Farmington Engraving Business Grows

Bonnie Cummings sees similarities in the health care she provides as a registered nurse and the customer care she offers as the owner of Third Axis Custom Engraving. The Farmington business owner shares knowledge and creativity to help customers — and patients — achieve their goals.

Cummings spent 13 years working full time at a local hospital before transitioning to part-time and starting the engraving business in late 2011 from a kiosk at the Animas Valley Mall. Four months later she rented a building nearby and added a second laser engraving machine, expanding her engraving and cutting capabilities to wood, aluminum, leather, cork, and granite. Another move took the business downtown, where Cummings had space for additional machines and three employees to help operate them.

With expansion, Cummings was able to do what she likes most:  provide creative ideas for awards and recognition for schools, businesses, events, memorials, and special occasions.

Cummings sought help navigating the rapid growth of her business from the Business Enterprise Center at San Juan College. An advisor there introduced her to New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

Under the guidance of New Mexico MEP innovation director Denise Williams, production activities were mapped and translated into processes that provided clarity for employees.

Cummings said Williams brought things up in a different light. “I had it all up here,” Cummings said pointing to her head. “But what Denise did was put it down on paper so it made sense to the employees.”

Williams also consulted on other issues as they arose. For example, a shy employee steeped in information technology and machine programming was required to respond to customers when everyone else was occupied. Williams led staff through role-playing exercises. “We talked about different scenarios so that he could see how to respond to people,” said Cummings.

When major road construction disrupted Main Street traffic in early 2020, Cummings moved the business to her home, where it has remained through the COVID-19 pandemic. The move has not hindered growth, thanks to repeat clients and new customers who find the business on search engines, Google Pages, and the company website. Cummings also attributes continued growth to word-of-mouth referrals from longtime customers such as Four Corners Extreme Adventure, Special Olympics, San Juan College and other schools, and many local churches.

Cummings continues to add new capabilities. Last year she purchased a specialized printer that imprints color images using a process called sublimation.

Recently, a customer brought an Italian rifle to be engraved, making the trip from Tijeras because of Cummings’ reputation for quality work. Customers regularly travel from Durango, Cortez, Bayfield, and Pagosa Springs for corporate, academic, and personal engraved awards and gifts.

Cummings’ relationship with New Mexico MEP has continued beyond the formalized work performed in 2018, and Cummings appreciates the ongoing support and advice that Williams provides, which she said was a big help through the pandemic.

“She provided feedback and insight,” Cummings said.