Manufacturing in America is not dead.
It’s just evolving, and no one is doing more to bring about the future of the industry than Markforged. They use the world’s most advanced 3D printing technology in order to quickly create strong, durable, functional products of all kinds ― think everything from tools to heavy-duty machines to crash test dummies.
But that success didn’t happen overnight. It took dedicated effort, focused leadership, and a commitment to building a sustainable (and fun) culture. We talked to team members at Markforged to learn about where they’ve been and where they’re going.
EMPLOYEES: 261; 221 locally
WHAT THEY DO: The Markforged platform includes a full ecosystem of 3D printers for metal, composite and plastic parts.
WHERE THEY DO IT: Boston
A-LIST CLIENTELE: Markforged works with some of the biggest companies in the world, including John Deere, Stanley Black & Decker and Siemens.
Matt Gannon, VP of Operations
Matt leads the operations team at Markforged, which encompasses manufacturing, supply chain, strategic sourcing and customer solutions teams.
LACE ‘EM UP: As a founding member of Markforged’s #bball Slack channel, it goes without saying that Matt is always ready for some pickup basketball.
Tell us about the moment you realized that Markforged had a strong product-market fit.
I started back in 2014 when we had just started shipping the Mark One. I could see the value in the technology and feel how strong the parts were but hadn’t yet seen all the places the technology could add value. I realized we had a strong product-market fit when I saw our own teams get over the adoption curve and start to use our printers for everything.
From production parts on our printers to tooling and fixtures on the assembly line to critical components on our material production equipment, we use printed parts everywhere. Our own mastery of technology enables us to get our products to market faster with higher quality and more efficiency. I’ve seen it work, and every time I visit a factory or supplier, I’m always pointing out all the places they should be using printers to improve their operations.
To support all of this in our hyper-growth environment, we need to be forward-thinking with our goals.”
What has been the biggest change you’ve noticed at the company as you’ve grown?
The voice of the customer and their impact on our business and strategy is something that sticks out to me. We’re not just building on an idea anymore.
To support all of this in our hyper-growth environment, we need to be forward-thinking with our goals. A great example of this mindset is seen in the way we increased our production capacity to meet our sales growth. In 2019, that has already meant adding a third shift to enable more production. Improving, expanding and connecting our critical systems and processes are going to enable us to scale.
What do you see that scale looking like? Where is 3D printing headed?
The impact and adoption of additive manufacturing is only going to increase. While our focus is on the industrial market with functional parts, there are many other industries that are poised to adopt 3D printing or have already started to do so.
Markforged is accelerating that adoption by developing the full ecosystem of software, hardware and materials that ensure our customers get their part to spec every print. With our Metal X system, we are significantly reducing the cost to make 3D printed metal parts, making 3D printed metal technology accessible to a much wider audience.
Lindsey Andrade, Print Systems Engineer
As a print system engineer, Lindsey is responsible for a lot of projects that fall between the engineering, operations, and product departments. She works on hardware and software development as well as testing and validation of their print systems.
SETTING SAIL: Lindsey used to teach sailing to kids and had the opportunity to sail a range of boats in regattas, including some in national competitions. She’s stepped back from competitive sailing since moving to Boston, but sailing will always be her passion.
Not only have you been at Markforged for quite a while but you started as an intern. What was that like?
The projects I did as an intern were impactful to our product line and never felt like busy work. I was given the task of creating a print to help level the fiber nozzles on our desktop series and was given all the resources I needed to create a customer-facing utility by the end of the summer. Creating a new tool for customers to use from start to finish taught me so much about how customers interact with our products, and I realized that the work we did couldn’t stop after the engineering work finished.
How has your product evolved from where you started out?
Our product line has evolved in ways that allow us to build on what we learned from previous products. The jumps in technology from the Mark One to the Mark Two to the X7 seem large in terms of features and ability, but the development always built off of the previous iteration to give us a point of reference of something that we knew worked well. We know 3D printing and we use everything we’ve learned in 3D printing and apply it to new printers and materials, allowing us to move through the composite printers into the metal printing space.
Creating a new tool ... taught me so much about how customers interact with our products, and I realized that the work we did couldn’t stop after the engineering work finished.”
What has been the biggest change you’ve noticed at the company as you’ve grown?
When I started as an intern we had maybe 50 or 60 employees, and this hyper-growth that we’ve had has definitely changed how we function as a company. When we were small, everyone had to know everything that was going on. People had to help where they could because we just needed the people-power to get stuff done.
Now that we have larger, dedicated teams, it felt weird not knowing everything happening in every department but, after a little adjusting, that weirdness turned into a liberating feeling knowing that we could trust the people that are completely focused on all the problems we used to have to worry about.
Matt Balaschi, Director, Commercial Sales — North America
Matt is responsible for managing the commercial sales teams that sell into North America.
CELTIC PRIDE: Matt is a die-hard Boston sports fan and has Celtics season tickets with a friend and colleague from Markforged.
As your team continues to grow, what characteristics are you looking for in candidates and how do you ensure they’re a great culture fit?
I think a very important characteristic that a company in hyper-growth mode should look for in the hiring process is a positive attitude — each new hire is crucial, and you must make sure they are excited to come to work each and every day to drive the best customer experience possible.
From a sales perspective, what has all that growth been like?
It has been incredible to have such happy customers. My team loves to reach out and check in with our current customers to see how the printers are being utilized and see if there is anything we can help with. Hearing the stories about how much of a positive impact our 3D printers have had on their business makes me so proud and thankful to be a Markforged employee.
... each new hire is crucial, and you must make sure they are excited to come to work each and every day to drive the best customer experience possible.”
What kind of room is there for career growth as the company expands?
With hyper-growth comes career growth, and seeing that firsthand has been amazing. As we scale up our team, we have had several internal promotions — I started my Markforged career as a sales representative, was a sales manager for a year, and recently I was promoted to the director of commercial sales North America. It is really cool to see my friends and colleagues take the next step in their careers and grow as employees and individuals.