine builder as a product manager for CNC routers. Within three years he was promoted to vice president of sales and marketing and moved to Charlotte, North Carolina for the next four years. “Komo left at the peak of an awesome time when we were producing 200 CNC routers a year,” stated Sexton. “That’s when I introduced flat table routers to my new company and the nested base concept.” Sexton was at the forefront of this router introduction and he spent nine years with them until 2008 when he left and started SNX Technologies with Mike Noelting.
Sexton moved back to Minnesota, started SNX with Noelting in 2008, re-married in 2011 and blended a family with his children and those of his new wife.
The first four years in business at SNX selling used machinery during the Great Recession was not exactly what either of the two co-owners had expected, but they reinvented themselves as they went and made a prosperous business out of it. Today, their business is extremely busy selling new machinery and supplies to the markets they serve.
When asked about their future, both Noelting and Sexton feel they are in an excellent position working with customers interested in working in small cells where their U.S.-made nVision contour edge banding line fits perfectly. “We can offer the same quality as the larger machines for less money and a lot less floor space,” Sexton said. “We can produce more product than the large machines because of the process and the operation.” Sexton continued, “The sophistication level on our machines is much less in comparison to the big CNC machines with all of the extra stuff on them. And, we can install and train operators in less than two days.” New markets, new customers, new products are all in the works and are all happening right now.
SNX Technologies’ future is bright. The co-owners have a 10-year plan in place to grow the product lines further for the markets they serve. Not bad for a start-up company challenged to succeed during a downturn economy, to become a strong player in the woodworking machinery market. SNX is a company to watch.