10-Year Employee Honored for Outstanding Service at Quality Products

It would have been completely natural if Scott Zagora was a little more resentful about his career.

He began in the machining industry at his family’s shop – Zagora Gear Products. In 2005, he was about five years away from assuming control of the company after his father’s retirement.

But instead, the gear manufacturer closed that year. That sent Scott’s career in an entirely new direction.

“The business we had was as big as this one here,” said Scott. “We had 40 employees, and we had a pretty big operation. I was pretty sad to see it go.”

He’s made the absolute most of that new direction, though, and for his decade of service at Quality Products and Machine, Compass Precision has named Scott its Employee of the Month for September 2023.

”Scott does most of our estimating and quoting, an absolutely essential function at any CNC machine and fab shop,” explained Kevin Farmer, President of Quality Products. “We make custom stuff. There is no price list. I depend on Scott to use his experience in figuring out what we should change for new parts and assemblies.”

Scott is the 42nd employee, including 13th at Quality Products, to be named the Compass Precision Employee of the Month. Machinist Minh Hong is the other Quality Products employee to receive the honor this year.

Scott began working at Zagora Gear Products at 16 years old. He wasn’t permitted to run machines yet, but he cleaned, swept and painted around the shop.

Then at 18, he started working as a machinist. In 1990, he assumed a full-time position at the shop as a CNC programmer directly out of college.

Although the family business ended when Scott was 35 years old, his experience at Zagora Gear Products eventually led him to an opportunity at the Compass Precision operating company.

In 2013, Scott’s wife found a job listing from Quality Products. He recognized the company’s name because Quality Products used to operate a block from Zagora Gear Products in downtown Charlotte.

Quality Products’ former owner, Chip, recognized Scott’s last name too when he applied. After an interview, Chip hired Scott as a machinist. Within six months, Scott rose to machine shop supervisor, a role he served in for five years.

In 2018, major changes occurred at Quality Products, one of which saw Kevin Farmer become the company’s president. There was also an opening in estimating and business development.

Scott moved out of the shop and slid seamlessly into the office role. He’s served in that position for the past five years.

He described the office position as a lot less stressful. Scott excels in the role because of his milling and machining experience.

”We throw lots of quote packages, figuratively and literally, on Scott’s desk,” stated Quality Products Operations Manager Greg Donaldson. “We need accurate estimates and quotes done quickly, as well as someone to interact with customers. There are always multiple things going on at the same time. Scott fills this role and does it well.”

Scott said that he sometimes misses running machines, but that his new role does give him the opportunity to help the company’s machinists.

“I can help them figure out how to run something. If they can’t get it to run properly, I can give them ideas on checking pressures, etc,” said Scott. “So. I still get to give my input, and I’m in all our meetings that we have. Any kind of production meeting or even our weekly meeting, I’m in all the meetings, so I still get to give my input and help a lot around the shop.

“I get the best of both.”

Scott’s great grandfather opened Zagora Gear Products in the 1920s. His great grandfather immigrated to Rock Hill, SC from Austria-Hungary. The company was particularly successful while making automotive rain gears during WWII.

After the shop closed, Scott spent five years in real estate, but he described that industry as “not for him.” He returned to machining at ECS Enterprises, where he worked with eventual Advanced Machining operations manager Pat Reynolds. Two years later, his wife showed Scott the job listing at Quality Products.

It’s perhaps fitting that Scott landed in the estimating and business development role at the Compass operating company. On a day-to-day basis, he handles RFQs and provides customers with quotes. Scott is directly responsible for finding the right balance between supplying customers with competitive prices while ensuring Quality Products makes a profit.

What Scott does, with the help of a modernized ERP system, is something that Zagora Gear Products didn’t do in the 1990s and early 2000s. According to Scott, that’s part of why his family’s company didn’t survive.

“I actually track what I’m quoting, and I can actually get an idea, ‘Ok we profited on this job, we didn’t on this one, why didn’t we?’” Scott said when talking about his role and using the ERP system. “And that’s when I dig into it, adjust the pricing if I need to or figure out why they didn’t run it as quickly as I estimated.

“Pretty cool having the ERP system help track us where we’re winning and losing and then we can fix them.”

Scott will celebrate his 10-year anniversary with Quality Products in October 2023.

In his free time, Scott enjoys attending a lot of different sporting events with his wife, Kim, and family. The couple have four sons, Dylan (25), Kyle (23), Austin (16) and Tanner (15). Dylan and Kyle have graduated from college and moved into their own apartments.

The family also has two yorkies, Bengie and Teddy, who each just turned five years old.

Scott also enjoys golf and performing home improvement projects at his own house and the houses of his close family members.