Former NFL pro tackles manufacturing

December 11, 2017 - 12:45pm
An interview with Pete Shufelt, owner of Backerworks Manufacturing LLC, Albuquerque, N.M.

In connection with the writing of the Productive Times section of an upcoming issue, I spoke with Pete Shufelt, owner of Backerworks Manufacturing LLC, Albuquerque, N.M. While visiting the job shop’s website, I read that Shufelt was an NFL linebacker before starting his machining business.

During our telephone interview, which primarily focused on how Backerworks benefited from switching to the HOCUT 8640 coolant from Houghton International, Valley Forge, Pa., in some of its machines, I asked how he gravitated toward machining after being a professional athlete. Shufelt said he became interested in metalworking during high school, where he took machining and welding classes during his 4 years there.

Shufelt recalled that as a freshman, he spoke with his counselor, who was also the football coach, about the need to take electives. The counselor mentioned wood shop, which didn’t excite him, as well as metals technology. “I said, ‘That sounds interesting.’ It kind of all started there,” Shufelt said.

During Shufelt’s football career, most of his time was with the Kansas City Chiefs and the New York Giants, but he also has stints with the New Orleans Saints, the San Francisco 49ers and the Denver Broncos. In addition, he played in the NFL Europe league with Rhein Fire.

For Shufelt, having the physical talent to make it to the NFL certainly distinguishes him, but his metalworking education helped sustain and grow Backerworks. According to the website, Shufelt began the business out of a backyard garage in 1998, and the machine shop now occupies a 22,000-sq.-ft. facility and offers CNC machining, certified welding, waterjet cutting, fabrication, wire EDMing, tool and die making, inspection and quality assurance.

“When in the NFL,” he said, “you’re not in it for long.”

Related Glossary Terms

  • computer numerical control ( CNC)

    computer numerical control ( CNC)

    Microprocessor-based controller dedicated to a machine tool that permits the creation or modification of parts. Programmed numerical control activates the machine’s servos and spindle drives and controls the various machining operations. See DNC, direct numerical control; NC, numerical control.

  • coolant


    Fluid that reduces temperature buildup at the tool/workpiece interface during machining. Normally takes the form of a liquid such as soluble or chemical mixtures (semisynthetic, synthetic) but can be pressurized air or other gas. Because of water’s ability to absorb great quantities of heat, it is widely used as a coolant and vehicle for various cutting compounds, with the water-to-compound ratio varying with the machining task. See cutting fluid; semisynthetic cutting fluid; soluble-oil cutting fluid; synthetic cutting fluid.

  • metalworking


    Any manufacturing process in which metal is processed or machined such that the workpiece is given a new shape. Broadly defined, the term includes processes such as design and layout, heat-treating, material handling and inspection.

  • quality assurance ( quality control)

    quality assurance ( quality control)

    Terms denoting a formal program for monitoring product quality. The denotations are the same, but QC typically connotes a more traditional postmachining inspection system, while QA implies a more comprehensive approach, with emphasis on “total quality,” broad quality principles, statistical process control and other statistical methods.

  • waterjet cutting

    waterjet cutting

    Fine, high-pressure (up to 50,000 psi or greater), high-velocity jet of water directed by a small nozzle to cut material. Velocity of the stream can exceed twice the speed of sound. Nozzle opening ranges from between 0.004" to 0.016" (0.l0mm to 0.41mm), producing a very narrow kerf. See AWJ, abrasive waterjet.



Alan holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Including his 20 years at CTE, Alan has more than 30 years of trade journalism experience.


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