Bill Seyferth and Eagle CNC: A Career of Innovation in Michigan’s Manufacturing Industry

Bill Seyferth and Eagle CNC: A Career of Innovation in Michigan’s Manufacturing Industry

Posted by Dave Fazakerley on 2024 May 15

westech to eagle cnc- featured 16x9

Bill Seyferth is the founder of Westech Corp., which now operates as Eagle CNC. In recent years, this state of the art machine shop has worked alongside Eagle Alloy and Eagle Precision as part of Muskegon’s Eagle Group, a manufacturing team providing casting-to-completion services for a variety of customers. As Bill retires from the company he founded, it is one of West Michigan’s largest machining facilities and carries out precision manufacturing work for Fortune 500 companies like John Deere and Caterpillar, along with a host of influential customers across a range of industries.

But that wasn’t always the case. Under Bill’s leadership, Westech (and Eagle CNC) grew year after year, essentially from the ground up. According to a 40-year colleague and friend, Bob Severance, “Bill grew the business. He took it over in ’84 when it had about 5 employees. Now he has upwards of 45.” In the beginning, the company operated from a modern facility located in the Norton Industrial Center. After restructuring, they relocated to within the West Michigan Steel Foundry, formerly Westran Corp., in downtown Muskegon. Westran itself was one of several Muskegon-area manufacturing companies started by the Seyferth family over generations. In recognition of their contributions, Bill’s great uncle Otto and uncle Don were inducted into the Muskegon County Business Hall of Fame in 2011.

Bill may have had manufacturing in his blood, but he still needed to put in the elbow grease to get his own business up and running. After several years of growth through the mid-1990s, Bill again purchased a new facility north of Muskegon, where the company is still located today. Their slogan, “we split hairs for a living,” reflected the team’s dedication to precision. “He always stayed ahead of the game, technology-wise,” Bob Severance recalls, “especially with the machine tools he would purchase.” While other machine shops—both in the area and nationwide—made do with aging technology, Westech began employing more and more state of the art machinery. They also expanded their metrology capabilities with computerized CMMs as soon as they became available.

Technology was only part of Westech’s success. Bill also had a keen eye for industry trends. In the late 1990s, he noticed that many of his customers were machining parts made through metalcasting, as opposed to billet and bar stock. Advances in metalcasting processes increasingly made it possible to produce complex shapes without weldments. In those days, local competition for machine shops was stiff, but metalcasting foundries were far less common—and because of tooling costs, foundries often saw higher retention rates than machine shops. Seeing an opportunity, Bill proposed a partnership with one of his customers, a Muskegon foundry called Eagle Alloy.

Bill Seyferth speaking at an Eagle CNC sales rep conference Bill Seyferth speaks during a facility tour for Eagle Group sales reps, 2019

Eagle Alloy co-founder Mark Fazakerley remembers the time Bill suggested joining forces: “He recognized, through the same conversations that I was having with customers, that he would be better off having the foundry be the purchasing point. That’s when he came to John [Workman] and me and suggested that we merge.” Eagle Alloy already had a small machine shop, but Westech was about four times the size of their existing facility. The partnership moved quickly, as it was mutually beneficial both from a business perspective and a personal perspective. According to Fazakerley, “having known Bill way back and knowing his character and the way he does business, we had no problem merging that ownership.”

Eagle Alloy owners Mark Fazakerley and John Workman purchased shares in Westech, which operated from then on as Eagle CNC Technologies. Bill remained as a 1/3 owner of the business, and as the sole managing partner. From the very beginning, Eagle CNC took on high-profile machining jobs on Eagle Alloy castings, immediately tooling up for work on Harley Davidson parts. Over the next 15 years, Eagle CNC continued to grow rapidly alongside Eagle Alloy and sister company Eagle Precision, an investment casting foundry started in 1991, together comprising the Eagle Group.

Soon after the merger, Eagle Alloy was negotiating a large contract with John Deere, who stipulated that they needed Eagle Alloy to provide the castings fully machined. In order to accommodate the work, Bill took a calculated risk and made a major investment in his facility. He expanded the manufacturing space to 60,000 square feet, invested over $2 million in new machines, and built a modern office that finally befitted its position as the face of a state of the art machine shop. “It was a game-changer,” Mark recalls, “as far as the capability of the facility, as well as the impression that it made on very large customers.” The Eagle Group won that John Deere contract, and today Deere is still one of their largest customers.

After a further 15 years of growth that outpaced many local peers, Bill made the decision to retire and turn his share of the company over to Eagle Alloy in 2023. Since the full merger, Jason Clark has taken over as company president. Jason is a recent addition to Eagle CNC but a long-time fixture in the Muskegon manufacturing industry, having previously worked as Plant Manager at Port City Group and Vice President of Operations at Michigan Wheel. “I know I have big shoes to fill,” Jason says of taking over for Bill. “He’s built this company into what it is today, and I want to make sure that where we take the company from here, lives up to that legacy.”

Bill Seyferth led Eagle CNC in its growth from a small shop with a handful of employees into a premier manufacturing facility, but he’s the first one to say that he didn’t do it alone. “My management style was pretty laid back,” he recalls. “I gave people a lot of latitude to come up with ideas to do things better, and I had a great team of people.”

As the company moves ahead into a new chapter, its growth and ethos reflects its solid foundation, which will be a part of West Michigan’s manufacturing landscape for years to come.

Tags: Eagle CNC

Dave Fazakerley

Written by Dave Fazakerley

Dave is Vice President of Manufacturing at Eagle Alloy in Muskegon, MI. He has been with Eagle since its inception in 1979.

Subscribe to Email Updates

Eagle Group Blog

Get to know our companies, and learn about the metalcasting/machining industry, by reading the Eagle Group Blog.

What you'll find on the Eagle Group Blog:

  • Useful resources
  • Interesting updates
  • Industry News
  • Upcoming Events

    Follow The Eagle Group