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The Fast Five: RAPID
Published Thursday, February 16, 2017

Three-year Average Growth: 35%
Rank on Private 100: 58
Headquarters: 15 Charron Ave., Nashua
Product/Service: Rapid prototyping manufacturer, specializing in quick-turn prototype and short-run production custom parts.
President & CEO: James Jacobs
Founded: 2001
Total Number of Employees: 378
Website: rapidmanufacturing.com

James Jacobs, president and CEO. Photo by Matthew J. Mowry.

James Jacobs spent most of his career selling custom parts, primarily industrial plastic parts produced through 3-D printing, when he saw a hole in the marketplace. “I came up with the idea of taking the 3-D printing [business] model and applying it to sheet metal,” Jacobs says. “We have a core purpose here. We manufacture time. For product developers, sometimes time is more important than costs. If you are doing a tradeshow in two weeks and need a prototype part, you are dead in the water [if you don’t receive it on time].”

So Jacobs bought a sheet metal shop in 2001, but the first two years were a struggle. Gradually, however, he built the business, and in 2013, it finally took off. “It was like someone turned the faucet on. All of a sudden people were finding us on the web and asking for quotes and placing orders,” Jacobs says.

Customers can receive quotes on the company’s website within hours and get updated prices instantly as specifications change, which Jacobs cites as a competitive advantage.

RAPID manufactured more than 35,000 unique parts in the past year for more than 5,000 customers, who hail from diverse sectors including defense, medical, robotics, aviation and space. Clients range from independent inventors to Fortune 100 companies, including Google, SpaceX, Lockheed Martin, GE, BAE and Amazon.

RAPID has doubled its sales force the past 15 months, increased the size of its IT staff to support automation efforts and anticipates hiring another 50 to 100 workers in the next year, primarily in manufacturing, Jacobs says. “We will grow next year, It’s [a matter] of how much the economy helps us or hinders us.”

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