Many Snips readers know Central West Machine, South Bend, Ind., as a long-time supplier of new and used equipment for the sheet metal industry. But most don't know about the rather unusual role played by this combination manufacturer-distributor.

Owner Kim Trinkley has been at it since the early 1970s. He operates Central West out of his home - his basement, in fact! That's surprising, when you consider the presence he has in this industry, and the size of some of the equipment he sells.

But most of that equipment is stored in warehouses that he has easy access to.

Not just a wholesaler, Trinkley says part of his job is akin to that of an interior designer - "When you build a home, I would come in and tell you what kind of carpeting you'll need, and what kind of furnishings, and how to get the most out of what you have."

He does this with sheet metal shops, including some of the country's most well-known and prominent, such as Fort Wayne, Ind.'s C.H. Krause, which was featured in the July Snips.

Many large manufacturers such as Engel Inds. sell equipment to contractors via Trinkley's Central West Machine. "I'll talk to the shop owner to find out what they need, even if they're just getting started, and put together a package for them. I don't just sell one type or brand of equipment, so I can advise them on what they need right now, and what options they have, and what they'll need later on. I can put together a 'wish list' for them."

Trinkley doesn't stop there. When he sees a need that isn't being filled, he might make and market the machine himself. He has sold some 469 of his own beading machines over the past 10 years, and his own Shearmaster was introduced three years ago and is doing quite well. He is pursuing patents on this unusual machine.

Trinkley will occasionally visit a sheet metal shop first-hand, but often does all of this by phone, talking to as many as 30-40 customers per day, many of them overseas. He has sold equipment all over the world, he says.

He also deals in used equipment, which is essential to this industry. Many small shops buy new equipment as they grow, but rely on used equipment until they can afford to do so, or when there is a small niche to be filled that can't be justified with a major capital investment for new equipment.

Eastcoast CAD/CAM Systems has introduced a new line of integrated Windows-based products, from estimating through fitting cutting.

This new generation of Eastcoast's "Maker" CAM software, using Windows 98/NT, integrates state-of-the-art computer programs for the hvac sheet metal and mechanical contracting industry with computerized sheet metal and piping estimating, the result of a technology partnership with Wendes Systems Inc.

Eastcoast's Maker CAM software processes hvac sheet metal fittings from CAD software aldo developed by Eastcoast and marketed by QuickPen International. The new Windows 98/NT CAM software features multi-tasking operations, 3D labeling, bar coding, bar code reading, product tracking, and direct downloading of fittings to all existing plasma cutting machines.

For more information contact Eastcoast at 800-334-2977 or write to Eastcoast CAD/CAM Systems, 23 Arlo Lane, Courtlandt Manor, NY 10567.