Meet Doosan's Machine Man West of the Rockies

Steve Allnutt is the Applications Supervisor for the West Coast at Doosan Machine Tools America. He’s held that position since 2008, educating new owners on the capabilities of their machines and working with them until they are happy with the process and the parts being made.

Steve got his first job in machining in 1969. He started on manual machines and then found he had a knack for fixing CNCs. After 8 years of running his own company, we convinced him to join us. It was a natural fit since he has a 24-year history with Daewoo and Doosan. Today, our customers recognize him as the Doosan “go-to” guy West of the Rockies.

We sat down with Steve to learn a little bit more about him and his career.

How did you learn the trade?

My first machining job was in an R&D shop called MaPo. Believe it or not, MaPo was short for “Mary Poppins.” It was owned by the Disney Corporation. Then I got a job with a company that specialized in high volume machining for brass castings. My boss there was Chuck Waas, who really taught me a lot about the business. He recognized that I was a guy who wanted to learn and excel, so he walked me through everything: machining, troubleshooting electrical system, hydraulics, pneumatics, etc. There was so much to learn, but Chuck was very patient. He had the ability to look at me and see whether I was getting it or not. If I wasn’t, he’d take a different approach until things clicked.

What’s your favorite part of this job?

I think it’s following Chuck’s example when working with customers and distributors. I’m a good trainer in the field and in our facility because I remember how hard it is to learn if you have no one to ask. You struggle, make mistakes, but then you gain wisdom. Like Chuck, I’ve developed different ways to get complex concepts across to different people. If we’re doing a certain type of machining, we’ll program it, I’ll explain it to them, maybe I’ll run through it once, but then they’re on the machine and doing hands-on learning.

What’s a typical work week look like?

If I’m not traveling, I’m taking calls or emails from customers or distributors. I’m presented a part and they want me to tell them what Doosan machine would be best for making it. Typically, I’m solving these problems right at the machine. That’s why I spend probably 50% or more of my time on the road, training people who bought new machines and finding ways to increase their production and accuracy.

What Doosan machines are you really excited about?

When I started out, I did more turning/lathe work than milling, so I’ve always leaned that way. But since we’ve come out with our mill turn equipment, that’s been the apple of my eye. We have the PUMA TT model that’s built for mass production of high precision parts and the PUMA MX model with a 7-axis upper articulating spindle. It doesn’t get much more “multi” than that. I just love them both, especially when I’m training operators and their eyes light up when they realize what they can accomplish with them.

What’s great about the Doosan line?

We go the extra mile to provide our customers with good features. That’s why I’m proud of the product. For example, we’re not satisfied with putting stock controls and systems into our machines, no matter how good they are. We get a control that’s equipped with amazing options and then we make them standard. Doosan also continually researches and adds new technology, like our torque sensing feature that allows us to do finishing much easier.

What would you tell your college-age self?

Maybe go back to school and get a degree in engineering. That being said, a lack of formal education hasn’t held me back all that much. In my opinion, we’re not doing young people a service by convincing them they need a degree or two to be worth anything. I think that a certificate in manufacturing from a 2-year college is a good road to a real, consistent, satisfying income.

You can get all the knowledge you need if you pay attention and listen to all the people around you. There are guys who have been doing this for decades who are still like kids. They’re so enthusiastic about it. Working with them is like attending an advanced seminar.

Memorable customer experiences

There have been quite a few. I remember one particular precision machining company in Oakdale, California. I’ve dealt with the owner for over 20 years He knows what he wants, specifies it and accepts no substitutes. We installed a PUMA TT1800SY and had to overcome some preconceived ideas he had. But when we did the training and showed him the new features on the machine and how to use them, he was very pleased with how fast and easy it was to use.

Another company, also in Northern California, was hoping to use its Lynx 220LSY to completely finish a difficult part. That wasn’t possible, but I worked with them, traveled up there a few times and kept working the problem. Together, we got it to a place where they were elated with the machine.

What do you do for grins?

I love fixing and riding old, vintage motorcycles. I’ve probably owned close to 30 motorcycles from 8 different countries in my life. I dive in deep and actually spend a little more time fixing than riding. I have three complete bikes, none of them very new: a ‘66 BSA Spitfire Mark 2, a pretty rare ‘67 Matchless G15 CSR 750, and a ‘75 BMW R90S 900CC sport bike. The ‘75 is very dependable. I’d still feel comfortable taking it cross-country today. I also have a 2003 Harley, my modern bike. My favorite of all time was a ‘69 Norton Commando. I bought that used around 1970-71. Quickest bike made at that time and not everyone knew it. I won a lot of races with that bike and it wasn’t even close.

Any last stories?

In the early 90s, when I was working for a major CNC company, they came out with one of the first linear way lathes that had an electronic gearbox. I knew this was going to be quite the machine. We put one on the back of a truck and toured the country. We showed it to our dealers by doing demos right from the truck. We could get maybe 15 people up there. Or we’d get riggers and unload and do an open house. I spent 90 days touring the country, traveling with the machine. It was a very successful event. A real gas. My dog and I just got in that truck and hit the road.

The following IMTS, our marketing manager didn’t get a booth, but she got a parking space for us by the food court. We loaded an 18-wheeler with 3 machines. That was fairly successful for us, too. After the show, I wrapped the sold machines up and personally delivered them to Chicago, Kansas and Pennsylvania in that very same 18-wheeler.

That sums up how Steve became Doosan’s go-to applications guy out west. He does whatever it takes to keep his customers happy and productive, and that includes driving an 18-wheeler.