Precision is King at Cincinnati Precision Instruments

Photo by Wes Battoclette

Precision is only possible with hard work and an unwavering dedication to one’s craft. This is true for professional athletes, architects and measuring instrument calibrators alike. The result of precision for any profession or business is the difference between success and failure. This has been the case with Cincinnati Precision Instruments (CPI), which under the industrious leadership of the father and son team, Charlie and Steve Plymire, established a reputation for precision with its craftsmanship and dedication to its customers and employees. ‚Äč


In 1962, from a rented garage and using equipment purchased from a failed optical instrumentation company, Charlie and his business partner Donna Behymer started CPI. Despite having no credit and only $1,000 between them, Charlie was able to gain the trust of lenders based on a simple promise to pay them back. “I’ll just tell you that I will pay my bills and you’re just going to have to take the chance,” Charlie said. They took the chance and he did more than just pay them back; he built the solid foundation of a business that stands as a leader in the precision instrument calibration industry today.

This dedication and trustworthiness have remained non-negotiable values, resulting in the company’s consistent growth over 50-plus years. From that rented garage, the business moved across the street into a bigger building and then finally purchased a 12,500-square-foot building where CPI resides today. Even when competitors began chipping away at its market share in the late ’80s, Charlie didn’t give up. Instead he convinced his son, Steve, to expand the business by selling to end-users.

In 1999, Steve bought out Behymer’s share of the business and became president and minority owner of CPI. The combination of Charlie’s technical mind and Steve’s sales and marketing skills lifted CPI out from those difficult times to another level of growth. Today, CPI has more than $7.5 million in annual revenue and includes Fortune 500 companies among its customer base. Not bad for a business that started in a garage with $1,000.

For CPI, excellence goes beyond precision instruments. Its focus on customer satisfaction and developing a quality team of employees is second to none. “You always want to make sure you put the customer first,” Charlie says, “and do the best job you can do.” Charlie has always modeled this principle to his team, especially his son.

Steve says, “It is very enjoyable to come to work each day to serve our customers, serve one another and our community.”

This customer focus doesn’t go unnoticed by CPI’s customers. Sandy Gill from Aisin Automotive says, “Charlie and Steve are like family. They treat you like they have known you all of their lives.” This type of dedication to the customer is difficult to match among businesses today.

The value of CPI is measured by the quality of its team. “This is a very precision-oriented business,” says David Kiihnl, a board member of CPI. “You have to have good eyes, good hands and good intelligence to be able to do it.”

That’s why the company focuses on recruiting and training its team. “Your employees make the company, not the man at the top,” says Charlie. Like father, like son, Steve agrees. “The thing I love most about working here is the people. The people make the company. It’s a good team, probably the best we’ve ever had.”

Precision doesn’t happen by chance. It takes action, dedication and commitment. CPI has demonstrated this since 1962. It’s a company-wide philosophy that will always be the precise reason for its long-term success.