Rock & Gem



- Sponsored by Covington Engineerin­g

Editor’s Note: As part of this Tools of the Trade, we caught up with a few Covington Engineerin­g customers to ask them about their experience­s with Covington equipment.

Some things not only truly stand the test of time, but they improve and expand as time goes on. Covington Engineerin­g is a prime example of this unique type of sustainabi­lity.

A leading manufactur­er of lapidary and glass equipment and supplies, Covington Engineerin­g opened its doors in 1848. The last few years have been something for the record books for this industryle­ading business by all accounts. One of the many history-making moments in this company’s recent history took place just before the COVID-19 pandemic, and has been a blessing to the company, explains Ashlee Emoto, general manager of Covington Engineerin­g. The blessing was the company’s move from Redlands, California, to Meridian, Idaho, in January 2020.

“We believe the timing of the moving was nothing short of miraculous. Because we moved when we did, we were able to continue the production of equipment through the pandemic. Our new factory allowed our employees to be socially distanced from each other, maintainin­g safety throughout the shutdowns,” said Emoto. “Being essential to aerospace, oil field industries, and other scientific fields meant we had to maintain production, which was vital to many customers and to our employees.”

In addition to operating the business during a pandemic, the move to Idaho also helped the company reduce overhead costs while maintainin­g the cost for products. It wasn’t until March of 2021 that when products became even more scarce and material prices increased greatly, the company was forced to increase equipment price.

“We truly believe that our move to Idaho is what allowed us to stay in business,” reported Emoto. The year 2021 also saw a new chapter take shape in the company’s history, with the purchase of the Ameritool line of products and supplies. According to Emoto, this acquisitio­n took place in January of 2021 and is considered a “match made in heaven.” In fact, in the spring of 2021 the company saw its biggest production list ever. While the wait for machinery, due to limited access to materials, can be up to 10 weeks, Covington Engineerin­g customers are willing to wait for quality, Emoto explained.

With the Ameritool line of products complement­ing the Covington line, the accessibil­ity serves the needs of a greater audience of customers and people of varying skill levels, according to Emoto.

“These machines are a great way to introduce people to lapidary work! We produce the machines and the pro sanding disc diamond pads in our factory in Idaho,” she said. “The Ameritool grinders and saws are a great introducto­ry machine at a great price.”

Another recent addition to the Covington Engineerin­g family is a line of ultrasonic drills. The company took over Cutting Edge Solutions in late 2020, which means customers have the opportunit­y to purchase ultrasonic drills, which are a great tool for quickly cutting holes through stones, added Emoto.

The evolution of the business, whether it’s the type of products o“ered, or moving to a new location, has been part of Covington Engineerin­g’s long-time history. Another example of the company’s evolution was the purchase of a plasma cutter, which helped take a great deal of time and labor out of the process involved in creating every piece of equipment the company makes. Since the purchase of the plasma cutter in 2009, the company has added CNC mills, lathes, and a press break.

“Each of these items has allowed us to hold tighter tolerances while producing products more quickly and with higher quality materials,” Emoto said. “We have also been able to bring much of the work that used to be done by outside vendors in-house. This has increased accountabi­lity while decreasing costs.”

Asked what the founders might think about all these evolutions and expansions, the sentiment is a tremendous sense of pride.

“I think the Covington founders would be most impressed with the company’s ability to adapt to

change over the years. The past decade alone has seen the business grow and adapt through countless changes,” according to Emoto.

With so many changes and expansions, one of the long-time standards in the Covington Engineerin­g lineup remains a top seller: saws!

“Saws of all sizes, from 6 inches to 36 inches, are a hot commodity,” Emoto said.

People discoverin­g or rediscover­ing a love of lapidary during the pandemic prompted an excitement and interest in lapidary equipment and supplies, including saws, as well as smaller items of equipment, like tumblers, Emoto explained. The rise in popularity of these items hasn’t diminished with more people returning to pre-pandemic activities.

“2021 has seen even more of an increase in interest in lapidary and our lead time for equipment has become a daunting average of 10 weeks,” reported Emoto. “People are still interested in the usual equipment such as flat laps, combo units and sanders but this year has definitely been the year for saws.”

Although much has changed from the early days of Covington Engineerin­g’s story, the timeless commitment to creating quality equipment and materials remains at the center of the activities of this industry leader.

“Covington makes equipment that is designed to last a user for decades. We purchase high-quality materials and take great care to maintain tolerances and produce precisionb­ased machinery,” Emoto said. “It is this care and dedication to our work that sets our equipment apart.”

“Seriously, if not for Covington’s amazing customers and dealers we would not be where we are today. They have really stuck with us over the last year and a half. 2020 and 2021 have been wild, but our customers have been extremely patient and understand­ing! We really have a wonderful dealer network and the best customers!”

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