What began as a father and son road trip to Walla Walla a year ago to buy a well-known archery company is now Real Axis Machining, located on the east side of Battle Ground.
“We chose not to purchase the company but thought ‘This is something we could do better on our own,’” said Jon Reali, president and co-founder of Real Axis.
Reali has a degree in electrical engineering and material science from Princeton University, as well as an MBA and Juris Doctor (law) degree from the University of Notre Dame. By ‘‘doing better,’’ he’s referring to Real Axis’s ability to help customers with everything from programming to machining metal and plastic parts to assisting with intellectual property issues such as trademarks and copyrights. Reali spent more than 10 years as a registered patent attorney with firms from Pittsburgh to Chicago, but primarily in Portland and Vancouver.
In addition to Reali, his father Chuck has come out of retirement to be the manager and co-founder of Real Axis. He brings years of experience as general manager and vice president of the Vancouver Aluminum Company (Vanalco). Roger Antes is their director of machining operations and Chad Nelson rounds out the four-man team as director of sales.
Running both computer numerically controlled (CNC) and manual Haas machinery, Reali said that the key features to their shop are their ST-20 lathe and VF-5SS vertical mill. As he explained it, a vertical mill is like a drill press where the table moves in x and y direction, the drill itself moves in z direction and by combining those three movements, plus the fourth axis, you can mill an infinite variety of three-dimensional shapes. All of that, plus the mill’s weight of 15,000 pounds, solidifies Reali’s analogy of a drill press on steroids.
“We just completed a part that was less than a centimeter in total length and maybe half that in diameter all the way up through in the neighborhood of 3-foot by 4-foot and we can make larger stuff than that depending on what’s required,” Reali said. “If there’s some fabrication or welding involved, we can do larger parts.”
When there’s an opportunity to fuse skill with passion, there’s synergy. Between himself, his dad and their machinist, Antes, the men behind Real Axis have 80 years of archery experience. That gives them an advantage in archery design and manufacturing that carries over to other machining projects.
“We don’t want to limit ourselves to archery at all,’’ Jon said. “That being said, with our experience we know what we’re making. We don’t just follow a blueprint and that’s it.”
Growing up in the Battle Ground area, Reali has fond memories of shooting with his dad and mom (who passed away in 2003). She was actually very good and the way archery can be enjoyed by all ages and sexes is one of the things that Reali loves about the sport.
As a result of the popularity of Hollywood blockbusters like The Hunger Games, archery has seen a great deal of growth mostly in the youth market and particularly with young women. Movie characters such as Katniss Everdeen have inspired girls to pursue the skill and mastery of the bow and arrow.
Long before there was Katniss to inspire him, Reali was a competitive archer during his high school years. In fact, he is a five-time national champion and national record holder in archery. Nowadays, as a target shooter, he finds it meditative and relaxing. He is currently the vice president of Chinook Archers, which is a private archery club in Camas with an indoor range as well as an extensive outdoor practice range.
Real Axis can service anywhere from a small-volume prototype part up through just about any size in the industry, but they are looking to focus on local manufacturers and have enjoyed early success with archery clients that Reali hopes will continue to expand along with the organization.
Real Axis Machining can be reached at (360) 831-4137 and is located at 1205 SE Grace Ave., Battle Ground.