Our Story - Manufacturing with Heart

Manufacturing with Heart®
was born at
Abrasive Technology

Manufacturing with Heart ® was born at Abrasive Technology


The dream of Loyal “Butch” Peterman and 3 other colleagues working for General Electric Superabrasives came to reality as Abrasive Technology, Inc. was born.

On our first selling day, we took our product line of 24 diamond abrasive tools for and hit the streets of Columbus, OH to cold call on dentists. At the end of the day, we came back with empty brief cases, money in our pockets, and excitement in our hearts.


We were passionate about succeeding as well as operating under a few basic principles:

  • Be a reputable company

  • Make high-quality products

  • Make decisions for the long-term

  • Keep things simple

  • Pay our bills on time, with cash


These principles coupled with a profit sharing plan for all associates and events & celebrations over the year served as the foundation for what our business culture is today.


The Early Years 1971 – 1973

One of the good things about starting our business in 1971 was that there was an economic recession. That meant that everything we needed in order to start this business was readily available and less expensive. We were very careful with our money, but we had cash to pay for everything, making it possible to get what we needed quickly.


We sold our products to dentists in Columbus, OH by going door-to-door, then expanding across the state.

We developed our first line of electroplated and brazed industrial grinding products and signed our first dental distributor.


The Two Striper® dental bur was born and we pursued patents for our new bonding technology and process.

Our philosophy to be a “good corporate citizen” got us through a recession that forced many other businesses to close their doors.

We were profitable, we had a name, a logo, a building, equipment, product, a manufacturing process and a distributor. We put together a profit-sharing plan which we have contributed to each year since inception.



Diversification/ Organic Growth 1974 – 1985

During this period, we began to think about diversifying our markets, processes and organizational structure. We knew if we were to continue to grow, we needed to broaden our capabilities. The first step was to add electroplating methods to our production of diamond wheels. We design our new facility to accommodate additional space for equipment and technology to support new products and processes.


It was through the diversification of technology and markets that we would develop a long-term, financially-stable manufacturing company. This has borne out over the years – when one market is down, another is up.

We expanded into industrial markets, making small grinding wheels to “tune” the quartz crystals that went into watches. Our product line began to support Aerospace and Automotive industries.


In these early stages of growth, the intention was to grow organically, at no more than 20% per year. We knew sustained growth of more than 20% would stress the organization, systems and people beyond their capabilities.


Growth through Acquisitions 1986 – 1992

Between 1986 and 1992, we purchased 6 companies around the world that supported our growth and development, were granted 10 new patents and expanded our facilities.


The process of sustained internal growth as well as growth through acquisitions continued to stabilize AT’s long-term goal for financial stability through diversification of markets, distribution channels, customers and product lines all focused within the superabrasives industry.


We invested in technology like Jobscope & Lotus Notes. As Butch stated, “We need information coming both ways, from the office to the salespeople and from the salespeople to the office, and within the office.”


Transition of Ownership 1992

In 1991, the worldwide recession hit and the global abrasive industry fell by over 25%. Our customers had an oversupply of inventory and cut our orders. As a result, AT had its first layoff in history. This was tough!

By 1992, three of the original partners retired and Butch took sole ownership of all Abrasive Technology companies.


At his first All Employee Meeting, Butch laid out his vision for the company and its future. He took the opportunity to share the Mission & Objectives, introduced the concept of “Do It Right the First Time”, and began planting the seeds of the culture he wanted to grow.

The vision of a simple organizational structure, comprised of individuals doing tasks as part of a department; teams working together within each department for efficiencies; and teams linked together for efficient product flow from order to shipment.


Discovery 1993 – 2000

Butch now as sole owner began the process change. “I had a solid, profitable company, good products, good customers and great, experienced employees. I looked deep inside myself and asked What do I want to do with all of this?

“I wanted to create an environment where everyone simply enjoys coming to work every day. There are statistics out there that say 80% of American workers hate their jobs. I wanted to create a company where at least 80% of the people working there love their jobs.”


In 1994 Butch introduces the thought process for “Change & Challenge.” Butch and Tanya begin working with Center for Creative Leadership and the Leadership Learning Agenda begins.

Business didn’t stop. We added another 13 patents, acquired 9 companies, expanded facilities and capabilities, created our first website and successfully implemented software for email, order tracking, and e-commerce. However, our steadfast focus on our purpose allowed for us to engage people in ways that showed we cared and humanized how traditional manufacturing operated.


In 1995, we began introducing the term “Associate” to our people. This was the first of many changes we would make to the world of traditional manufacturing. He wanted people to feel a part of a productive group that was passionate about getting the work done and shared in the rewards of that good work.

In 1999, Butch was honored was as an Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young.



Evolve 2001 – 2011

2001 marked the year of global change and upheaval. At Abrasive, we implemented a revolutionary organizational structure to reinforce the culture we had been building for 10 years. This was called the Process Centered Organization, or PCO.


The PCO was built on the framework of Michael Hammer’s Reengingeering concept but with a “flatter” organization structure and an environment where people felt more connected to their contributions, decision-making and business outcomes.

Our mantra became “if we’re all in, we all win”



Evolution Continues 2012 –

“Since 1992, I focused my energies on building an organization where everyone gets to contribute, everyone gets to gain and everyone gets to learn and grow. I wanted to create an enviornment where everyone simply enjoys coming to work every day. There are statistics out there that say 80% of American workers hate their jobs. I wanted to create a company where at least 80% of the people working there love their jobs.

Over the years, I have taken time to reflect on what I want to do now. I made two decisions:  1) make the headroom for the next generation of Abrasive Technology’s leaders and 2) share the concepts of the PCO and Heart Culture with others.”

Butch Peterman



Tanya & Butch Launch Manufacturing with Heart®

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