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  • ArtCAM Pro is a Hole in One for Great Lakes Golf Course Products

ArtCAM Pro is a Hole in One for Great Lakes Golf Course Products

Strawbeey Creek Marker Post
Concession Tee Marker Post

Great Lakes Golf Course Products started out just over a decade ago, manufacturing recycled plastic rope stakes, hazard markers and fairway signs for local courses. Since then, it has grown into a multi-million dollar enterprise providing the most prestigious golf courses around the world with highly stylized, custom-tailored furnishings and amenities.

For the first 6 years of its existence, Great Lakes outsourced much of its custom sign work to a local sign maker and other manufacturing companies. This was both costly and did not allow them to control quality, design or scheduling. The management realised that they could buy a CNC router and software, thus saving a great deal of money and gaining more control over their process. As they had the space and the manpower in house, this was a simple decision.

After investigating a number of CNC routers and software solutions, Great Lakes decided to buy an Anderson router, one copy of ArtCAM Pro and one copy of ArtCAM Insignia. Although initial needs were met by the 2D and 2½D capabilities of Insignia, anticipated expansion into 3D combined with a forecast for high production capacity lead Great Lakes to conclude that investment in both versions was warranted. In the first year, the company saved US$250K on work previously outsourced, and have since bought a second router.

Kevin Keepers started with Great Lakes 6 years ago as a part time employee while finishing college. Subsequently, he worked in their shipping department, eventually becoming the shipping manager. When Great Lakes bought the software and CNC machine, Kevin had the opportunity to start working in manufacturing and today is
the CNC manager for the company. We talked to him about his use of ArtCAM and how it has helped the company.

Kevin described some of the changes that have happened since he started at Great Lakes, "When I started here we had around 10 employees and were billing around $750K per year. Now we have 50 and bill that almost every month. About 80% of our products are made using ArtCAM and the router.  Without them, the company would never have been able to grow at the pace it has.  Since most of our business is custom designed, the ease of use of ArtCAM and its ability to go from customer logos and artwork is a real help.”

Kevin went onto describe the type of work they do with ArtCAM and the Router, "Mostly we do 2D signs and products such as tee markers and informational signs for each hole; all of these are customized for each course. We also offer about 45 standard sign products which are already set up to run in ArtCAM.” He added, "Recently, we have been exploring the 3D side of the software more, and looking at offering more sculpted products.  We are just beginning to scratch the surface of what we can offer our customers and I am excited about this end of the business.”

"I really like the tracing ability, plus the ability to load the customer’s artwork and fit clean vectors around it so that we can create toolpaths. This saves a lot of time. I also like the drawing tools in ArtCAM and find I am able to do my entire design layout in the software for the parts we make,” he explained. "By doing the layout and design in-house, we can get instant feedback from the customer, then make any changes needed and move onto the next version. All this prevents having to worry about sub-contractors”. Kevin concluded his ArtCAM likes by saying, "As we have gone into more 3D recently I am really starting to like the sculpting tools and the power they give me to clean up areas and to blend shapes to create the part I need.”

Having started at Great Lakes without a manufacturing or software background, Kevin is always keen to improve his knowledge of the product, "I like the fact that I can continue to learn more about the program, especially through opportunities like the annual User Group” Kevin went onto add, "This year, after one session on sculpting I was able to achieve in less than 1 hour something I previously had spent nearly 10 hours trying to do.
I always learn more technical things from the meeting, and it’s great to meet other users and see what they do with the software.”

The job mentioned (above) which Kevin was able to improve upon was a tee marker for a new golf course developed by Tony Jacklin and Jack Nicklaus. The part was based on a photo of the two men.  Using the relief from the image and sculpting, Kevin was able to create a motif which worked perfectly for the cold cast metal process Great Lakes used to produce the parts. "When Tony Jacklin was shown the part , I understand he was very happy with the detail and likeness. This makes me feel particularly proud of that part,” Kevin said.

"I have also used ArtCAM’s 3D capabilities to create other logos in relief, such as the one I created for a local course called Strawberry Creek.  I look forward to our salesmen selling more of these personalised 3D products so that I can really develop my skills,” Kevin added.

Kevin concluded by saying, "Great Lakes Golf Course Products is a very successful company.  We retain 100% control over all our design and manufacturing.  Therefore the use of ArtCAM and our routers have been instrumental in allowing us to provide a great, high quality product at a great value. We fully anticipate the company’s continued growth, and the software remains a key contributing factor toward that growth.”

Thanks to Kevin Keepers of Great Lakes Golf Course Products for his help with this article. For examples of their work and further information please visit http://www.glgcp.com

For more information on ArtCAM Pro please visit http://www.artcam.com