His father was a machinist, and he worked with him the summer after graduating from Cy-Fair High School in 1962. Halfway through his first semester in college, he told his parents he was going to pursue a career in the trade.
“During the course of the summer, I realized this is what I wanted to do. So I went ahead and proceeded to follow him in the trade. I wanted to be a machinist. And even during that summer, I kind of made up my mind about starting my own business,” Napier said.
He would use his strong work ethic, machinist skills, people skills and business skills to create P & N Machine Co. in 1973 with one machine in a borrowed industrial space at a friend's business.
Fifty years later, he and his two sons, Brandon and Kevin, have grown the business to a 38,850-square-foot facility with 67 employees and plans for a 25,000-square-foot expansion. The company also gives back to the community through charitable donations, sponsorships and quarterly blood drives, and takes pride in being an integral part of the Cy-Fair community.
When he was in his beginning stages, Napier relied on help from family members. His sister was asked to register the business name downtown and chose P & N for “Pat” and “Napier.” Napier’s mother was working in a photography business at the time and came up with the logo for him during his first year in business.
In the beginning, P & N made parts for oil and gas clients during the expansion of offshore drilling, and has since expanded its client base into the medical industry making parts for MRI machines and surgical use, as well as aerospace/defense, environmental, optical, geophysical, computer and robotics industries. Its wide range of manufacturing equipment includes over 40 CNC machines.
CNC, or computer numerical control, is capable of producing turnkey products utilizing preprogrammed computer software that dictates the movement of factory tools and machinery. The process can be used to control a range of complex machinery, from grinders and lathes to mills and CNC routers.
“As I grew up I became more aware that my dad had a business, ... and just one of the things that I've always respected about my father was the way he ran the business. ... He's always had a philosophy that he wanted to treat people well and treat people fairly, ... and I think part of that was because he had worked in other places where he felt he wasn't always treated fairly,” Brandon said.
Brandon attained a degree in computer science in 2000, and his brother Kevin graduated with an economics degree in 2005. Both put their knowledge to work helping Napier grow the business.
“In 2005, I started full-time on the floor running the saw and doing those kinds of things, I think because I wasn't sure if this is what I really want to do. It was just a stopgap for me. ... I went backpacking around Australia for six months. But then when I came back, it was time to be serious and take work seriously,” Kevin said.
But despite the serious nature of the business, the atmosphere on the floor is full of good humor, and even through the layoffs during tough economic times, Napier’s work ethic and the help of his sons has kept the company going, he said.
“That's been my philosophy—if you aren't enjoying what you're doing, why not do something else? And if you can enjoy it and have fun while you're doing it, then you need to ... because life is too short, goes by too fast.” Napier said.
P & N Machine Co. through the years:
- 1970s: P & N began serving the needs of oil and gas clients, primarily making parts for offshore drilling rigs.
- 1990s: The company added medical device companies to its client list, machining parts used in MRI machines.
- 2010s: Aerospace and defense contractors were added to the list, making P & N a valuable partner for the U.S. government.