By Steve Barrett,
Creative Content Writer for Hilltop Packs LLC
Jake and Ashley Yates of Waynesburg are living proof that big goals, and even big dreams, can be accomplished in small towns.
The husband-and-wife team and lifelong Greene County residents have been operating a successful – and unique – business, Yates Precision Manufacturing LLC, for nearly five years. So successful, in fact, that their company continues to steadily grow with each passing month.
And their success can be attributed to a series of quality products, a great deal of smarts and unmatched commitment and drive.
YPM, which began in June of 2017 as a contract manufacturing shop, is officially home of their very popular safety razor. And according to Jake, the business started by “accident.”
His father, John Yates, brought him a safety razor in 2018 and asked Jake if he thought he could possibly make one. Knowing admittedly very little about safety razors at the time, Jake began to research information about the product and began designing a prototype.
“I decided to get to work designing one, with the intent of making a few for friends and family,” he said. “As I started posting about it on social media, it began to gain interest, so I opened up a pre-order for our Model 921-M razor, and never really looked back.”
And with that auspicious beginning, the Yates’ safety razor business was born. As for the 921 number that is found on each razor, Ashley said it has a very special meaning.
“We get a lot of questions about where the 921 comes from, and I love to tell people that both of our sons, Landon and Lincoln, were born on September 21, two years apart," she said with a beaming smile.
YPM currently offers an array of safety razor models and baseplates to accommodate a wide variety of shavers’ needs, as well as options for finishes of the razor. When a razor is ordered, it is delivered in an impressive package that also includes a baseplate and five blades.
Through the company’s website, www.yatesprecision.com, customers are also able to purchase a wide array of shaving products, including bundles and limited-edition razors, individual components, razor stands, shaving soap and brushes and more. Each individual razor has its own mechanically engraved serial number, making them unique.
The double-edged safety razor, which Jake said has evolved from the origins of the straight razor, is eco-friendly and guaranteed to last a lifetime, with blades costing just pennies.
A big reason for the high quality of YPM’s products is the fact that the couple know their stuff. Jake is a mechanical engineer who has worked both in the aerospace and medical industries, gaining valuable manufacturing experience.
Because of this background, the couple is very familiar with material selection, fixture design, holding tight tolerance and lean manufacturing.
“We have worked with the full spectrum of materials, from standard metals like aluminum and mild-carbon steel, to aerospace and medical grade metals like Inconel and Titanium,” he said.
Meanwhile, in addition to being a full-time Mom, Ashley – who has a degree in business administration and previously worked at Cornell University prior to becoming a mother, is responsible for handling a great deal of the business as well as the marketing aspects of the company.
“She’s amazing,” Jake said. “In addition to enjoying the most challenging and rewarding job on the planet – taking care of two young boys – she also keeps our machines running and handles all of our product photography. Our company would not be possible without her.”
Speaking of the machines, Jake said when YPM started they had one machine. Now, their shop hosts five machines, each one designed to a specific aspect of their products' creations.
Although razors were available for sale and the YPM website was up and running by June of 2019, the duo said the ball really started rolling when they reached out to the West Coast Shaving company in 2019, and West Coast Shaving ordered 100 safety razors. One catch: They ordered them in October and wanted them in time for Black Friday, at the time when the Yates only had one machine to make them.
“It was a lot of sleepless nights, but we pulled it off,” Ashley said. “They got them in time and sold them all by Christmas, and they then ordered more. We are very grateful for West Coast Shaving, they helped get us on the map.”
Currently, YPM has distribution sites on the west coast and in Slovenia and China, and Jake said he hopes to have one in South America in the near future. YPM partners with six other shaving companies and is currently making about 240 razors each month.
“Our company is growing to the point that we will probably need to hire more people to help us, which is a good thing,” he said. “Our numbers are definitely increasing, and we are excited to see what the future has in store for YPM.”
Information about Yates Precision Manufacturing LLC can be found on the company’s website, www.yatesprecision.com, and the business also has a strong presence on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/yatesprecision and instagram https://www.instagram.com/yatesprecision