Adaptation and Skills Sustain Farmington Business

Founded in 1980 by Ivan Clay and Ellis Groomer, Clay Groomer Machine Shop (CGMS) has fulfilled the San Juan Basin’s machining needs by producing quality work in a safe and timely manner. Their success has been a result of always going above and beyond customers’ expectations.

Clay Groomer historically provided on-site and mobile machining, mechanical and welding to oil, gas and industrial sites, including the Four Corners Generating Station and Navajo Mine.  CGMS has since expanded the company vision to include things such as, but not limited to, selling pumps manufactured by Weir Minerals and industrial mixers made by Ekato. In addition, CGMS takes great pride in being the only authorized New Mexico distributor of air starters made by TDI. CGMS has ensured employees have been trained and certified by each manufacturer – with some workers traveling as far as Germany for training. Clay Groomer Machine Shop is able to offer manufacturers’ warranties on service work, including complete product rebuilds.

How they got here

In 2012, Clay’s son, also named Ivan, and Groomer’s grandson, Joe Warren, took over the business. It was a time when industry and the economy in the Four Corners area were rapidly changing.

By the beginning of 2013, only two of seven refineries were operable in New Mexico, with another closing in 2021. Aging oil and natural gas wells, along with shuttered gas refineries, contributed to major changes. Businesses and workers were leaving the Four Corners area in staggering numbers as oil and gas jobs moved from the Four Corners to the Permian Basin. Making matters increasingly difficult, three of the five coal-powered generating units at the local Four Corners Generating Station were shut down in 2014.

Though these events were an enormous challenge, Clay Groomer Machine Shop did not abandon the industry it was built on, and it continues to hold an A+ Rating with the Better Business Bureau. “We still do a lot in the oil and gas business, either for drilling companies or transportation pipeline companies,” Clay said. “But now, we have a lot of customers all over in different industries. We’re going out 500 miles for customers.”

Adaptation reaps results

With such rapid and devastating changes in the local economy, Ivan and Joe knew if they wanted to stay in the Four Corners area, they needed to change their business model.  Ivan Clay reached out to Denise Williams, Innovation Director at New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership (New Mexico MEP), a nonprofit organization that helps businesses transform their operations to increase productivity and profit.

With Denise’s help, Ivan was able to send employees to New Mexico MEP workshops to learn about inventory control techniques known as Kanban, continuous improvement practices known as Kata, new automation breakthroughs, sustainable lean practices, and more.

In 2021, CGMS purchased a Computer Measurement Machine – used to certify sophisticated components – to expand its revenue stream into newer industries such as aerospace. “We located the machine, and MEP helped us with the purchase,” said Clay. With knowledge gleaned from New Mexico MEP, CGMS obtained a good price and a longer warranty.  The new CMM “allows us to bid and get jobs that with the old machine we would not be able to do,” said Clay.  “We’ve always been quality oriented and that makes us a natural fit for the aerospace world.”

The company’s vision continues to grow. ISO and AS 9100 certification is next in the partners’ company transformation plan. When speaking about the possibilities on the horizon, Clay stated, “[Once these certifications are obtained] we’ll be able to go directly to big aerospace companies like Raytheon and Honeywell”.

Ivan Clay appreciates the assistance his company continues to receive from New Mexico MEP. “They’re an excellent resource for us,” he said. “There is a lot more to MEP than you would think.”

Learn more about Clay-Groomer Machine Shop at