Family Matters

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Machining retailer passes down to the next generation

By James Feichtner 

When it comes to Jim Shelton’s business, Shelton Machinery, Jim deems family as one of its core values. After several decades of building his business out of Indiana, founder Jim Shelton is passing the reigns of SM off to his son, Nick, and past son-in-law Jeff Tucker.

Since 1988, Shelton Machinery has been a manufacturers’ representative from Indiana and Kentucky facilitating the sales of CNC machining mechanisms.

“We’re fortunate in Indiana there’s a wide range of industries,” Nick, now a co-owner, said. “We sell to medical, aerospace, automotive, heavy industry like Catterpillar of Cummins, job shops.”

Geist resident Jim began working in the manufacturing business in 1971.

“I came out of manufacturing and I got the opportunity to sell machine tools. And doing a job for a particular supplier, our major supplier wanted me to have my own distributorship,” he said.

With his father running the business, Nick naturally grew up around the company, but it wasn’t until 1998 that he decided to go all-in with the family business.

“After I graduated from Purdue, I went and got a job selling elevators in Boston just to do something different,” Nick said. “I only did that for two years then I came here. I knew eventually I always wanted to come back to the family business.”

Tucker had been with the business since the beginning. By 1989 he was working fulltime for the company.

Today, Jim couldn’t be happier having Nick and Tucker involved with the business, but is also fortunate to have maintained a consistent staff with the company.

“I feel very blessed for it and we’ve been very blessed over the years. Jeff’s been here since ‘89 and [Nick] has been here since ‘98, but we’ve got another salesman that’s been here since I started in ‘88 and so we’ve got through all the years and probably had three people leave,” Tucker said.

In 2002, Shelton Machinery was moved to a location in Fishers with the idea of perpetuating the brand in both a business aspect as well as a family aspect.

“It’s all about growing a business, but because it’s a family business we are worried about our employees,” Jim said. “With the new building, by doing that, we were able to pass it on, and my wife and I talked about that a long time and it’s what we wanted. Jeff had been here long enough; he’s a core value. Nick had been here long enough that he was a core value.”

Jim started transitioning into new ownership in 2006.

“They became owners; I sold them part interest in the company, feeling we had to go forward. I would say in the last two years there has been a lot of transition that turning over individual responsibilities to them,” he said.

Jim had been thinking about retirement for some time, but never had a set date to do it. He felt that with technology changing as fast as it is today, it was time to let the younger generation take control.

“It was just a point in time that it was time to have a new entity because technology is moving so fast today that I really saw myself getting passed by by the technology,” he said. “So why keep stumbling over old rocks? Let the young blood take over and take their ideas and let them run with it.”

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